Armenia’s planned Citizenship By Investment program: Here’s what we know thus far…

Armenia CBI program 2023

The past week has been a bloodbath for the investment migration industry. But demand won’t be disappearing, and more countries will launch residency and Citizenship By Investment programs in response. One such country is Armenia, which is reportedly launching a CBI program shortly…

But first… Could Armenia make sense as a Plan B destination?

Armenia is a landlocked country situated in the South Caucasus region of Eurasia, sharing borders with Georgia, Azerbaijan, Iran and Turkey. Boasting beautiful and varied scenery, a rich cultural history and a low cost of living, it’s a place many people would enjoy spending some time in.

And while Armenia won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, nor will places like Turkey. Or Montenegro. Or Latvia, for that matter. (And all these countries have (or recently had) Golden Visas or Citizenship By Investment programs.)

As a plus, the country is not situated on some far-flung island in the Caribbean, making it far more practical as a Plan B – or even a Plan A – destination. Plus, Yerevan, the Armenian capital, is rated as “3/7 – Inexpensive” in the Sovereign Cost of Living Index.

On the downside, English is not widely spoken there, and Armenian is one of the hardest languages to learn. And in terms of passport power, it scores an underwhelming “C-” in the Sovereign Passport Ranking Index.

Yup – you won’t be getting into the EU or UK visa free on this travel document, although it does offer visa-free access to China.

But before you write Armenia’s passport off entirely… Consider that Turkey’s passport, scoring a “C” Grade, is THE most popular CBI passport in the world.

Furthermore, there’s always a chance that the quality of the Armenian passport could improve over time. (We compare these two options in more detail below…)

Armenia’s incoming CBI program at a glance

Let’s lead with the obvious – the Armenian government is launching a CBI program to cash in on the fact that Russian citizens have been widely banned from obtaining alternative residency and citizenship in most countries outside of Turkey, Belarus and Georgia. (And across the EU, in particular.)

As of this writing, details pertaining to the new program remain fairly sparse. What is known, however, is that the country’s Citizenship Law (in Armenian) was amended on July 7, 2022 to allow the acquisition of Armenian citizenship by means of “making a significant economic contribution” to the country.

That’s an important prerequisite for any legitimate CBI program, and lends serious credence to the Armenian government’s plans.

What will the investment options look like?

According to recently published draft legislation, Armenia will likely be offering numerous investment options, including:

An investment of $150,000 in real estate (10 year hold period).
A donation of $150,000 to a scientific or educational foundation
An investment of $150,000 in a local company (10 year hold period)
An investment $150,000 in government bonds (7 year hold period)
An investment of $100,000 in an IT company or a venture capital fund

The program will also offer a number of non-investment (i.e. skills based) options. For example, if you have:

20+ years of work experience in a publicly traded IT company
10+ years of work experience in a scientific field, and authored 5 or more scientific articles
If you are a professor in the area of healthcare…

Then you could be eligible to apply for Armenian citizenship and receive its passport (although there are likely to be some significant T&Cs (read: “minimum in-country presence requirements”).

A couple of immediate observations:

While the Armenian CBI’s real estate option costs only about a third of the Turkish one (which is $400,000), its lock-in period is also more than 3X longer (3 years vs 10 years).

Given that the minimum required donation option is $150,000 excluding fees, you can get a far superior passport in the Caribbean (think “B” Grade vs “C” Grade, along with UK and Schengen visa-free access).

Having said that, most of Armenia’s planned options will be actual investments, and you’ll likely be able to recoup your principal.

But if making a donation of $150K cuts against your grain, the government bond option might make sense – subject, of course, to all the usual potential risks, including the Armenian government defaulting on their undertakings to refund your principal.

Also, if you’re buying bonds denominated in Armenian Dram, you will likely face serious currency conversion risks, too.

But if you’ve read this far, chances are that none of these points have been complete deal-breakers for you.

So next, let’s take a look at how Turkey and Armenia – and their CBI offerings – compare as Plan B destinations…

Turkey CBI vs Armenia CBI: Will the latter be a compelling deal or not?

Minimum CBI Cost Investment: $100,000+ OR $150,000+ (various options);

Donation: $150,000+ (science or education)
$400,000 (Real Estate)
Passport power “C-” Grade “C” Grade
Cost of living (capital city) 2/7 – Very Cheap 1/7 – Dirt Cheap
Safety 2/7 – Very Safe 3/7 – Safe
Pollution 3/5 – Average 4/5 – Polluted
Broadband download speed (capital city) 45.01 Mbps 35.34 Mbps
English proficiency 4/5 – Low 4/5 – Low
UNESCO World Heritage Sites 3 19

In conclusion

Realistically, the incoming Armenian CBI program is going to be targeting Russian and Chinese nationals – two of the most highly motivated nations in the world when it comes to acquiring alternative citizenship.

But if you’re an early adopter with a taste for adventure… and neither the Turkish nor Caribbean CBI programs meet your objectives, then the Armenian program could be well worth investigating.

Yours in freedom,

Sovereign Man

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