You automatically acquire a citizenship at birth because of where you are born or because of the citizenship of your parents. You can acquire a second citizenship in another country by naturalization after years of residence or in some countries quickly under an economic citizenship program. Obtaining a second citizenship can give many benefits.
Benefits of a Second Citizenship
The benefits of obtaining citizenship in another country include having two passports, and making travel easier to countries which may restrict entrance to citizens of your home country. A second passport also provides anonymous travel which your home country will not be able to track. For instance, a U.S. citizen can use a second passport from a country having friendly relations with Cuba to travel there without restrictions.
Another benefit of second citizenship is the ability to travel to countries that are not friendly with your home country. Many Americans have met with hostility from other governments and even tourists who do not agree with the foreign policies of the U.S. government. Using a second passport exclusively from a country with no enemies offers greater safety and security while traveling.
Another benefit for having a second citizenship is the ability to reduce income taxes. A business can be started in the second country whose income will be levied lower or no taxes at all.
The ability to move to another country during times of economic crisis like 2008 in the U.S. and other countries is another benefit. Relocating to a foreign country requires having to hire an immigration law firm to apply for residency and work permits which can be expensive and cost a lot of time. Already being a citizen of another country will make the relocation much easier and less costly.
Second Citizenship via Economic Investment
A “second citizenship program” is a simplified method for becoming a citizen promoted by a country seeking new citizens who are generally wealthy. Most of these programs require at least $100,000 USD and up to $10 Million USD investments in the country’s economy. Such investments can be in purchasing real estate or providing funds for government trusts or making commercial investments. This brings in large amounts of money into a struggling economy along with wealthy families either relocating to their new country or visiting the country and spending money like tourists.
A second citizenship program is not indefinite. They are generally available for a few years until the country can improve its economic condition. Some countries use these programs to increase their immigration quotas for wealthy families to relocate. They are also used to bring in foreign investments quickly to help a struggling economy. Once the country becomes economically healthy the program is terminated.
Economic citizenship is an immigration program offered by several countries based on the applicant’s wealth and making a large bank deposit, investment or contribution. Economic citizenship is a form of naturalization offered by countries seeking to improve their economy. By offering immigration visas leading to permanent residency and full citizenship, the country is trying to attract wealthy foreigners and/or foreigners who are retired and living on a set pension. Increasing the wealth of its citizens will improve the country’s economic conditions as they will spend more money which helps the economy. Foreigners relocating to a new country must hire an immigration lawyer, use real estate agents and accountants, and open local bank accounts. In addition, the immigrant must purchase or lease an apartment or a house for his or her family to live in. The immigrant’s children will attend schools or universities and pay tuition and purchase books and supplies and uniforms if required. The new immigrant will probably purchase a car for him or herself and maybe a second car for the spouse. Furniture will be purchased for their home along with utilities, internet and phone services which helps the country’s economy.
Economic citizenship programs are only available in a handful of countries, where it is possible to obtain a passport in various ways like charity donation, real estate, business investment, etc. Usually such passport can be obtained within few months to a year. The family members of the investor are also eligible for citizenship and passports.
Economic citizenship can be granted in several ways. One way is for a country to promote immigration programs leading to permanent residency and citizenship for investors who will invest a minimum amount in real estate, commercial activities, or a government fund. Most of these types of citizenship immigration programs are geared towards attracting millionaires. The more millionaires who migrate to a country experiencing economic problems with become a boost for the country’s economy. The projects that these foreign millionaires invest in will also help a slumping economy. Millionaires also tend to spend more money on homes, cars, boats, jewelry, clothing, restaurants, and entertainment which also helps the local economy.
Another form of economic citizenship is an investors program for starting a new business in the country. Many countries require a minimum hiring of 5 to 10 local employees to work for the new company or business which also helps the local economy by increasing the workforce. The investor and his or her family will obtain permanent residency leading to full citizenship by maintaining the new company or business for a minimum number of years.
Economic citizenship programs are gaining more popularity these days with the business passport investors around the world and more and more countries are openly coming forward with proposals of citizenship by investment programs to attract business investors worldwide to invest in their country. In return of the contribution made, the investor is entitled to a second citizenship and passport in the country, where he invests by legal means, officially approved by the Government authorities.
Finally, Economic Citizenship made available to people who are retired or living on an established pension paying more than the average citizen earns will also help the local economy. The minimum amount for the annual pension payments is set above the country’s cost of living standards to help improve the economy.
Countries Promote Different Types of Second Citizenship Programs
Panama, for instance, has what is known as the Economically Solvent Program designed for wealthier foreigners and their families to obtain permanent residency. The applicant must either invest at least $300,000 USD by purchasing real estate or make a 3 year time deposit of $300,000 USD in a bank in Panama; or the applicant can combine these 2 options. A combination could be purchasing a $200,000 condo and then depositing $100,000 USD in a Panama bank CD (Certificate of Deposit) for 3 years to achieve the minimum $300,000 USD. A mortgage does not count as the real estate must have an equity of at least $300,000 USD or an equity when combined with the Panama bank CD is at least $300,000 USD. An additional $2,000 USD must be invested or deposited for every dependent.
Another immigration residency program in Panama is also based on the economic situation of the foreign applicant. This is known as the Retired Person Visa or Pensioners Visa. The applicant must be getting at least $1,000 USD per month for the rest of his or her life from either a government, military, or corporate pension plan. He or she can also qualify by receiving the same minimum monthly amount for life from either a Trust, an annuity, or an insurance policy. If the applicant purchases real property for at least $100,000 USD then the minimum monthly amount is reduced to $750 USD. A married couple can combine their pensions or retirement funds to meet the $1,000 monthly minimum. The monthly amount is increased by $250 USD for each dependent. A unique feature of this immigration visa program is that the minimum age to qualify is only 18 years. Most countries offering similar Pensioners or Retirees Visas have a minimum age of 55 or even 60 to qualify.
Panama has another unique second passport program knows as the Reforestation Investment Program. Reforestation is the planting of new trees to replace trees when cut down for lumber. This is known as a “Green Investment” as it prevents the harvesting of trees leading to diminished tree populations. The minimum investment is only $80,000 USD and must be made into a Panama government certified reforestation program. The investor must purchase a minimum of 5 hectares of forest land within the reforestation plantation. Many certified reforestation programs are able to sell the 5 hectares for $80,000 USD. An additional investment of $2,000 USD must be made for each dependent to be included with the immigration visa. There are several certified reforestation programs in Panama where most of them are owned by European companies. Teak reforestation is the most popular because it is a valuable wood sought around the world for usage ranging from outdoor decks, furniture, sail boats and luxury boats. That is because teak is resistant to bug infestation, is water resistant and durable making it perfect for outdoor and vessel construction. Panama citizenship is acquired after five years of permanent residency which is granted two years after making the investment. This is a seven year citizenship program.
The following are some of the countries currently offering a second citizenship program:
Antigua & Barbuda Islands offer citizenship in 5 years for investing $200,000 USD.
Austria has a program offering citizenship for a 10 Million Euro investment in public projects or private projects which benefit the public.
Belgium offers a citizenship program in 5 years for a 400,000 Euro investment.
Bulgaria grants citizenship to those who invest over 1m Eur in the country.
Cyprus has a program for obtaining instant citizenship by buying a real estate and depositing a sum of money in a local bank as a 3 years term deposit; the minimum budget needed is 5m Eur, but financing is available.
Dominica has a program offering fast citizenship with the investment depending on how large a family is. It starts with a $100,000 USD investment for a single applicant up to $200,000 USD investment for a family of four (children under 18 years of age).
Portugal has a program offering citizenship after 6 years of residence, for making a min. 500,000 Euro real estate investment.
St. Kitts & Nevis has a program offering citizenship within 4 to 6 months for making a $250,000 USD investment into a government owned foundation.
The government of Malta is offering an economic investment program granting citizenship for a minimum investment of 1,300,000 Euros.
The benefits of the Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Portugal and Malta programs are that they are European Union (EU) countries. That means a citizen from one of these countries can enjoy the privileges of any EU citizen which includes the freedom to travel to any of the other 27 EU nations, reside there, and to work there without having to apply for a work permit.
We can assist with obtaining a second citizenship or economic citizenship in a number of countries, including European ones. Contact us to see which countries offer a second citizenship program best suited for your means.