Residency and citizenship by investment programs around the world offer individuals and their families the opportunity to secure a second residency or citizenship in exchange for making a substantial investment in the host country’s economy. These programs are particularly appealing for their potential to provide greater travel freedom, improved lifestyle, and increased business opportunities.

What is Residency by Investment (RBI)?

Residency by Investment (RBI) schemes offer a pathway for foreign nationals and their families to obtain residency in a new country through a qualifying capital investment. While investing in real estate is a common method, various programs provide alternative investment options to achieve residency status. Often referred to as investor visas or Golden Visas, these programs typically confer the rights to live, work, and study in the host country, opening up new opportunities for investors and their families.

Pros of Residency by Investment

  • Lower Investment Threshold: Typically, RBI programs require a smaller investment than CBI programs.
  • Pathway to Citizenship: Often serves as a step towards full citizenship, subject to meeting certain conditions.
  • Access to Local Resources: Grants the right to live, work, and study in the host country.
  • Less Stringent Requirements: May have fewer residency requirements compared to naturalization processes.
  • Tax Benefits: Possible tax advantages without the need for full citizenship.

Cons of Residency by Investment

  • Renewal Requirements: Temporary residency permits may require regular renewal and associated costs.
  • No Passport: Does not provide a passport or the same level of travel freedom as citizenship.
  • Limited Political Rights: Typically does not grant the right to vote or hold public office in the host country.
  • Contingent Status: Subject to changes in policy or personal circumstances that may affect the right to maintain residency.
vacation home by the lake

What is Citizenship by Investment (CBI)?

Citizenship by Investment (CBI) provides a route for foreign investors and their families to acquire citizenship in a different country, similar to Residency by Investment (RBI) programs, through a qualifying financial contribution. CBI programs feature a range of investment opportunities, such as purchasing real estate, investing in government bonds, engaging in business projects, or making donations to charity, allowing investors to choose the option that best aligns with their goals and values.

Pros of Citizenship by Investment (CBI)

  • Immediate Passport: Offers a second passport and the travel freedoms that come with it, often including visa-free access to many countries.
  • Permanent Status: Citizenship is usually for life and can be passed down to descendants.
  • Full Rights: Includes full rights of citizens, such as voting and access to public services.
  • Global Mobility: Increased ease of travel for business or personal purposes.
  • Security: A sense of security with a permanent legal status that is not easily revoked.

Cons of Citizenship by Investment (CBI)

  • Higher Cost: CBI programs generally require a larger financial investment.
  • Tax Implications: Full citizenship may come with global income taxation or other tax responsibilities.
  • Dual Citizenship Limitations: Not all countries allow dual citizenship, which could necessitate renouncing your original nationality.
  • Due Diligence: Often involves rigorous background checks and longer processing times.
  • Commitment to a New Country: May require a deeper commitment to the host country, including understanding its culture and, sometimes, language.
Portuguese Citizenship Vs. Permanent Residency in Portugal

Key differences between Residency vs Citizenship

Passport Eligibility

One of the key distinctions between residency and citizenship programs lies in the privilege of obtaining a passport from the host country. While holding either temporary or permanent residency status does not confer eligibility to apply for a host country’s passport, acquiring citizenship changes this dynamic significantly. Upon becoming a citizen, individuals gain the right to apply for a passport, offering them not just a travel document but also a symbol of their new national identity.


Citizenship offers a lifelong status that not only endures throughout the individual’s life but can also be passed down to subsequent generations. In contrast, residency tends to be a more transient condition. While Residency by Investment (RBI) schemes generally award temporary residence permits, there are exceptions where permanent residency is granted.

The duration of temporary residence permits can vary, typically spanning either two or five years. Upon the expiration of this period, these permits require renewal to maintain residency status. This renewal process is a crucial step for individuals looking to extend their stay under the conditions of the RBI program.

Residency Requirements

Most Residency by Investment (RBI) programs come with a minimum stay requirement, which specifies the least number of days an individual must spend in the country to retain their residency status. This condition ensures that investors maintain a tangible connection to the country. On the other hand, for those who have obtained citizenship, residency requirements are typically nonexistent, allowing citizens the flexibility to live wherever they choose without jeopardizing their citizenship status.

Legal Status

Another notable distinction lies in the legal status conferred by each type of investor visa. Citizenship represents the pinnacle of legal standing within a country. Through Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs, successful applicants are bestowed with complete citizenship rights, encompassing the privilege to participate in elections through voting.

The specifics of voting rights can vary widely across different nations. However, a common thread is that residency typically does not grant the right to vote. This highlights a fundamental difference in the political engagement and rights afforded to citizens versus residents.

passport in hand

Which countries offer CBI programs?

Below you can find the most popular citizenship by investment (CBI) programs.

Which countries offer RBI programs?

Below you can find the most popular residency by investment (RBI) programs.

The Portugal Golden Visa Program

For more videos about investing or moving to Portugal, explore our YouTube channel here: YouTube Channel Portugal Residency Advisors.

How Portugal Residency Advisors can help?

At Portugal Residency Advisors, we provide expert guidance to individuals seeking to secure residency through the Golden Visa program. We carefully evaluate each client’s unique situation to recommend the most suitable investment path and ensure that all legal and financial requirements are meticulously met for a seamless application process. 

Our proficiency in managing documentation and adhering to compliance standards significantly increases the likelihood of a successful residency application.

Frequently asked questions about Residency and Citizenship by Investment

What is Citizenship by Investment (CBI)?

CBI is a process by which an individual can obtain a second citizenship and passport by investing in the economy of the host country.

What is Residency by Investment (RBI)?

RBI allows an individual to obtain legal residency status in a country through investment. This can eventually lead to citizenship, subject to the country’s immigration laws.

What are the benefits of CBI and RBI programs?

The benefits include visa-free travel, potential tax advantages, the right to live, work, and study in the host country, and increased global mobility.

Can I include my family in my CBI or RBI application?

Most programs allow you to include family members, such as a spouse and dependents, in your application.

Is dual citizenship allowed in CBI programs?

Many countries allow dual citizenship, but some do not. It’s essential to verify this with the host country’s immigration policy.

Is Portugal golden visa a RBI or CBI?

The Portugal Golden Visa is a Residency by Investment (RBI) program. It offers non-EU/EEA citizens the chance to obtain a temporary residency permit in exchange for a significant investment in the country’s economy.

How long is the Portuguese nationality processing time?

The processing time for Portuguese nationality can vary depending on various factors, such as the specific circumstances of the applicant and the current workload of the authorities handling the applications. Currently you may expect a processing time up to 24 months.