Italy Reopens to Travel – What are the Options for Immigration?

The Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi has just announced that Italy is to reopen its borders from the middle of May as it seeks to welcome back people who have been vaccinated or can produce a negative Covid-19 test. The main aim is to welcome back tourists ahead of the summer season, but it is also good news for anyone seeking a move to the country.

So what are the options for your Italian dream?

Italian Residency Options

Our firm’s most popular Italian visa is the Elective Residency Visa. This offers Italian residency to anyone who can prove they have a minimum of €32,000/year earned outside Italy to live on, and who can also find qualifying accommodation. The visa route was temporarily shut as a result of Covid, but it is now reopen and Italian embassies and consulates are welcoming applications once again.

In order to attract more people to its shores, Italy also offers an advantageous tax residency program. Pensioners are eligible for a flat tax of 7% on their overseas income (e.g. their pensions), high-net-worth individuals can avail themselves of a flat tax of €100,000 per annum, and certain workers can reduce their tax burden by 70% for the first five years they work in Italy. Conditions inevitably apply, please view our Italian Tax Residency page for more details.

Another way to quickly obtain Italian residency is through investment. The Italian government offers various cost-effective investment pathways. This includes and investment in a start-up, government bonds, or philanthropic donations. The starting investment requirement is just €250,000 and increases to a maximum of €2 million depending on the type of investment.

Italian Citizenship

It is possible to naturalize as an Italian citizen by virtue of ancestry or residency. Anyone who can document an appropriate Italian ancestor can apply for Italian citizenship. There are millions people in Brazil, Argentina, Venezeula, Mexico and the United States who are eligible for this visa.

Alternatively, if you establish your residence in Italy, for example through the Elective Residency Visa or the Investor Visa, it is possible to eventually become a citizen of Italy. European Union citizens only require two years’ residency in Italy before being eligible for citizens, for people from the rest of the world, you must wait ten years. The situation for British citizens is more complicated because of Brexit. We advise you to speak to our team for clarification on this.

Italian Property

Buying property in Italy can be complicated by bureacracy. Our Italy team can help you navigate each step of the process providing a reliable, bilingual partner to make sure you make the best decisions. Watch the webinar we hosted on the One Euro home program. We gathered key experts on Italy’s €1 Home to provide rounded advice to people thinking of taking advantage of the program.


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Italian Ancestry Citizenship for Brazilians: Gateway to U.S. E-2 Visa

The Italian community in Brazil has assimilated so well over the years that a surprising number of Brazilians are eligible for Italian citizenship without even knowing it. Italian citizenship offers a lot of benefits, including the ability to live and work in Italy and the rest of the European Union, as well as the ability to enter the United States through the Visa Waiver Program and to access its E-2 Treaty Investor Visa program.

Italian Migration to Brazil

During the last decade of the nineteenth century, more Italians emigrated to Brazil than to any other country in the world. It is estimated that over one million Italians moved to the Sao Paulo area and to the southern states of Brazil in the 1890s. Many of them came from the Veneto region of north eastern Italy and were lured by subsidised transportation and the offer of agricultural jobs in coffee plantations.

The numbers fell after the Italian government passed measures to stem the tide in 1902 by ending subsidized transport to Brazil, but high levels of immigration resumed after the end of the First World War. Today, it is estimated that over 30 million Brazilians are descended from these Italian immigrants. 

Italian Naturalization

The process of obtaining an Italian citizenship is called naturalization. It is open to people who can demonstrate an Italian grandparent, great-grandparent or a relevant connection even further back. Our Italian naturalization lawyers, based in Rome, have helped numerous Brazilians obtain Italian citizenship by proving their ancestry and working with the approporiate authorities in Italy to build and file the case. The team has also worked with Venezuelans, Argentinians, Americans, Mexicans, and people from other countries in the same way.

An Italian passport offers the ability to live and work in any European Union country. It also grants visa-free access to 126 countries, as well as the ability to get a visa upon arrival in a further 39. Holders of an Italian passport are eligible for the Visa Waiver Program to the United States. This program allows citizens or nationals of participating countries to enter the United States for up to 90 days without a visa. Brazilian citizens are not currently eligible and must apply for a visa before travelling to or transiting through the United States.

Visit our Italy Practice Homepage

Access to the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa Program

E-2 Treaty Investor Visas permit citizens of specific countries to move to the United States if they invest a substantial amount of capital in an American business (usually > $100,000). The primary applicant must be involved in running the business, but spouses can apply for work authorization in the United States outside of the business. Clients have used the E-2 visa to start-up new businesses, acquire existing business, or expand their current business. Franchise options are available, meaning off-the-shelf business solutions are available if you do not have an E-2 business in mind.

Brazilians are not currently eligible for an E-2 visa, but Italians are. Davies & Associates has successfully packaged Italian naturalization with an E-2 Visa application for a number of Brazilian clients. Please note, that while many Brazilians can claim Portuguese citizenship, Portugal does not hold an E-2 Treaty with the United States. Italians are initially granted an E-2 Visa for up to 60 months, but this can be renewed forever, so long as the underlying business continues to operate and meet its targets.

L-1 Visas Brazil

The L-1 visa program allows companies operating in the United States to bring skilled workers at the executive or managerial levels from overseas. It also allows for owners of small businesses to expand their business in the United States and transfer an executive member of staff to the United States to manage that business. Brazilians are currently eligible for L-1 visas that last for an initial period of up to two years, whereas Italian citizens are granted L-1 visas for up to five years. Both are able to renew their L-1 visas for up to a maximum of 7 years for an L-1A visa. After this time you must return to Brazil / Italy or transition to another visa to remain in the United States.

EB-5 Visa Brazil

Not all route into the USA go through Italy. Brazilian nationals are eligible to apply for the EB-5 immigrant investor visa program without needing to first take Italian citizenship. This visa offers a quick route to a green card for a $900,000 investment that creates and sustains ten American jobs. Davies & Associates is a leader in this field and has never had an EB-5 application rejected in our many years of service. 282 visas were issued to Brazilians in 2019 out of annual quota of just over 700. Whilst that leaves a lot of spare capacity, the example of India shows just how a country can go from the low hundreds to exceeding the quota in just two years. Countries exceeding their EB-5 visa quota enter a waitlist.

Researching your Family Tree

Acquiring an Italian passport opens up so many opportunities for Brazilians citizens. Through our offices and partners in Italy, my team has helped many Brazilians successfully claim their ancestral right to Italian citizenship, and we have continued to work with clients to get them access to the United States and beyond. So, start researching your family tree today, and please feel free to contact us to discuss your needs and eligibility.

To discuss your interest in Italian citizenship or any Italian residency, tax or property issues, please contact Matteo Tisato, the Italian-speaking Senior Immigration Analyst. mtisato@usimmigrationadvisor.com


This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


New Italian “Permit of Stay” for Victims of Natural Disasters

By Matteo Tisato, Senior Immigration Analyst, Italy Practice Group.

A new Italian permit of stay (permesso di soggiorno) can be obtained by those who have been affected by severe natural disasters or other calamities in their countries.

Italy and Sweden are the only countries offering this specific protection. In general, persons eligible for this immigration status are third-country nationals who, while not fulfilling the criteria for refugee or subsidiary protection, could not be returned to their country of origin because of environmental circumstances.

Our Italian team in Florence and Rome can now assist you in applying for this permit. The competent Italian authority will make a determination based on the documentation provided at time of filing and will independently check the current situation of your country of origin. Unfortunately, the processing time to obtain this permit is still unclear. This Permit solution is valid for a period of 6 months and can be extended until the situation in those countries improves and it is safe for you to travel back.

If the Immigration authority does not extend your status, you may qualify for different permits and change your status while you are in the country. For sample, you can change your status to work, student, or family permits.

The Permit for natural disasters and calamities gives you extensive rights, including work authorization in Italy, enrolment in the Italian health care system (SSN), and access to the Italian public education system.

Our team in Florence and our Italian desk in Miami are already working on these solutions and are available to answer all your questions.  

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Immigration Outlook for 2021

Happy New Year from the entire team at Davies & Associates. With a global vaccination program underway, 2021 looks set to bring a welcome return to something closer to normality.

Despite the difficult circumstances, we were delighted to move so many families and businesses around the world in 2020, and we look forward to serving many more in the coming year.

Best wishes,
Mark I. Davies Esq.
Global Chairman, Davies & Associates



United States Immigration

Much of how immigration policy plays out during Biden’s first two years in office will depend on which party ends up in control of the Senate after a run-off election in Georgia today, January 5. Then tomorrow, January 6, Congress is required to sign off on the election results in what will be President Trump’s last opportunity to contest them ahead of Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20. The political theater may calm down in late January, but questions will remain about how Biden will approach immigration policy as he attempts to repair the nation’s finances after Covid-19.

EB-5 Immigrant Investor Visa Program in 2021

The EB-5 Investor Visa brings investment and jobs to the United States. It offers Green Cards for a qualifying family group in exchange for a minimum $900,000 investment that creates ten jobs. It is for this reason that the EB-5 Program was deliberately not suspended by President Trump in 2020. The program has enjoyed the support of politicians from both main political parties and showcases how the immigration system can be a net benefit to the economy and employment.

The EB-5 program will find itself on the agenda of Congress this year as it faces reauthorization in June and as a bipartisan reform bill gains ground. While this could have a positive impact, some investors may wish to act in the first half of the year to lock in their investments with the surety of the current regulations. 

Read More

E-2 Treaty Investor Visa in 2021

The E-2 Treaty Investor is governed by treaties with sovereign countries, meaning it is more insulated from political changes than other types of visa. In fact, the oldest treaty (with the United Kingdom) was signed more than 200 years ago. The E-2 visa allows a person to move with their families for the purpose of investing in and running a business in the United States. It brings investment to the U.S. and creates jobs for U.S. workers. It was not covered by the Presidential Proclamation which banned the issuance of certain visas last year. 

Read Why You Should Apply for an E-2 Treaty Investor Visa in 2021 in Silicon India magazine, by Verdie Atienza, the Senior Immigration Attorney in charge of our E-2 and L-1 Visa Practice.

Read More

L-1 Intracompany Transfer Visa in 2021

The issuance of L-1 Visas was suspended by President Trump last year. The President just extended the ban on L-1 (as well as H-1B visas) through to March 31, 2021. This means Joe Biden will need take the decision on whether to immediately roll back on President Trump’s policy on the L-1 category or let it lapse in three months time. Increasingly our firm is helping business owners make use of the L-1 visa to be allowed to move to America to set up a new office and oversee the expansion of their businesses. Despite the ban, our clients have been using the time to prepare an application for when the ban is lifted. 

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National Interest Exception

The U.S. border has been closed to the citizens of select countries with high rates of Covid-19. However, it is possible for L-1 and E-2 visa holders to apply for special permission to travel to the United States if they can make the case that this is in the national interest. Our firm obtained multiple National Interest Exceptions to allow our L-1 and E-2 clients to travel to the U.S. in 2020. Please contact us if this affects you. 

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Italian Immigration

Our Italian business grew rapidly in 2020, in spite of challenging circumstances. This year is set to be even stronger as the Italian government looks to the immigration system to help rebuild the economy. To that end, it cut the cost of the Italian residency-by-investment visa in half for certain types of investment. It has also fully reopened the Elective Residency Visa after some consulates stopped accepting applications because of Covid. Elective Residency, which is our most popular Italian visa, allows a person to obtain Italian residency if they can prove a regular income of at least €32,000 / year among other conditions. 

Our firm also helps clients with all matters relating to Italian tax, citizenship and property. At the end of 2020 we hosted a webinar on the famous One-Euro Homes project featuring an expert panel covering all aspects of the program – including someone who has been through the process.

Read more

Click Here to Watch our One Euro Homes Webinar from December 2020

United Kingdom Immigration

The United Kingdom officially left the European Union at the end of 2020 and is gearing up its new points-based immigration system. It also recently launched a Global Talent Visa to attract future leaders in digital technology, academia, and the arts. The U.K. investor visa, skilled-worker visa, and start-up visa are all still available. Some of the details of the new system are yet to be determined, so we advise you to set up a consultation with our UK team.

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Grenada Citizenship by Investment

Demand for the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Programme grew during 2020 as more people sought dual citizenship amid the uncertainty of Covid-19. Grenada offers citizenship within a matter of months in exchange for an investment in Real Estate starting from $220,000 or a donation starting from $150,000. Grenada is an E-2 Treaty Country, which means people from a non E-2 Treaty Country (e.g. India, South Africa, Vietnam, Russia & China) can become eligible for the U.S. E-2 Treaty Investor Visa after obtaining citizenship of Grenada.

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Start a Business Anywhere in the World in 2021

Davies & Associates has helped hundreds of clients move their existing businesses overseas or start new ones around the world. The tasks of setting up an overseas office and of applying for the necessary visas are intricately linked. Our teams of corporate lawyers and immigration lawyers work closely together to ensure the business is set-up in a way that complies with all local immigration regulations. We then remain by our clients side, providing all the necessary ongoing corporate and immigration support as they grow and thrive in their new home.

Read more

 

Clients Wait Out the EB-5 Queue in the USA Using E-2 Visa

D&A Clients Wait Out the EB-5 Queue in the USA Using E-2 Visa

We are delighted to have received yet another E-2 Treaty Investor Visa approval today. This time it’s for a client who already has an approved EB-5 application, but is facing a wait before an EB-5 visa becomes available. In fact, she is part of a growing trend of people looking to the E-2 visa as a means of moving to the United States faster than EB-5 allows.

The EB-5 Visa is proving fantastically popular in some quarters – especially China and Vietnam where supply is often outpacing demand. As well as India, South Korea and Taiwan where demand is fast catching up with supply.

When demand exceeds supply, that country is subject to a waiting list for EB-5.

There are normally around 700 EB-5 visas available to each country per year. The quota does not take account of population size, which partially explains why demand is so high in certain countries.

Growing demand can also be explained by the fact that the EB-5 investor visa is offers permanent residency at a lower cost than other similar nations, for example the UK starts from £2 million and Italy, which was mostly more expensive until the Italian government reduced its investment amounts over the summer in response to Covid-19.

How long are the delays?

It is hard to calculate the exact length of the delay faced by each country because they are subject to so many moving parts. We explain the delays in more detail in our analyses of the visa bulletins.

Citizens of China are subject to extremely long, multi-year delays. For Vietnam the delay is shorter but still an inconvenience. And for India there is currently no delay, but there were delays as recently as this summer. Taiwan and South Korea have never faced delays, but they are heading in that direction.

Some people opt to wait out the delays in their home country, but others are keen to get to the United States sooner. That is where the E-2 visa comes in.

The E-2 Visa has no waiting list and processing times are very fast

The EB-5 country-quota depends upon a person’s country of birth rather than their current citizenship. For example, the client approved for E-2 today was born in mainland China but is currently an Australian citizen. That means that for EB-5 purposes our client is subject to the China quota – which has a long waiting list – rather than the Australian quota which has never come anywhere close to its annual cap.

Yet that Australian citizenship has come in handy when it comes to the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. Because, although there are no caps or quotas for E-2, eligibility for this visa is determined by your country of citizenship.

China does not hold and E-2 Treaty Country with the United States, so its citizens are ineligible. Australia, on the other hand, has a well-established treaty that makes its citizens eligible for the E-2 visa.

Essentially, you must be a citizen of an E-2 Treaty country in order to qualify for an E-2 visa. This means the country in which you hold citizenship must hold a relevant Treaty with the United States. Click here to find out if your country is on the list.

Becoming eligible for the E-2 Visa

If your country is not on the list then you can become eligible through a two-step process. First you need to obtain citizenship of an E-2 Treaty country, then you can apply for the E-2.

It sounds complicated, but in reality it is relatively simply. We have done this for a number of clients in the past. The whole process can take as little as nine months if everything runs smoothly.

Grenada and Turkey offer fast and cost-effective routes to citizenship that can provide a springboard to the E-2 Visa. Learn more about Grenada’s citizenship program here. Learn more about Turkey here.

Benefits of the E-2 Visa

So why have people bothered going to so much trouble? Well for one thing, Turkey and Grenada offer multiple benefits in their own right. But also because people get excited by the E-2 visa, which allows them to move to the United States for the purposes of owning and operating a business.

  • Investment requirements are relatively modest (no hard-and-fast rule, but usually starting from around $100,000).
  • You can start your own business or purchase a franchise
  • You can bring your spouse and children with you
  • Spouses can apply to work outside the business
  • You have freedom to travel to and from United States
  • There is no longer a requirement for a physical office space
  • The visa is renewable indefinitely – if the underlying business remains

E2 to EB-5

Unlike the EB-5 visa, the E-2 visa does not offer permanent residency. So if you close the underlying business, you would be required to leave the United States or find an alternative.

The E-2 Business Could Qualify for EB-5 if it Meets the Requirements

That is where the EB-5 comes in. There are two options for transitioning to EB-5 from E-2. Firstly, if your E-2 business has grown large enough, it may qualify as an EB-5 investment in its own right. The invested capital would need to be more than $900,000 if your business is situated in a targeted employment area ($1.8 million outside of these areas). It would also need to be able to sustain ten full-time employees.

Alternatively, you can invest in the EB-5 Regional Center program separately to your E-2 business. This removes the challenge of ensuring your business is consistently compliant with the EB-5 rules. While the Regional Center works to ensure compliance, you and your attorney should still be conducting due diligence on the Regional Center’s investment project to identify any risks to your Green Card and investment.

Case study

Our client established a New York-based company that sells well-designed, high quality, comfortable women’s clothing. It sells products online but the items will also be available in luxury department stores.  

Customers are able to order items directly from the Company’s website, Instagram, or mobile application. The Company uses engaging social media content, with a focus on building a brand through storytelling and it employs technology to create an immersive experience for clients through application of augmented reality (AR).

Our client was born in China but is currently an Australian citizen. She already has an approved EB-5 application (Form I-526), but faced a long wait for an EB-5 visa with all other Chinese-born applicants.

Chinese citizens are not eligible for the E-2 visa, but by holding Australian citizenship, she was eligible. This means the client was able to apply for an E-2 visa to pursue her entrepreneurial dreams in the United States.

Nevertheless, most of her funds came from China, which meant there were restrictions on the transfer of funds that required careful planning. Additionally, the closure of the US consulates in Melbourne delayed the interview and slowed the whole process by several months.

We wish her the best of luck in America.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Italy’s Annual Quota for Non-EU Migrant Workers Tops 30,000 in 2020

By Matteo Tisato

Each year the Italian government announces how many working visas will be available under its “quota system”. The government releases a Flow Decree establishing a number of available working visas across two main categories.

For 2020 there will be a total of 30,850 non-European workers who will be able to enter Italy regularly.

The 30,850 visa quota is split as follows:

  1. 12,850 visas are available to non-seasonal subordinate jobs, and self-employers, of which 6,150 working permits are available to those who are already in Italy and apply for the conversion of their Permit of Stay (Permesso di Soggiorno);
  2. 18,000 visas are available to seasonal workers in the transportation, constructions, and tourism fields, of which 4.500 are reserved for those coming from Albania, Algeria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, South Korea, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Ethiopia, Philippines, Gambia, Ghana, Japan, India, Kosovo, Mali, Morocco, Mauritius, Moldova, Montenegro, Niger, Nigeria,  North Macedonia, Senegal, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tunisia, Ukraine. For 2020/2021, three more countries have been included: Bangladesh, Pakistan, and El Salvador. Of this category, a sub quota of 6,000 permits are limited those working in the agricultural field. 100 visas are available for those who resides in Venezuela and have at least one Italian ancestor.

There are many different reasons our clients want to move to the boot-shaped peninsula in the Mediterranean Sea.

  • working
  • establishing residency / desire to live in Italy
  • investment opportunities in the real estate market
  • studying and cultural experiences
  • retirement
  • tax benefits

Of all of these, work is one of the most popular motivations. A good 25% of people who contact us are interested in moving to Italy because of its employment opportunities and fair labour conditions.

We all know Covid-19 has had a catastrophic impact on the employment rate in Europe and worldwide. Even before the pandemic, Italy was still struggling to recover from a deep economic crisis, which hit the youth employment especially badly.

However, over the last 2 years, the government made up a series of reforms to the labour market, also allowing people to retire earlier.

For those foreigners who have an employer available in sponsoring them, the Italian labour market offers excellent rights and public benefits.

Benefits of being employed in the Italian labour market

  • First, each employer is insured under the Italian Social Security legislation;
  • Second, the average working week does not exceed 40 hours and overtime is forbidden when it exceeds 250 hours per year;
  • Third, each employer is entitled to have at least a month (four weeks) of paid annual leave, and 11 public holiday days;
  • Fourth, the parental leave is very well regulated in Italy and both mothers and fathers can take a leave up to six months until the child turns 12;
  • Fifth, in case a contract is terminated, all the employees are entitled to a very well-regulated and extensive severance pay;
  • Sixth, workers are entitled to sick leave with full remuneration (most of the time) and have the right to maintain their job while they are sick.

Contact our Italy Team to discuss in greater detail.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Cyprus Ends Citizenship Program – What are the Alternatives?

Cyprus has announced it is closing its popular citizenship by investment program from next month, so what alternative options are available?

Under the Cyprus program, dual citizenship could be obtained within just six months in exchange for a €2 million investment on the island. Since Cyprus is a European Union member, Cypriot citizenship offered the opportunity to live and work in any one of the 27 EU member states (28 until Brexit).

Maltese Citizenship by Investment

The closure of the Cyprus program leaves Malta as the fastest route to European Union citizenship. The Maltese citizenship program requires a €650,000 donation, a €150,000 investment, as well as a commitment to reside in Malta and meet a threshold cost for the rent or purchase of a home.

EU Residency to Citizenship

The alternative European Union programs are more focused on residency by investment with the opportunity to progress to citizenship after a period of residency has been maintained. Bulgaria offers a fast transition from residency to citizenship, while the UK differs depending upon how much you invest, and for Italy it takes ten years. (More on this below)

Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program

There is a candidate for European Union membership that offers citizenship by investment for those willing to wait an undetermined period of time to become and EU citizen. Montenegro offers a time-limited citizenship by investment program that is running to the end of 2021. The Montenegro program requires a minimum €250,000 investment in Real Estate (more capital is required in economically developed parts of the country) as well as a €100,000 donation to the public coffers. Not only is Montenegro a candidate for EU membership, it is also a member of NATO.

Turkish Citizenship by Investment

Another nearby NATO member, Turkey, also offers an enticing citizenship by investment program. The Turkish program is cheaper than the Montenegro program in that it only requires a €250,000 investment in Real Estate to be maintained for three years or more. Alternatively, Turkish citizenship could be obtained by maintaining €500,000 in deposits with a Turkish bank for three years.

Access to the United States E-2 Treaty Investor Visa

One of the many advantages of Turkish citizenship is that it offers access to the sought-after United States E-2 Treaty Investor Visa. This visa allows a person to move to the US with their families for the purpose of running a business. While the primary applicant must run the business, the spouse can apply to work in the United States.

You must hold citizenship of an E-2 Treaty country. Check our list to see if your country is on there. Citizens of many countries, including India, China, Vietnam, South Africa, Russia, Nigeria are not eligible for the E-2 visa. Combining an E-2 application with citizenship by investment is relatively straightforward. Click here or contact us to learn more.

Grenada Citizenship by Investment

Another country that offers access to the US E-2 Treaty investor visa is Grenada in the Caribbean. Its citizenship program is even more cost effective than the Turkish program. Investors can choose between making a donation to the government of $150,000 or making an investment in Real Estate starting from $220,000. The Grenada program has fast processing times – it can take less than two months to obtain citizenship. Grenada has a strong passport with visa free access to the UK, the EU and the People’s Republic of China.

Comparison of Citizenship by Investment Programs

United Kingdom Residency by Investment

Back to Europe, and the alternative options are to obtain residency by investment as a pathway to citizenship over the medium term. The United Kingdom, for example, offers residency in exchange for a minimum £2 million donation. Higher investment amounts reduce the amount of time before you can obtain settled status, termed indefinite leave to remain. For £2 million the time period is five years; for £5 million that is reduced to three years; and for anything upward of £10 million it requires just two years before you can apply for settled status. Twelve months after obtaining indefinitely leave to remain, a person can apply for UK citizenship.

UK Investor Visa Options

Italian Residency by Investment

Italy offers something similar to the United Kingdom. Recently, in response to Covid-19, the Italian government reduced the investment requirement for its investor visa. Italian residency by investment can be obtained in one of the four ways listed below. The investor must maintain ten years of residency before they can apply to naturalize as an Italian citizen.

at least 250.000 Euros in an innovative start-up company incorporated in Italy; 

at least 500.000 Euros in equity instruments of companies incorporated and operating in Italy; 

at least 2 million Euros in Government Bonds issued by the Italian Republic

philanthropic donations of at least 1 million Euros, in the field of culture, education, immigration, scientific research, recovery of cultural assets and landscapes

Portugal Residency Permit

Portugal offers a residency permit in exchange for an eligible investment. The permit is granted for a two year period, but can be renewed in two year instalments. After five years, the permit holder can apply for permanent residence or citizenship.

Investment options include, real estate, bank deposits, government bonds, setting up a company, and more. For real estate, the minimum requirement is €350,000 for old houses and €500,000 for newer builds. That amount is reduced in areas of low population density.

Greece Residency Permit

Greece offers residency permits for a cost-effective €250,000 investment in real estate. The permit is granted for five years and can be continuously renewed provided the underlying property ownership is maintained. Lease and timeshare options may also qualify.

United States Investor Visa

The United States EB-5 program offers a Green Card in exchange for a $900,000 investment. The applicant, a spouse, and any children under the age of 21 can be covered by a single investment. A Green Card offers permanent residency in the United States and can subsequently be converted to citizenship, provided residency conditions are met.

The investment must create and sustain ten American jobs and must be made in a Targeted Employment Area (outside of these areas the investment required doubles to $1.8 million.) While you can make and manage the investment yourself, most applicants opt invest with “Regional Centers”.

These organizations aggregate investors into new commercial ventures usually involved in construction. These job-hungry projects help ensure compliance with the requirements of the EB-5 program. While the capital is at risk, careful due diligence of the project and Regional Center will mitigate that risk.

Conclusion

This is not an exhaustive list. Other countries like Spain, Ireland, St Kitts & Nevis, and Dominica all offer residency and citizenship by investment programs. The abrupt departure of the Cyprus from the industry does not end the dream of global mobility by investment. The best thing to do is to share your goals and budgets with an immigration attorney who can advise on the best option to suit you, your family, and your business.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Tax Incentives for Investing and Renting Residential Properties in Italy

By Matteo Tisato

The lure of Italy is undeniable. Stunning landscapes, historic cities, culture, design, culinary tradition. Before Covid-19 hit Italy so badly in early 2020, Rome was the country’s most popular destination with almost 27 million of visitors every year, or 6.4 percent of the total, followed by Milan and Venice (both 2.8 percent), and Florence (2.4 percent).

However, in the recent years, Italy has become an excellent place attracting not only tourists but international investors as well, who are finding always more opportunities and great deals even on tax regimes.

Today we dig into the international real estate business and want to share something that most potential investors in the real estate market do not know: A 10% flat rate for incomes coming from renting out residential properties. 

A 10% flat rate for incomes coming from renting out residential properties. 

If in most cases a rate of 21% is applied to these incomes, for lease contracts that meet certain requirements it is possible to qualify for a 10% flat fee, which is certainly more convenient for the investors/owners. Here are the main criteria to qualify for this special taxation regime:

  • Firstly, the residential lease must be in the form of 3 plus 2 years, or Interim contracts (up to 18 months) or student contracts (up to 36 months).
  • Secondly, the 10% flat rate applies only to leases for which the maximum amount is not freely established by the parties but is determined in accordance with agreements made by the local authorities and the most representative tenant organizations.
  • Thirdly, the 10% flat rate applies exclusively to homes located in specific areas, including the biggest cities such as Bari, Bologna, Catania, Florence, Genova, Milan, Naples, Palermo, Rome, Turin, and Venice. Buying a property in these cities may also include further reductions on IMU, which is the Italian property tax.

International investors are always more interested in investing in the Italian real estate by taking advantage of the above tax regime. In addition, house expenses are usually paid by the tenant, and these include water-sewer taxes, condominium taxes, gas, electricity, Internet/Wifi, and Tv/cable tax.

In addition to reduced rental taxes, Italy offers a range of tax benefits to attract foreign workers and retirees. This includes a generous time-limited reduction on income tax for workers who move their tax residency to Italy. As well as a 7% flat tax on overseas pensions for retirees who switch their tax residency to Italy. Conditions apply.

Italy also attracts high-net-worth-individuals (HNWIs) through a €100,000 flat tax for up to 15 years. This has proved popular with 784 people taking up this offer over the past three years. The majority of HNWI applicants (10%) are from the United Kingdom, where Brexit uncertainty coupled with Italy’s generous tax provisions, have spurred people to act.

For anyone interested in moving to Italy, there are a range of options available. Including the investor visa – for which the Italian government has just reduced the investment amounts; the elective residency visa – for which you need to prove annual stable income in excess of €32,000; the European Blue Card – for highly-skilled individuals; and naturalization by proving Italian ancestry.

Learn more in our podcast.

Contact Us to discuss your case.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients. External links are not an endorsement of the content.


Italy Flat Tax for HNWIs Leads to 784 New Tax Residents

The Italian authorities have announced that 784 high-net-worth individuals have applied for tax residency in Italy over the first three years of the program. The reason? A €100,000 flat tax on income for up to fifteen years.

The country with the most applicants (10%) was Great Britain, followed by France (58 applicants), the United States (20 applicants) and Russia (19 applicants).

Italy’s attempts to attract foreigners to obtain tax residency does not stop with high-net-worth individuals. The country has attempted to attract retirees to switch their tax residency with the lure of a 7% annual flat tax on overseas income (e.g. pension), with an emphasis on retiring to the southern regions of Italy.

Italy is also seeking to attract more people of working age, especially the self-employed. A generous tax incentive for workers includes a 70% reduction in income tax on Italian income for five years, with the potential to increase and extend the discount if settling in the South or bringing family members.

In addition to tax residency, Italy offers a range of residency and citizenship options. The country offers and investor visa program, and recently offered substantial discounts to attract more investors to obtain residency.

Other options include obtaining the European Blue Card for highly skilled workers, or obtaining an Elective Residency Visa if you can prove you have a steady income of at least €32,000.

An alternative pathway to Italy is by claiming a right to citizenship through an Italian ancestor. Given high levels of emigration in the early twentieth century, a surprising number of Americans, Brazilians, Argentinians, Venezuelans and Mexicans can claim Italian citizenship.

Given the favourable flat tax and the high quality of living, it is little surprise that Italy has registered almost 800 new HNWI tax residents. It is also understandable that Brits are among the highest applicants, given that British citizens will lose their automatic access to reside in European Union countries after Brexit.

As with anything to do with tax, there is considerable nuance in the details. It is vital to engage tax counsel before planning your move. Please contact Matteo Tisato in our Italy team to discuss your specific circumstances in greater detail.

This article is published for clients, friends and other interested visitors for information purposes only. The contents of the article do not constitute legal advice and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Davies & Associates or any of its attorneys, staff or clients.


Positano Italy

Podcast: Chasing the Italian Dream: Residency & Citizenship Options

Matteo Tisato, Senior Immigration Analyst at Davies & Associates takes you through various options for moving to Italy, including:

The Italian Investor Visa.

Matteo discusses recent changes to the Investor Visa. The Italian Investor visa has long been considered uncompetitive on price in relation to other, similar European programs. To attract more high-net-worth individuals as a result of Covid. The government has halved the minimum investment requirement of certain investor visa criteria. The pathway to citizenship is also discussed.

The Elective Residency Visa

Matteo discusses the benefits of one of the most popular visas for people looking to work or retire in Italy. The core requirement of the Elective Residency visa is to rent or lease a house and have an income of 32,000 Euros or more.

Italian Citizenship Through Ancestry

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Italy experienced mass migration on a vast scale. Many people around the world, especially in the United States, Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, and Argentina, can claim Italian citizenship through an ancestor. Matteo talks us through the main requirements, including the need to provide documentation to support the claim.

EU Blue Card

The European Union offers a “blue card” program to attract highly skilled workers from around the world. So-named to infer a link to the US Green Card. As you will hear, it is actually more similar to the H-1B visa.

Italian Tax

The Italian tax system can be daunting even to the initiated. Many of our clients want to know the best way to structure their taxes when moving to Italy from abroad. Italy has recently made it more attractive for workers, retirees and high net worth individual to become tax resident.

Hosted by Duncan Hill. Neither Duncan nor Matteo are licensed lawyers in the US or Italy and nothing in this blog constitutes legal advice. Contact Davies & Associates to discuss your circumstances with an attorney.