Second citizenship and a powerful, effective passport is the dream combination for every wealthy individual from a third world country craving respect and freedom. While it has never been easier to gain a new citizenship or acquire residency in a new country, before embarking on such an adventure, there are some factors a potential applicant should consider.
For those of us fortunate to be natives of Western Europe or North America, Australia, New Zealand, or Western-friendly nations like Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and Singapore, ownership of a passport that gets us into every country worth going to – without the need of a visa – is second nature, in fact, it’s no big deal.
However for ambitious, industrious business people who hail from many African, Asian or Middle Eastern countries, such freedom would be a very big deal indeed. These people are accustomed to two things when they travel, a) being judged on their citizenship – e.g., if they are Iranian they are a terrorist, if they are Somali they are a pirate, if they are Nigerian they are an online con artist, etc., and coping with a passport that more often than not requires the added assistance of a visa.
Unsurprisingly, every year, literally tens of thousands of high net worth individuals, mainly from countries like China, India, Pakistan, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Somalia, enter into government sponsored official programs to start the process of gaining second citizenship or residency to a new country. If you are one of the many intending to enter such a program, you are about to embark on an amazing, life changing adventure, but before doing so, there are five main factors you should consider.
Five Factors To Consider
It is essential that any potential applicant should think deeply about the journey they are about to begin, decide 100% if it is right for them, work out how their lives will improve upon completion of such a program, and then if they are 100% sure, begin the sometimes painstaking process of researching various programs until they find out which one is exactly right for them. Of course, this is where a second citizenship specialist like onlinetravelservices.com’s assistance can be invaluable. There are five major factors to consider during the research process, and these are:
Does the investor intend to;
- a) live in the country they are choosing for citizenship permanently or for lengthy periods, or
- b) do they intend purely to gain second citizenship as a means-to-an-an-end, i.e., for ownership of a more powerful passport that will aid them greatly in their business lives, but they intend to remain living in the country of their birth?
If it is the former, they must ensure on choosing their perfect location, and if they are taking along their spouse or even additional family members as part of the deal, their opinions must also be taken into consideration. Factors like climate, language, facilities (schools, hospitals), standard of living and government must be taken into consideration.
Some countries with residency programs – Spain for example – do not recognize dual citizenship. If you were to become a Spanish citizen, you would be entitled to all of the working benefits membership of the EU brings, plus ownership of the third most powerful passport in the world, but you would have to renounce the citizenship of your birth nation. Would you be prepared to do that?
Let’s be brutally honest here – second citizenship, even residency – doesn’t come cheap. Anyone considering entering such a program should be a least comfortably off, if not financially secure. There is no point event dreaming about an EU passport if you cannot afford to enter even the most basic of residency programs.
For example, if you are determined that Citizenship by Investment to an EU country is the only program worth considering, you will need to be able to cover the basic €1.2 million that the most reasonably priced program –that of Malta –will cost. If you intend to go the route of a Residency by Investment program to a country like Bulgaria, Hungary or Portugal, your initial outlay will be a fraction of that of a CBI program, but will still be around the €250,000-500,000 mark.
The good news is that unless an applicant is taking the route of citizenship via a charitable donation, they can expect to recoup their initial investment after five years on average, and in most cases actually make a profit on said investment, as well as gaining second citizenship and a new passport.
Depending on your available funds, gaining citizenship to an EU country can take a matter of months, or around six years.
If you are determined to live and work within the European Union, but you cannot afford the minimum €1.2 million outlay for the cheapest EU CBI program (or you begrudge paying that much), if you are prepared to wait, you can embark on a Residency by Investment program. Aside from Austria, Cyprus and Malta who have CBI programs, virtually every other EU country operates a form of residency by investment program.
On average these programs will involve five years of temporary residency, during which time you are pretty much free to spend the bare minimum of time in that country.
Upon completion of the specified period of temporary residency, you will then be able to apply for Permanent Residency, and then spend a year as a permanent resident in that country before applying for full citizenship.
When it comes to an applicant’s record with the police, the least problems they have had, the better for them. If those problems are more serious than driving offences, any citizenship or residency by investment program application could be dead in the water before it even begins. And a word of warning: Any individual thinking that a change of citizenship could be a way of escaping past misdemeanors should think again – all nations offering citizenship and residency programs carry out detailed and in depth background checks on all applicants.
Critics of CBI (including the US government) claim it can has the potential to be abused by criminals and terrorists, and as a result, countries today are borderline paranoid about granting citizenship or residency to individuals with even the slimmest of criminal records.
If a potential applicant has a historic conviction for theft, violence or a drug-related crime, they are highly unlikely to be accepted into any residency or CBI program, no matter how long ago the offence, and how much of an upstanding community member they have been since their conviction.
Some countries may be more forgiving than others over minor convictions. If you have a criminal conviction, for complete clarity on where you stand, contact
Many programs include family members, and often at no additional cost. Needless to say, depending on the size of an individual’s family, and how many of them they are looking at taking with them to their new destination, their input on location may also be important. For example, an investor may have their heart set on a brand new life in Canada and assume that their elderly parents will want to accompany them, when in fact, the last thing they want is to live in a country as cold as Canada. An investor may be excited about the possibility of living in a nation like Bulgaria or Hungary, while their partner may crave a more Western location like France, Spain or Portugal.
While the actual program may not feature any additional cost for extra family members, there will nevertheless be additional costs involved. An investor must consider how many family members they can bring with them during their initial period of residency or citizenship, especially if it will be up to the investor to provide for them financially.
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