The African Citizenship by Investment (CBI) market has been heating up of late with Gambia being the latest nation to enter the fray. Their CBI offering copies many of the other successful programs in Africa and has garnered quite a bit of interest from Chinese applicants. Subsequently, let’s take a look at the Gambia Citizenship by Investment program and whether it’s worthwhile.
- What Is the Gambia CBI Program?
- What Are the Requirements of the Gambia Citizenship by Investment Program?
- What Documents Will I Need to Provide?
- How Long Does the Process Take?
- Is the Gambian Passport Worthwhile?
- Can I Live in Gambia?
- Is the Gambia Citizenship by Investment Program Worth It?
- The Final Word on Gambia Citizenship by Investment
What Is the Gambia CBI Program?
In short, the program grants immediate citizenship based upon an investment, of sufficient amount, into the country which benefits their economic development goals. This can be very attractive for someone looking for a second passport and access to, a very different list of visa-free countries.
This program has been quite popular with Chinese nationals looking to escape the financial and personal constraints of mainland China. Although China might not recognize their newly acquired dual citizenship (if they even tell them!) they can still utilize it to travel and open bank accounts without the over-watch of the Chinese government.
What Are the Requirements of the Gambia Citizenship by Investment Program?
Firstly, don’t expect to have your application rubber stamped just because Gambia is a relatively poor country. They will still undertake significant due diligence on your background to ensure that you are an appropriate citizen.
Subsequently, if you have a significant criminal record than you would be best to look elsewhere as they will find out from Interpol and reject you out of hand.
The requirements are simple in that the Gambia CBI program requires an investment of US$250,000 into the country in either real estate or by establishing a direct business connection in an industry that is approved and benefits the economy of Gambia.
Once you can demonstrate this connection, you will then be able to apply for the Citizenship by Investment program.
What Documents Will I Need to Provide?
You can expect to be asked to provide the following documents at your initial meeting:
- Your Home Passport
- Your Birth Certificate
- Source of Funds
- Work and Business Background
- A Police Clearance Check from your Home Country
If any questions are raised during the immigration interview then you may be requested to provide additional documentation to support your/your spouses applications.
How Long Does the Process Take?
Surprisingly, the application and interview process is very quick and can be completed in a single weekend whilst staying at a local resort. The processing of the application, and requisite background checks normally take around 4 weeks.
Assuming there are no problems with the application, you will then be issued with your citizenship documentation and a new Gambian passport for your pleasure.
Is the Gambian Passport Worthwhile?
This is likely going to be your biggest headache with the Gambian CBI program. The passport is ranked around 70th in the world and only has visa-free access to around 46 countries and visa-on-arrival to 21. Most of the nations on the visa-free list are a mix of Asian and African and relatively less travelled.
Subsequently, anywhere you want to go of substance, such as Australia, U.S.A, UK, and Europe will require you applying for a Visa before travelling. However, many of you will likely be seeking a second passport for business purposes as opposed to travel.
Can I Live in Gambia?
With your new passport in hand you are most certainly able to reside anywhere in Gambia that you please. The country is rich in certain resources and there may be some scope for business to be done, similar to many Chinese, but it is certainly difficult.
The reality is that, depending on where you are coming from, Gambia’s services may not actually be up to what you are used to. The country is, economically speaking, relatively poor and there is significant crime and squalor to deal with.
You will be required to visit to undertake your immigration formalities and you will be able to make an decision as to whether you wish to reside there at that point. However, I would suggest that if actual residency is your ultimate goal than there are better citizenship by investment programs out there.
In short, Gambia is still a developing country and you need to view residency there through the lens of a nation that is still economically quite poor.
Is the Gambia Citizenship by Investment Program Worth It?
In my humble opinion, I think that a second passport should always be treated as a bolt hole that you can move to in the event you need to activate your Plan ‘B’. Unfortunately, I would have to say that I wouldn’t, personally, want to ever live in Gambia.
Additionally, the visa-free access for the passport is extremely limited and you will be scrutinized whilst travelling on the document. If you are planning on travelling through any major nations than you will always need to secure a visa before arrival. This is frustrating and doesn’t really lend the Gambian CBI to being seen as ‘travel’ friendly.
However, the business and tax aspects of having a second passport from Gambia could be advantageous. If your home country restricts you from doing certain business activities than the passport might make sense for you to obtain.
The Final Word on Gambia Citizenship by Investment
US$250,000 is not a lot of money in the scheme of the various CBI programs. However, I question whether you will be able to reliably get that money back and sell your ‘investments’ in the future which makes it effectively a donation. In addition, the passport is not very valuable and the reality is that, let’s face it, living in Gambia is unlikely to be on your buck list.
Ultimately, I don’t believe that Gambia will get many wealthy westerners seeking a second passport program to apply. Chinese might consider the program but, in the end, there are significantly better locations to obtain a passport from.
Instead, I would recommend checking out Vanuatu, and the St Vincent and the Grenadines for their CBI programs. You will find that they are much nicer places to live and their requisite passports actually have some use for travel.