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December 12, 2020

In a bid to combat the economic impact of the pandemic, Slovenia announces it is considering a proposal to launch a citizenship or residence by investment programme for 2021, making it the latest Balkan country to do so.

The proposal to launch a Slovenian investment programme was recently put forward by the Slovenian Government’s Strategic Council for Debureaucratisation, a government advisory body launched to find ways of finding more investment, argued that such a programme, be it for citizenship and/or residency, would help to raise necessary funds for the Slovenian economy, which like many other countries worldwide has been negatively impacted by the pandemic and the financial crisis.

The proposal, which is currently under consideration by the Slovenian Ministry of Finance, proposes offering residence permits or citizenship in exchange for foreign investment, with the preliminary minimum investment amount rumoured to be from €1 million.

Like sister Balkan country Montenegro, which unveiled a CBI Programme in 2019, Slovenian citizenship would provide foreigners with the much sought-after opportunity to travel, live, study and work in any EU country. It would also give citizens visa-free access to 180 countries, and for residents, would provide the opportunity to travel within the EU without visas.

In addition to Balkan neighbour Montenegro’s Citizenship by Investment programme, which has witnessed a 142% surge in enquiries in recent months, other Balkan countries looking into such programmes include North Macedonia and Albania, while neighbouring country Russia has recently also put forward a draft bill for a residency by investment programme.

With the aim of strengthening the Russian economy and creating new jobs, if passed, a Russia RBI programme would allow foreigners to acquire residency permits of Russia upon the fulfilment of one of five conditions, including a minimum investment of at least 10 millions rubles (US$130,000) and the hiring of at least 10 Russian workers or purchase of property worth at least US$390,000.

These nations are witnessing how countries such as Montenegro, Greece and Portugal have managed to reap economic rewards by running CBI or RBI Programmes and with the pandemic having hit their economies hard are now considering ways of attracting foreign investors.

Against the backdrop of the pandemic, many countries who offer such programmes are further revising the terms of the programmes to make them more competitive and attractive.

Take Greece. In May 2020, the government simplified the procedure for foreigners to obtain its residence permit programme for real estate investments, abolishing the mandatory visit to Greece and allowing investors to pay from overseas. While in April 2020, Portugal simplified the conditions for obtaining citizenship for the children and grandchildren of the investor.

Furthermore, Italy recently implemented changes to its residency by investment programme to make it more competitive, not only slashing some of its minimum investment thresholds by half but opening it up to third-world country nationals and abolishing the