The History of CBI Programs

A timeline of most important CBI programs

CBI program history timeline:

1982

tonga flag Tonga

Initially selling only Tongan Protected Person Passports (TPPP), the King of Tonga allows the sale of full-fledged citizenships in 1983

1982

1984

St Kitts & Nevis St kitts flag

One year after achieving independence, Saint Kitts and Nevis launches the CIP. For the following 20 years, the program is essentially inert, with only a few hundred passports issued.

1984

1985

Belize CBI Belize flag

The BECIP begins by giving citizenship for a US$40,000 investment. Throughout the 1990s, the program was by far the cheapest CIP in the Caribbean.

1985

1987

Marshall Islands CIP Marshall Islands flag

The Marshall Islands begin selling citizenship in secret for the official price of $100,000. Years after the program’s end, the Attorney General discovers that numerous citizenships have been lost.

1987

1988

Ireland Economic Citizenship Ireland flag

Between 1988 and 1998, Ireland issued roughly 150 passports to applicants who invested a minimum of £1 million in the country to create or maintain jobs.

1988

1991

Samoa CBI Launched Samoa flag

Samoan officials sold an estimated 2,200 passports for an average price (prices varied widely) of US$11,000 in a highly irregular scheme that involved the unauthorized sale of citizenships, passports, and even diplomatic passports over a six-year period.

1991

1992

Peru starts CBI program Peru flag

Peru alters its constitution to allow the selling of citizenships for US$25,000 per passport, subjecting applicants to severe screening, in order to attract much-needed investment, particularly from Hong Kong.

1992

1993

Dominica flag Peru flag

Dominica: While initially successful, the program comes to a halt in the late 1990s due to a sequence of unfavorable occurrences, including failing property developments and the loss of visa-free access to Canada, but it re-emerges a decade later.

Peru stops its citizenship by investment program less than a year after it launched, owing to public outrage and the awarding of only 12 citizenships to investors.

1993

1996

Grenada flag Cambodia	 flag Tonga flag Marshall Islands flag

Grenada: Despite political resistance, the first Mitchell government introduces a “Honorary Citizenship Programme,” giving citizenship for as little as $40,000.

Cambodia amends its nationality law to allow for dual citizenship as well as immediate naturalization for people who contribute or invest a minimum of $250,000 USD.

Tonga: Despite the fact that the country’s opposition was successful in repealing the CBI Act as early as 1988, the King of Tonga kept selling citizenships for another eight years before eventually abolishing the practice in 1996.

Marshall Islands: Following persistent pressure from the US government, the Marshall Islands cancels its passport program after selling nearly 2,000 passports over nearly a decade, primarily to Chinese people.

1996

1997

Samoa suspends CBI Samoa flag

Samoa suspends the selling of passports following a series of scandals reported in the news, including the detention of immigration officials and the strange death of a senior immigration official.

1997

1998

Nauru flag Ireland flag

Nauru: Despite Australian officials’ heated protests, Nauru started selling “economic citizenship” to individuals, primarily from Hong Kong, who pay US$15-50,000 to the government’s official agent, a Washington, DC-based corporation.

Ireland terminates its program after ten years of operation, amidst a political squabble involving the Minister of Foreign Affairs and a group of Saudi and Pakistani businessmen.

1998

2001

Grenada flag Comoros flag

Grenada: The Grenada ECP was discontinued as a result of the failure of the country’s largest offshore bank, concerns regarding due diligence standards, and pressure from the United States and Canada.

Comoros: Citizenship by investment becomes officially legal in the Comoros as part of the country’s nationality law. Between 2006 and 2011, the country sold over 48,000 items at wholesale prices, which were paid for by the UAE and Kuwait on behalf of its stateless inhabitants.

2001

2002

Belize suspends CBI Belize flag

Following American security concerns in the aftermath of 9/11, as well as criticism over the program’s management, Belize suspends the BECIP in March 2002.

2002

2003

Nauru CBI Closes Nauru flag

US officials encourage Nauru’s president to prohibit the selling of citizenships, citing (valid) concerns that a number of terrorists have received Nauruan passports. While on his deathbed in a New York hospital, the president writes an executive order to such effect.

2003

2006

St Kitts CBI Reopens Saint Kitts and Nevis flag

The Kittitian government revitalizes its program by introducing a three-month expedited path to citizenship: a choice between a property investment or a donation, a concept that becomes the model for future CIPs.

2006

2011

Cyprus starts CBI program Cyprus flag

As the first EU member state implements a CIP, the industry reaches a key juncture. Cyprus joins the market at a price point an order of magnitude higher than its Caribbean counterparts, granting significantly more broad settlement and travel privileges.

2011

2013

Grenada flag Antigua and Barbuda flag

Grenada: The Grenadian CIP rebranded as the Individual Investor Program. The second iteration of the program features due diligence methods and pricing that are more in line with its Caribbean peers.

Antigua: Adopting the approach pioneered by Saint Kitts and Nevis seven years earlier, the Antiguan program soon captures a large piece of the Caribbean market and becomes the only CIP with visa-free travel to Canada, a privilege it eventually loses.

2013

2014

Malta flag Vanuatu flag

Malta: The Malta IIP swiftly sets the gold standard for CIPs, with official endorsement from the European Commission, four-tiered due diligence, and greater visa-free access than any other program.

Vanuatu: While informal CIPs with uncertain legal bases have existed in various forms in Vanuatu since the 1990s, the Capital Investment Immigration Plan (CIIP) was the first formal such program to start in Vanuatu in 2014. Several similar initiatives (including the VERP and the REOP) were launched and then closed/replaced. Vanuatu has two citizenship by investment schemes as of August 2018: the VCP and the DSP.

2014

2016

Saint Lucia flag Turkey flag

Saint Lucia: The Saint Lucian CIP, the region’s fifth, draws on the already established Caribbean blueprint but is the first to feature a government bond investment option.

Turkey: Initially requiring a US$1 million real estate investment, Turkey later reduced the asking price to US$250,000, and the CIP rapidly became the most popular in the world.

2016

2018

Jordan flag Moldova flag Montenegro flag

Jordan: Few industry experts expect Jordan to make a surprise revelation in February 2018 that it has already begun accepting applications for the CIP, which starts at US$1 million, a hefty fee for a passport that does not have Schengen-access. However, the program defies expectations by receiving over 100 applications in the first six months.

Moldova: Moldovan officials say during the summer of 2018 that a CIP will be publicly opened in October, with a soft launch in August. The starting price will be EUR 100,000.

Montenegro: Only two weeks after Moldova, Montenegrin officials declare that their long-awaited CIP will be launched in October. The minimum investment required will be EUR 350,000.

2018

2020

Egypt flag Cyprus flag Malta flag

Egypt: Egypt formally launches its citizenship by investment program, with a US$250,000 minimum investment requirement.

Cyprus: The Cypriot government abruptly announces the program’s closure following a well publicized incident involving high-ranking officials looking eager to bend the rules for clearly unsuitable applicants.

Malta: As the MIIP reaches its 1,800-application limit, Malta’s government introduces a substitute – The Maltese Exceptional Investor Naturalization policy – which it studiously avoids referring to as a “program” for political reasons.

2020

2021

North Macedonia opens CBI North Macedonia flag

In 2016, North Macedonia began selling citizenship by investment for EUR 400,000, but only on a discretionary basis. A group of private enterprises will collaborate with the government in 2021 to develop a more formalized EUR 200,000 donation-based CIP. However, a year after its inception, the government has yet to approve any applications, raising severe concerns about the program.

2021