Second citizenship programmes can now be found in many different jurisdictions, they started in the Caribbean in the seventies to boost local economies and provided clients with visa free travel to certain countries.
Citizenship programmes have evolved and spread across the globe, the Caribbean islands compete with each other and more recently with some Pacific islands offerings.
European jurisdictions have arrived on the scene with higher investment levels but with the ability to obtain an EU passport as the ultimate prize.
Each jurisdiction offering second citizenship has its own merits and pitfalls. Clients seeking second citizenship need to be interrogated as to their aspirations and reasons for desiring a visa from a country that they were not born in and may never have lived in before. Their reasons will be varied, but a common aspect is to have a safe haven to reside for themselves and their families should they ever need it at short notice.
The UK has a well-known Tier 1 Investor and Entrepreneur Visa programme which enables investors to live and work in the UK for varying amounts of investment into the UK economy. Visas are grated for an initial period of 40 months, after which a 24 month extension can be applied for and after 5 years a successful applicant can apply for indefinite leave to remain. One year later they can apply for citizenship and obtain a British passport.
The Isle of Man operates the same Tier 1 Visa programme and the rules for applying in the Isle of Man are similar in most respects to the UK. The Isle of Man has until very recently not promoted this route for foreign nationals to legally live and work on the Island, but with the market for second citizenship programmes becoming ever more popular but competitive the Isle of Man has something a little different to offer.
Isle of Man resident companies are taxed at zero percent, with the exception of banking and large retail outlets being taxed at 10 percent and companies profiting from land and property in the Isle of Man 20 percent.
To qualify for indefinite leave to remain, in the Isle of Man, an individual must be resident in the Isle of Man for a minimum of 180 days in each year. However, time spent with valid leave in the UK or The Channel Islands is not considered an absence.
There is also the possibility for Investor visa applicants to potentially invest in a much wider context than those applying through the UK.
If indefinite leave to remain is granted and all aspects of an application are met, a British passport can be obtained.
Like many jurisdictions the Isle of Man needs to increase the economically active population of the Island, which has historically been open to foreign nationals living and working within its shores. 70 different nations are currently represented here and this is something that the Island has a political desire to continue.
A new Enterprise Development Scheme (EDS) has been launched which is an Isle of Man Government financed £50m fund established to encourage new start-up business, accelerate existing businesses and to relocate business to the Island.
The Tier 1 Immigration Rules are being updated and one of the most recent developments is that if a Tier 1 Entrepreneur applicant can secure a minimum of £50,000 investment from the EDS then the usual £200,000 requirement for the visa is no longer necessary. This would allude to the fact that the immigration department in the Isle of Man would no longer need to review the business as an appropriate business for the purpose of the granting the visa.
This is the latest development and will not be the last. The Isle of Man is certainly open for business, it has the infrastructure, it has a supportive Government, and it has a British way of life and is one of the safest places to live within the British Isles. London, Belfast, Manchester and Liverpool are easily accessible with excellent travel links and of course we have a very favourable tax regime.
So is the Isle of Man an option for second citizenship? If you are an entrepreneur looking to set up a fintech or biotech business or if you are an investor and would like to bring your children up in a friendly safe island environment then the answer is simply yes it is definitely an option that should be high on the list of considerations.