By Anayat Durrani
North Macedonia is the latest country to invite international talent and investors to the nation through a new citizenship-by-investment program. A country of the south-central Balkans, it has a population of 2.1 million and is bordered by Greece to the south, Bulgaria to the east, Albania to the west and Kosovo and Serbia to the north.
Harvey Law Group, a Hong Kong-based multinational law firm specializing in corporate law and investment immigration, has been appointed as Master Compliance Agent for Asia for the North Macedonia Economic Citizenship Program.
“The priority for the North Macedonia government is to bring successful business people to the country,” said Jean-Francois Harvey, Global Managing Partner and founder of Harvey Law Group. “While the citizenship program itself is the most affordable in Europe, you need to look behind this and see how North Macedonia is attractive business and tax wise.”
Some of the highlights for investors is that the country has access to EU, CEFTA, Turkey, Ukraine, internationally regulated banks and policies, and no restrictions on foreign ownership of local properties and corporations.
“North Macedonia is generally interesting for investors for its low tax rate—at this time 10% flat—and relatively low labor costs for experienced workers,” says Kristijan Polenak, managing partner at Polenak Law Firm in North Macedonia.
The main goal for the program is to attract investors and entrepreneurs to invest in governed designated SEC-authorized funds which in turn invest in long-term infrastructure and strategic projects in the country. The authorized funds will invest in start-up companies, innovation and technology development, Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and environmental and recycling projects.
Some of the benefits include becoming a lifetime citizen of a European country, an expedited timeline of approximately four months including background check approval, no residency requirement or language or medical test, dual citizenship is accepted, access to the U.S. via the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa and visa-free access to 124 countries, including countries in the Schengen Area and Japan.
“This is a very new program but also very restricted in the number of applications that will be accepted. The quota of 1000 families is very strict and will permit the government to select only the best applicants,” said Harvey.
Program requirements include being over 18 years of age, applying through an authorized representative, making a qualifying investment of 200,000 euros, having a clean criminal record and not having entered or stayed illegally in North Macedonia. Government application fees are 20,000 euros for the main applicant, 20,000 euros for a spouse and 10,000 euros for each child under 18.
The small country of Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia officially changed its name to North Macedonia in Feb 2019 after resolving a dispute with Greece, and is a member of NATO. The World Bank’s 2020 rankings list North Macedonia in 17th place in the world for the ease of doing business. It is currently a candidate for accession into the European Union.
“The country is indeed one of the most scenic one in Europe and you do not only get a great base to do business but an amazing environment to live in,” says Harvey.
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