By Anayat Durrani
The Republic of Armenia is considering a draft decision that would grant citizenship by decree to foreign nationals who have provided exceptional service to the country’s economy, science, education, culture, health and athletic fields. If put into effect, foreign nationals will have nearly a dozen pathways to obtain Armenian citizenship.
“Citizenship by exception is granted in an expedited manner as the Prime Minister's office can directly present candidates to the President,” says Seda Soghomonyan, Vardanyan & Partners Law Firm in Armenia.
Foreign citizens will be required to provide at least $150,000 US dollars to a foundation created for operating in education or science sector; in the shares of a commercial organization for at least 10 years; acquire government bonds of at least $150,000 USD for at least 7 years, purchase real estate for at least $150,000 USD for a minimum of 10 years, with a cadastral cost approximated to the market cost of real estate, per the official state news agency.
“By law, Armenian citizenship can be granted to foreigners who have provided exceptional services to the country,” says Soghomonyan. “The law exempts these applicants from normally applicable naturalization requirements, such as residency in Armenia, knowledge of Armenian language and Constitution.”
Investment criteria for Armenia’s CBI program
Foreign citizens can invest at least $150,000 USD in any investment fund approved by the government for at least 10 years, found a high-tech and (or) IT company in Armenia with capitalization equal to $1 million USD or more, with a condition that the center of vital interests of the founder is in Armenia.
Foreign nationals can create a branch of a foreign IT company in Armenia with capitalization equal to $100 million dollars or more, which has 500 or more staffers in Armenia, establish a venture foundation in the amount of $80 million dollars or more, make a financial investment worth $100,000 USD or more in a high-tech company or a venture foundation.
Foreign citizens need to have 20 or more years of work experience in high-tech and (or) IT companies listed on the New York, Frankfurt or London stock exchanges, have a long-term (not less than 5 years) active cooperation in international structures in postal field, and make financial, material and technical investments in the field in the amount of at least $250,000 USD.
Gohar Avagyan, senior lawyer, ELL Partnership Law firm in Armenia says recent international events have contributed to changes in requirements for citizenship for foreign nationals.
“In particular, there is currently a large influx of foreigners. People are moving here to live, often moving their business as well, many of them also want to acquire a land in the Republic of Armenia with the right of ownership according to their business plans,” says Avagyan. “The establishment of standards set by the law in RA during the current period can be considered both a step towards the development of the country's economy and a step towards foreign investors.”
Citizenship requirements for foreign investors in Armenia
Before considering applying for citizenship in Armenia, investors should note that citizenship does come with military service, depending upon one’s age.
“After the citizenship is granted, the applicant will need to travel to Armenia to register with the military office—applicable only to males under 55—and to apply for a passport and a national ID card,” says Soghomonyan.
She says the country requires all male citizens aged 16 to 55 to register with the military office and males aged 18 to 26 may be subject to mandatory two-year military service.
“Therefore, if you fall within this age category you may want to postpone applying for citizenship until you reach the age of 27,” says Soghomonyan.
She says some of the benefits of Armenian citizenship is that the country allows dual citizenship and does not require a person to renounce their existing citizenship. An Armenian passport provides travel visa-free to dozens of countries, like Russia and other former Soviet countries, as well as China, and Iran. Citizens can own any type of property in Armenia, including agricultural land. Citizens get access to government-financed education, medical treatment and welfare benefits. Having Armenian citizenship does not affect a person’s tax liabilities since Armenia does not have citizenship-based taxation, Soghomonyan says.
“This is still a draft decision regarding the requirements and the evaluation criteria shall be enacted by the Cabinet of Ministers of Armenia by the end of January 2023,” says Soghomonyan.
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