Wealthy Iranians Restricted from Investing in Immigrant Visas

Bulgaria is now one of the few countries offering Immigrant Investor Visas to Iranian nationals.

The attack on the British embassy in Iran in November last year not only severely damaged relations between the two countries but it also prompted several other countries to impose visa restrictions on all Iranian nationals.

After protesters stormed and ransacked the British embassy and residential compound in the capital Tehran, the UK prime minister warned of “serious consequences” for Iran. This included the expulsion of all Iranian diplomats from the UK and the closure of the Iranian embassy in London.

But more importantly, the UK border agency announced that it would be no longer processing UK visas for Iranians in Tehran, instead applicants must submit papers in the UAE or Turkey.

However, a spokesperson for the British Embassy in Dubai insisted that there was “no change” in the application process for Immigrant Investor Programs to the UK for Iranians.

But in a sign of solidarity with the British government, officials in Quebec announced that they would be imposing “restrictions on the acceptance of immigration applications for the investor programs” from Iranian nationals. This caused out roar amongst the PICAC, (Persian Immigration Consultant Association of Canada, Vancouver/ BC) and prompted them to voice their objections about the intended restrictions on Iranian nationals in an ‘open letter’ to the Quebec government.

A similar announcement was made by the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, where they also offer immigrant investor programs to wealthy businessmen and their families.

“Our Economic Citizenship Programme has taken a decision to suspend any granting of economic citizenship to Iranians who are living in Iran at the point of their application for investment in the economic citizenship programme,” Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, The Right Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas said during his monthly press conference.

He explained, “We do this in strong support of the unfolding events coming from the international community in observing what is happening in Iran. We are a country friendly to all and enemy and hostile to none.”

Dr. Douglas also noted that the international community has become increasingly concerned that Iran “continues to flaunt whatever support it might have had in the international community with regard to its nuclear programme.”

This means that wealthy Iranians who had planned to invest in a western country that offers Immigrant Investor programs are now severely restricted in their choice. Bulgaria is one of the few programs that is still widely available to Iranian nationals for economic citizenship investment.

The others include, the US, UK, Quebec and Canada and St. Kitts and Nevis. Bulgaria is one of the most recent Investor programs to be established for residence and citizenship. The decision came about after the Bulgaria Government in 2009 decided to modify the legislation and waive the physical residence requirement for qualified investors, provided they invest €511, 292 (1,000,000 BGN) in a guaranteed governmental bond portfolio for five years. The procedure of obtaining permanent residence through this program is very efficient, taking only six to eight months to complete. In order to qualify for citizenship after 5 years, investors have to keep their investments in the country and are offered a financing option in order to comply with this requirement of about €180,000.