How Can I Obtain 2nd Citizenship Through Investment?
When a person obtains a second citizenship, that person takes on the nationality of a second country (i.e. not the country of the person’s birth), along with all of the rights and responsibilities accorded thereto. These rights can be very beneficial and may include the right to live, work, study, and travel without restriction, not only in the second citizenship country but also in all other nations with which that country has travel treaties. For example, citizens of the United States are eligible for visa free travel to more than thirty countries including Australia, Ireland, Italy, Singapore, Spain, Belgium, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and others.
What legally results from obtaining a second citizenship is that (in many cases) the person now has dual citizenship. Whether or not the person can legally claim dual citizenship is dependent upon if the person’s second country requires the person to renounce their first citizenship before taking on the second.
When a person renounces citizenship, the person gives up that country’s allegiance, its passport, etc. In general, the following countries do not recognize dual citizenship: Algeria, Andorra, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bhutan, Bolivia, Botswana, Brunei, Burundi, Cameroon, Chile, China, Congo, Cuba, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Guinea, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kiribati, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Libya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Monaco, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, New Guinea, Nicaragua, Niger, North Korea, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Palou, Papua, Principe Island, Qatar, Rwanda, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, South Korea, Sudan, Swaziland, Sweden, Tonga, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, and Zimbabwe.
On the other hand, there are of course several countries that do recognize dual citizenship. In these nations, new citizens are not required to renounce their previous citizenship; however, the new citizens who retain both nationalities may subject themselves to double the responsibilities, such as registering for national service in two countries, paying taxes in two countries, maintaining residences in two countries, etc. The following countries recognize dual citizenship: Albania, Antigua, Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Canada, Carpe Verde, Central African Republic, Colombia, Cote d Ivoire, Croatia, Cyprus, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, France, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iran, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Latvia, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Macao, Maldives, Mexico, Morocco, Namibia, Nevis, New Zealand, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, St. Christopher, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Slovenia, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Syria, Taiwan, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Tuvalu, and the United Kingdom.
Methods for Obtaining Second Citizenship
There are multiple ways that a foreign national can obtain a second citizenship. (It is important to note that many countries require foreign nationals to first become permanent residents in the country for a specific amount of years before the nationals are eligible to apply for citizenship). For example, a foreign national may marry a citizen of a different country and become eligible for citizenship as a foreign spouse. Alternatively, a foreign worker may be offered a permanent job position from a company located in a different country and could therefore become eligible for citizenship as a foreign employee.
If neither of these options are available, a foreign national may also take advantage of one of the many citizenship by investment programs that are offered by different countries around the world.
While every country’s investment-based citizenship program has its own specific parameters, in general the foreign national will need to meet the following requirements:
1. Required Investment: The foreign national must invest (or pledge to invest) the minimum amount or more into the country’s economy. This amount varies from as little as $100,000USD (for Dominica’s program) or as much as $1,000,000USD (for one of the United States’ programs). Additionally, the investment typically has to be made into a certain government approved project for industry. For example, many countries require the investment to be made into a real estate development project, whereas others let the foreign investor decide where the investment will be directed.
2. Proof that the Investment Funds are Lawful: Many countries require that the foreign investor provide copious and convincing proof to the government’s immigration authorities to establish that the investor’s funds originated from a lawful source such as the investor’s own employment, savings, sale of real property, mortgage, etc.
3. Proof that the Investor Has Business or Entrepreneurial Experience: Several nations require that the foreign national play an active role in managing the investment and contributing to the country’s economy. These nations typically require that the investor have a business background or education, along with a minimum number of years as a company executive or entrepreneur.
Benefits of Second Citizenship by Investment
Not only are there many benefits to holding two citizenships in general, but there are several reasons why foreign nationals choose citizenship by investment programs in particular.
For instance, all investment-based citizenship programs allow the foreign national to bring a spouse and children to the country as well, as the investor’s family dependents. Additionally, many nations offer significant tax breaks to foreign investors, including but not limited to exemption from income tax, property tax, gift tax, and inheritance tax.
Moreover, a small number of countries allow their foreign investors to completely bypass the requirement to become a permanent resident before applying for citizenship, which means that the investor and family would automatically be eligible for citizenship as soon as the investment application is approved. Depending on the nation’s immigration authorities and their processing times for such applications, that means the investor and family could acquire their second citizenships in less than a year.
Disadvantages of Second Citizenship by Investment
Although investment-based programs offer significant benefits, there are potential disadvantages that may affect the foreign national’s decision to choose one country’s program over that of another. For example, some investment programs requires the foreign national to demonstrate that the investment created and maintained new employment positions for the country’s citizens – and if the investment fails to do so, the foreign national cannot become a citizen and the national loses the investment funds.
Since there are many options to gain a second citizenship through investment, and each program has its own particular benefits and disadvantages, interested investors are encouraged to speak with a knowledgeable attorney who can explain and advise on these numerous options.