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Citizenship By Investment: Getting a Second Citizenship

Up until the turn of the 21st century, there was no such thing as a passport. Though there are records dated back to Roman times where they used letters guaranteeing safe passage carried by persons who were traveling through distant lands.

It was only until after World War I where passports were required when traveling to prove your identity. Itwas first made into law through the British Citizenship and Aliens Act of 1914 and then a few years later in the League of Nations where it was instituted into the global framework amongst nations where carrying a passport was required. 

What is Citizenship?

Citizenship is the relationship between a specific individual and a nation-state whereby the state grants the resident particular rights, such as the right to vote, work and own property, and in return the resident accepts the authority of the state government and the supporting laws and custom of the state. 

How to get a Citizenship?

The standard ways of acquiring citizenship is through birth, naturalization or marriage. While birth and marriage can be a harder thing to plan for naturalization is the route most citizenship planning is done through,  which an individual can acquire citizenship living in a country for x number of years.

The number of years required is anywhere from 2-5 years for many Latin Countries and upwards of 5-10 years for European countries. Requirements vary between countries drastically, so too are language and other civil and social requirements that many require on some level. For instance, in order to be granted citizenship in Germany, you must speak proficient German.

What are Citizenship by Investment Programs?

Citizenship by investment is the process of getting a second citizenship and passport through a donation or investment through real estate.

Citizenship by investment programs are conducted all over the world whereby the government uses the donations to invest in social institutions and the development of the country's infrastructure. These programs encourage foreign capital and businesses which have greatly assisted these countries, many of which are ex-colonies, in development especially in areas of the country hard hit by natural disasters or social degradation.

What Countries have Citizenship by Investment Programs?

Many countries around the world provide citizenship by investment programs. The number of these programs are continuously increasing as a growing number of countries understand the financial advantages of opening their borders to highly skilled and wealthy individuals as most investors come with business or entrepreneurial background which has helped many Caribbean countries with the brain drain they currently are facing.

St. Kitts & Nevis implemented the first citizenship by investment program in 1984. As a result other nations quickly followed suit as a result of the success of the program.

In the last two decades, Nevis has generated over 50 million in fees alone, not to mention all the benefits that have comes through local business development investments as a result. 

Why You Need a Second Citizenship

There are numerous reasons why people invest in a second citizenship, whether its diversification or personal safety reasons or whether its to increase their global movement capability.

Applications can be approved in as little as 3-6 months with programs starting at 100,000 USD that offer citizenship for life, a legitimate passport, and a new opportunity. Economic citizenship opens up a world of possibilities to high net worth investors looking to diversify their global lifestyle portfolio.

10 Reasons Why You Need A Second Passport

1. Financial Opportunity

Individuals participating in citizenship by investment programs are allowed to conduct business in the host nation which opens of financial and business opportunities in the country and in the region.

It also opens up the door to overseas financial services especially for Americans, who are restricted by being involved in many offshore funds. offshore banks and financial institutions these days regularly turn down Americans as a result of onerous FATCA regulations. Having second passport sidesteps all the extra regulations.

2. Create Distance From Foreign Policy Decisions

Separating yourself from the government or a nation-state may be important when traveling abroad. For instance, if you are American traveling in parts of the Middle East, or if you have an Israeli passport but have business interests in parts of the Middle East being able to travel under the radar is extremely important.

It can be freeing to not be associated with the actions of your government and getting a second passport frees you from those negative associations that might otherwise follow you around.

3. Visa-Free Travel

Many passports are quite limiting in their visa-free mobility, requiring residents to obtain visas whenever they require to take a trip abroad.

A second passport can enable people from these nations to greatly enhance their international mobility. If you hold a passport from Iraq or Pakistan for instance, the passport permits visa-free entry into just 27 and 40 nations, whereas the passport of Cyprus or Malta for example, permits visa-free entry to 164 and 172 nations. 

4. Escape Control of Movement

If you live in a fragile democracy or authoritarian state, or even if you are engaged in an occupation that makes you targetted by the government (ie journalist, politician, rights advocate) it is possible that you may be prevented from leaving the country. Unlawful detention or restricting your freedom of movement especially if you are flagged or on some watch list is something that is increasingly becoming common as many countries become increasingly authoritarian.

5. Individual Autonomy

A second passport frees you from the confines of a single nation-state. You are no longer beholden to a single actor.

By having the right to live elsewhere you are effectively severing the ties that otherwise would tie you down to a single state and its government. There is immense freedom in being free from a single governmental authority, especially in corrupt and unlawful regimes.

6. Security

A second passport from a stable, peaceful country can be life-saving especially if there is political, economic or civil disturbances in your home country. This type of insurance is invaluable for those living in fragile states.

Security also extends to creating a plan B for safeguarding you and your family in case the country where you currently reside becomes unliveable.

7. Renunciation of Citizenship

For those of you who are looking to sever the connection with your home country permanently then doing so will require another place where you can call home. This might seem radical, yet is becoming more prevalent the last decade especially amongst Americans who are tired of paying taxes on worldwide income.

8. Tax Management 

Dual citizenship may prove beneficial for tax optimization purposes. For instance, some countries only tax income that is made within the country, thereby making all worldwide income, or income generated outside the boundaries of the country tax-free. This allows investors the opportunity to manage their wealth more effectively as investments and funds can be effectively established and managed in low tax domains.

9. Pass Down Through Generations

Most citizenship by investment programs are available to the entire family. This enables investors to provide a better future for their partner, their children as well as for all future generations to come. It is likely to be one of the greatest gifts you can give to your future generations as it allows for a whole new opportunity that otherwise may not be available.

10. Social Benefits

A second passport gives you access to both in-state education as well as healthcare and access to social benefits. If you live in a country that has second rate facilities, this can particularly be of interest. 

Second citizenships, depending upon where the program is, most often have access to world-class healthcare, education and lifestyle standards that leave you well take cared for.

Citizenship By Investment Requirements

There are no one standard requirements, as each country has its own set of requirements however, generally speaking, there are some requirements that are common to all programs:

  • Proof of identity (passport, proof of address)
  • Criminal record history
  • Proof of funds
  • Due diligence forms
  • Buy one of the government-approved options, such as property, government bonds or a national economic fund

The only downside of a second passport is that it is not that cheap. The least expensive program hovers around 100,000 USD. However, this does not make a second passport any less crucial.

If the price tag of a second passport makes this not an option there are other ways to get a second passport, whether its through:

  • A short term residency (available for most countries) leading to long term/permanent residency (if you satisfy requirements) which then allows you to apply for a second passport after several years (2-10 years); or
  • A permanent residency (usually through a small investment proof of funds in a local bank account), whereby citizenship and a passport can be had in 3-5 years.

What is the Cheapest way to get a Passport: Residency Alternatives 

The cheapest way to get a second passport is through the Panama Friendly Nations Visa. An initial 5000 USD deposit into a local Panamanian bank will get you a permanent residency which is valid for 5 years. After that it is possible to apply for a citizenship and a second passport if you either start a company or invest 50,000 USD in real estate.

There are other special programs, for instance, if you are a citizen of a country that was once a former Spanish colony, you are granted the possibility of getting a Spanish passport if you move to Spain and live there for two years. This will cost you no more than living expenses, and small handling fees. However, you must start or own a local Spanish business.

Other Latin American Countries have residency programs that lead to full citizenship. Places like Brazil Argentina and Paraguay all have very attractive programs. Paraguay only requires a small deposit in the bank and after living in the country for more than 180 days a year for three years you can apply for a second passport.

Whatever your life situation having a second passport will open up many opportunities. There are many ways to get a second passport. How are you going to get your second citizenship?

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