Recently, the Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Nasheed proposed a bill to grant residency visas to foreigners married to Maldivian nationals and any foreigner who has invested MVR 100,000 on a business with the approval of the relevant authorities. Further, the bill states that any foreigner who has rented a property in the Maldives for over ten years will also be eligible to apply for residency visa. This resulted in great concern from the public, as some feared the amendment would impose a threat in the country’s sovereignty. However, is this a recent issue or did it commence years ago?
In 2015, during President Abdulla Yameen’s government, a Corporate Resident Maldives Scheme was introduced to provide foreign investors in the Maldives with privileged and fast-track services. The former president had said that the government was seeking “to attract net worth high-value investments.”
Former President Yameen stated that the corporate resident visa holders will belong to “a privileged, elitist club.” Cardholders will have permanent residency and will not have to wait in queues at immigration. “This is the only way we believe third world countries, small countries like the Maldives, can prosper and transform our economy.”
While the Corporate Resident Visa (CR Visa) issued under the Corporate Resident Maldives scheme, will provide superior services to investors at the point of entry into the country, the Corporate Resident Card will guarantee streamlined and hassle-free services, during their stay in the Maldives and in conducting business operations. In order to apply for the Corporate Resident Maldives scheme, investors are required to:
- Have USD 50 million or more invested in the Maldives
- Maintain a deposit of USD 1 million at a Maldivian bank for a period of not less than 2 (two) years or who has invested in a financial security
- Invest at least USD 1 million in real estate, approved by government authorities.
Speaking at the parliament committee on national security and foreign relations, Economic Minister Fayyaz Ismail revealed that 27 individuals who meet the criteria have been issued a corporate residence visa by the Economic Ministry. Although the Minister said that there is no point in issuing a residency visa to those who rent properties in the country, changes need to be brought to the required investment amount in the criteria for eligibility.