Egypt: Government expands offer to buy citizenship to attract dollars

A decree most recently issued by the Egyptian government allowing sale of Egyptian citizenship to foreigners in exchange for financial deposits has sparked controversy on social media.

To address a chronic shortage of foreign exchange that’s contributing to an economic crisis, the Egyptian government has expanded the number of ways to acquire citizenship, including by paying in installments.

Egypt’s Official Gazette has published PM Decree No. 876 of 2023 amending some provisions of PM Decree No. 3099 of 2019 regarding regulating cases of granting Egyptian citizenship to foreigners.

In the case of buying real estate owned by the state or other public legal persons, the decision provides for a reduction in the required amount from $500,000 to $300,000.

The decree also allows this amount to be paid in installments within a year, with the buyer being granted a residence document for tourism during that period, and then granting him citizenship after paying the full amount.

The regulations, outlined in the Official Gazette Wednesday, allows citizenship to be bought in several new ways, on condition funds are transferred in hard currency from abroad, or from inside Egypt, provided that it should have entered the country through one of the customs outlets and has been registered.

They include buying state-owned property for at least $300,000, or participating in a venture with a $350,000 investment plus depositing $100,000 in the state treasury.

Another option is a $500,000 deposit that would be refunded, without interest, in three years and payable in Egyptian pounds at the exchange rate of the time.

The move is an extension of an initial version of the regulations.

Authorities have launched a number of initiatives aimed at luring investment, including offering stakes in 32 state-run firms, and a car-import plan for Egyptian expatriates.

The Egyptian Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper tweeted saying: “The government allows citizenship in return for buying a property or depositing $250,000.”

One of the new options would award, under certain conditions, citizenship to those paying in installments over one year.

Only after the full amount is paid would approval be granted, according to the decree.

Commenting on the new citizenship acquiring measures, Elbash Seyasi, a Twitter user, tweeted saying: “Selling the Egyptian citizenship for dollars to address bankruptcy threats will not help, and no one will apply to obtain the useless citizenship; but If more accessible investment laws were enacted, it would be better, rather than innovating random methods of money collection.”

The rules come as the North African nation strives to resolve a dollar crunch fueled in part by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which sparked an exit in foreign capital.