Albania on path to launch CBI program

The government of Albania is looking for a private company to promote its planned citizenship-by-investment (CBI) program, a signal that indicates the country is moving forward with the endeavor despite facing opposition from the European Union.

The decision, passed in July, opens up the bidding war for an international firm to spearhead a public-private partnership promoting the Balkan country’s to-be-determined CBI offering, which was first announced in 2019.

Bledar Skenderi, director of the Special Citizenship Programs Drafting Agency charged with creating Albania’s CBI program, told media, that his country’s Ministry of the Interior “will form a working group that will draft the program. Then, an international competition will be opened, where the winning company will be chosen based on the expertise and experience it offers in this field.”

Skenderi added that Albanian government authorities would ultimately be handling the CBI applications with the needed vetting and processing.

EU’s concern about Albania’s CBI plans

Albania’s move is likely to meet opposition from EU leaders in Brussels, who have been critical of CBI programs in general, associating them with security risks, money laundering and tax evasion. Albania has been trying to ascend to the EU since 2009, becoming an official candidate for accession in 2014.

It’s unclear if Albania will follow the route of its neighbor and fellow EU accession candidate, Montenegro, whose CBI program is set to expire this December after three years and reportedly minimal demand. It too faced similar criticism from EU authorities.

Parviz Malakouti, a Los Angeles-based immigration attorney, told Uglobal Immigration Magazine that should Albania finalize its CBI, it could “distinguish itself from its Caribbean CBI competitors by accepting Iranians, Russians and other nationalities closed off from some other CBI programs.”

Malakouti said his clients haven’t asked for Albania by name yet, but that there would be interest.

“Assuming Albania does start a program, I doubt it would last for more than a few years if Albania continues to attempt accession to the EU, given Brussels’ strong and ever-growing antipathy to CBI in general,” he added. “I could see the program being a limited-time attempt to attract a bunch of investment into the country and then using closure of the program as a concession to the EU during accession negotiations.”

Will there be investor interest for Albania’s CBI?

Singapore-based financial planner and investment immigration advisor Philippe A. May, a former managing director at Arton Capital, was more skeptical.

“The program has not been launched yet and may never be launched. Seeing is believing,” he told Uglobal. “So far it’s all sizzles and no steaks. It depends on the pricing. If investment requirements are higher than in the Caribbean, demand will be limited. Montenegro, for example, is overpriced.”

Brian Greco, a CBI advisor based in Istanbul, Turkey, called Albania “a highly misunderstood Balkan country with an independent history, identity and great potential for this industry.”

Greco said Albania is an attractive place to have a passport and live in, with an “underrated” coast and clean rural environments.

“My hope is that the program is launched with the correct professional consultation and is not overly focused on UHNWIs — instead, it can attract the high-growth, middle-class markets and successfully abate the EU's ever-present distaste and baseless strikes against CBI,” he said.

Vito Magagnino, managing partner with Switzerland-based Mirabello Consultancy Ltd., said the CBI industry is experiencing increasing global demand in recent years, particularly from businessmen and investors who depend on their global travel and asset protections. He predicted a good CBI program coming for Albania.

"The chances are very high for this to happen, as the Republic of Albania is perfectly equipped in terms of visa-free travel access globally, including the Schengen Area, Southeast Asia and many more."

Magagnino predicted that as Montenegro ends its program, neighboring Albania may fill that demand.

"Albania should have the right pricing as well as a great setup for processing of the citizenship applications," he added. "It will be a great opportunity for Albania and its people to bring in direct foreign investment."

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Uglobal Staff
Uglobal Staff, along with its peer-reviewed magazines and conferences series, focuses on the global investment immigration market, offering the latest trends and analyses. is a media platform built to provide professionals involved with global programs with the most comprehensive and credible sources of information in digital, print and seminar mediums. The platform was created out of the need for marketplace transparency and to more efficiently connect individuals interested in learning about the global programs - either as a potential capital source or as a solution for their immigration needs. The Uglobal publication collaborates with a network of leading experts and an authoritative board of advisors to uphold a high standard in all content delivered and events hosted by the organization.

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