Citizenship for Investors?

In a fairly recent update to a Government website, there is the following information:

NATURALIZATION FOR INVESTORS

Under section 9(3) of the Mauritius Citizenship Act an investor may be naturalized as a citizen of Mauritius if:

(i) he has invested a sum of not less than 500,000 US dollars in Mauritius;and

(ii) he has resided in Mauritius for a continuous period of not less than 2 years preceding the date of his application

Application under section 9(3) of the Mauritius Citizenship Act shall be submitted to the Secretary for Home Affairs in the form set out at Appendix V. The application shall be subscribed in the presence of a Judge or the Master and Registrar of the Supreme Court or a District Magistrate.

An applicant for Naturalization under section 9(3) of the Mauritius Citizenship Act shall in addition place an advertisement in two daily newspapers in the form set out at the bottom of page 4 of the application form referred to above.

The following documents shall be submitted in original and two photocopies along with the application and the renunciation forms:

(a) birth and marriage certificates of applicant;

(b) first five pages of applicant’s passport;

(c) residence permit of applicant;

(d) certificate of investment in Mauritius;

(e) one issue of two daily newspapers containing the advertisement      referred to at section above; and
(f) Morality Certificate

Now don’t get too excited here.  Citizenship by naturalisation is granted on a discretionary basis by the Prime Minister’s Office.  The above information simply lays the ground rules for applications that will be considered.  The important part is that “an investor MAY be naturalized as a citizen…”

This introduction replaces the old permanent residence that could be acquired by investing $500 000 in specified investments in Mauritius.

At a recent meeting with South Africans, the boss of the Board of Investment, Ken Poonoosamy told those there that the BOI would assist in compiling the report to the Prime Minister’s Office that shows how the investor has contributed to the Mauritian Economy.

What is so good about Citizenship?  The main benefits are that a citizen may vote and participate in all aspects of life in Mauritius.  A citizen has a perpetual right to residence, the spouse and children may also be able to acquire citizenship in time, the spouse may work and of course there are no restrictions on property ownership.

One bit that people sometimes do not take into account is that a non-citizen child of a citizen must get work and residence permits on attaining the age of 18 if they are not a student in Mauritius.  I know, because I had to do this for my eldest daughter.  She now lives in Australia.

QUESTION:

I was asked the following question by Dave Weskus after posting this, and decided it was important enough to include in the post rather than add to the comments:

“Please can you clarify what the clause means by ‘residing in Mauritius for a continuous period of not less than two years preceding the date of application’.

Does this mean that the applicant must remain in Mauritius for a continuous period of two years without leaving the country? Or does it mean his primary place of residence must be in Mauritius for two consecutive years, thus allowing for  travel abroad for business or personal reasons during the two years?”

ANSWER (sort of):

Ken Poonoosamy was asked a similar question in his session with South Africans, discussed in another post.  His reply was that the possession of Tax Residency Certificates (TRC) issued by the Mauritius Revenue Authority for the years under question would suffice.  Bear in mind that these require one to be present in Mauritius for more than 182 days per calendar year.  So if you arrive in August one year, you can apply after July the following year for a TRC or later if you have been away on holidays or business trips.

So does continuous mean non stop or does it allow for permissible periods of absence?  I think it allows for times of absence, and so does the Head of the BOI.  But does 183 days one year plus 183 days the next add up to “two continuous years”?  Or does one have to be physically present in the country for 365 x 2 days?  Bureaucrats have a way of interpreting the law the way they see it, which is usually not the way we see it.

What the PM’s Office definitely do not want is someone who rents a house here for two years and visits occasionally, trying to give the impression that they are continuous residents.

So I really don’t know.  But if any applicant is rejected for insufficient time after providing two consecutive TRC’s then we will know for sure.  Sort of.

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