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5 FAQ about Second Citizenship by Investment

Citizenship-by-investment is a billion-dollar industry even though only about a dozen countries ‘sell’ their passports to foreigners. People from all parts of the world are attracted by the opportunity to obtain second passports but ‘buying’ citizenship of a foreign country is a bit more complicated task than buying food at the local supermarket. We have been helping customers apply for second citizenship by investment for many years now and below we answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the matter.

Second Citizenship

Double, triple, or multiple citizenship can make you free from restrictions and obligations in the following areas:

  • Political borders;
  • Fiscal regulations;
  • Military service;
  • Regulations related opening foreign bank accounts;
  • Registering a foreign business company;
  • Investments outside your country of origin.

What is the easiest and the fastest way of acquiring citizenship of a foreign country? The answer is: investment. Put money into a second passport and you can achieve the goal in a fast manner. Most often, the fact will remain confidential (with the exception of economic citizenship of Dominica and Malta).  

You have to do your homework, however, because there are quite many citizenship-by-investment programs and each of them has its own pluses and minuses and its own specifics. You have to choose the program that can meet your expectations and stay within your budget.

In short, serious preparation is required if you would like to apply for foreign citizenship by investment. We hope that the answers to some FAQ on the topic will serve as an element of the preparation process.

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Question 1: Can I afford second citizenship by investment?

Thanks to the mass media, ‘golden passports’ have an image of luxury items that only the rich can afford. You have probably never even wondered if you can afford second citizenship because you are sure that you cannot. In fact, however, acquiring economic citizenship of a foreign country does not have to cost too much.  

It is true that some foreign passports cost a lot. But some others do not! Take a look at the Caribbean regions, for example. You can acquire citizenship of St Lucia or Dominica for US$ 100,000. This is the lowest price that you can find but a hundred thousand will sound affordable for many people.

Besides, the Caribbean citizenship-by-investment programs offer different financial routes to citizenship. All of them accept non-returnable donations from foreigners wishing to obtain second passports. However, all of them allow making returnable investments into real property. Keep the property in your possession for a few years and then sell it back. You will remain a citizen of the Caribbean country where the property is located and return your investment.

Some countries also allow investing into business ventures on their territories. If you are a business-minded person, you can launch a company in the Caribbean, earn profits, and simultaneously acquire second citizenship! Besides, you can find some exotic investment options in some places. Antigua and St Kitts, for example, are considering the opportunity to grant citizenship to those foreigners who finance movie making in the countries.

Other investment opportunities are available in the Caribbean and elsewhere too. Second citizenship is not a luxury item. At least theoretically, a second passport may cost you nothing: invest wisely and you will return your investments and maybe even make a profit.

We can also look at the matter at a different angle. When ‘buying’ a second passport, you gain access to new travel, banking, and tax optimization opportunities. Thus, your second passport can help you make some money not only by making direct investments.  

Are you an affluent person? Then you should probably consider applying for economic citizenship of Malta, an island country in the Mediterranean. Malta is an EU member so you will be able to live, work, or study in any EU country with a Maltese passport.

There are several citizenship-by-investment schemes and the price difference is not the only difference that they have. Depending on your budget and your central goals, you can choose a scheme that suits you perfectly well.

Question 2: How much time does it take to obtain a second passport?

This question may be highly important in some cases. The length of the process depends on the particular country. Normally, the procedure takes a few months (3 to 6) but there are exceptions. Acquiring citizenship of Malta by investment, for example, can take 3 years. You can reduce the time to 1 year but then you will have to double the investment amount.

Some people will start thinking of obtaining a second passport only when the situation in their home country changes in an unfavorable way. For example, the political regime changes making their life unbearable. Alternatively, they may lose visa-free access to a foreign country that they have to visit frequently for business purposes.

You should think ahead, because if you need a second passport urgently, we will have to disappoint you: this is impossible. You can obtain economic citizenship of Vanuatu in the South Pacific within 6 weeks but that’s as fast as it gets. Caribbean countries granting citizenship to foreign investors take at least 3 months (often more) to process the applications.

Question 3: How much time do I have to spend in the country of my second citizenship?

If you are ‘buying’ a second passport with the intention to relocate to the foreign country, the question is irrelevant to you. However, many people we have worked with apply for second passports in order to improve their travel and international banking opportunities: they do not plan to leave their home countries. For them, the question is important indeed. After all, the Caribbean Sea is a very remote region if you live in Europe or Asia.

The answer is as follows: you don’t have to spend any time in the country of your second citizenship in most cases. There is one exception, however. Antigua and Barbuda requires that economic citizens spend 5 days in the country within the first 5 years of holding passports of the country. Other Caribbean countries do not put forward such a requirement. If you apply for citizenship of St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Dominica, or Grenada, you won’t have to visit any of the countries even once!

Why would the Antiguan authorities be so ‘unwise’ and make their citizenship-by-investment program ‘less attractive’ in comparison to other programs? Of the five Caribbean countries administering such programs, only Antigua and Barbuda has a personal visit requirement while others don’t. We suspect that they want to entice foreigners to the country hoping that the new citizens will fall in love with that piece of paradise and want to go there often, buy property on the islands, and spend money there in other ways. Because Antigua and Barbuda is a piece of paradise indeed!

Thus, you can acquire foreign citizenship remotely without ever going to the host country in most instances. This applies to four Caribbean countries as well as Vanuatu. If you are applying for citizenship of Malta or Turkey, however, you will have to visit the country at least once.

Question 4: Is it legal to have dual citizenship?

This is one more frequently asked question. It is legal as long as the legislation of your home country allows dual citizenship. Even if it does not, nothing is lost for you.

Dual citizenship is prohibited in China, for example. At the same time, the Chinese have been actively ‘buying’ citizenship of Grenada and other Caribbean countries. We will tell you more: the citizenship-by-investment program of Vanuatu is divided into two subprograms: one for citizens of China and the other for everybody else.

How is that possible at all? The answer is going to be twofold. First, most (though not all) countries ‘selling’ their passports to foreigners keep the matter confidential. Thus, if a Chinese citizen acquires citizenship of Grenada, for instance, the Grenadian authorities are not going to inform the Chinese authorities about this fact. They are going to live up to their promise. If the Chinese citizen doesn’t inform his/ her home country’s authorities either, nobody is going to know that he/ she has dual citizenship.

Second, over a billion people live in China, as you know. The country is overpopulated and its authorities would not actually mind if some Chinese citizens relocated to another country. Thus, even though dual citizenship is officially illegal in China, the local authorities are looking through their fingers at the Chinese citizens ‘buying’ second citizenship.

As far as Malta is concerned, the local authorities do publish the names of all new citizens of the country in an official gazette. But! They periodically publish the names of all people who have become citizens of Malta since the last report was published. The list includes those who have been born, those who have acquired citizenship of Malta by marriage or naturalization, and those who have acquired it by investment. With some investigation, foreign investors can be found out, of course, but some level of anonymity is available in Malta anyway.  

If your home country’s authorities are deadly serious about prohibiting dual citizenship, you can acquire legal residence in a foreign country instead of its citizenship. No national Government prohibits establishing legal residence in a foreign state and the status can bring you some important advantages. If you become a legal and then a tax resident of a Caribbean country, for example, you may be able to reduce your fiscal burden significantly.

Question 5: Why can second citizenship be denied to a foreign investor?

This is an important question indeed, because you certainly want to avoid rejection of your application for citizenship. The matter is that you have to pay the due diligence fee before the due diligence procedures are started. If you fail a certain test and citizenship is denied to you, the fee is not refunded.

The two most important things to have to acquire second citizenship is the money and a clean police record. You will have to supply a police clearance in all cases. Some countries will want you to be ‘perfectly clean’ they will want you to have been involved in no legal suits at all during all your life. Other countries will want you to have had no problems with the law over the last 10 years or so.

However, there are some other nuances that you should be aware of when applying for foreign citizenship. For example, if you have served in the military in your home country, they are going to ask you a lot of questions in Malta when you apply for citizenship of the country.

Caribbean passports give visa-free access to a great number of countries. Now, if a visa to one of these countries has been denied to you, you won’t be granted citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda, for instance. This problem is solvable, however. You can apply for a visa to that country again and if you are able to obtain it, the restriction will be lifted.

Generally speaking, the due diligence requirements are tougher in Europe than they are in the Caribbean or elsewhere. (Please note that the only citizenship-by-investment program administered by a European country is the Maltese one at the moment but new such programs may well appear in the future.)

The strictness of the Maltese immigration authorities is not surprising. They have to abide by the EU regulations and these are tough indeed. On the other hand, acquiring citizenship of Malta is an extremely attractive opportunity from the viewpoint of visa-free destinations, education, healthcare, and business opportunities that the Maltese passport brings.

In short, you have to be legally legally clean, have nothing to conceal, and disclose all the information that the host country’s immigration authorities request if you want to obtain a second passport.  

Foreign citizenship by investment: is the prize worth the effort?

There are other questions related to the opportunity to acquire foreign citizenship by investment. The process is complex and it is extended in time. For years, Offshore Pro Group experts have been helping clients from different parts of the world obtain second passports. Please request our professional support if you would like to acquire citizenship of a foreign country by investment.

The list of countries administering citizenship-by-investment programs is not very long but it isn’t short either. The most important thing is that the programs are rather different. The timeframes of second citizenship acquisition differ, the prices differ, the personal visit requirements differ, and so on. However, the choice is wide enough and we would be happy to help you choose the citizenship-by-investment program that is the most appropriate one in your personal case.

You may be wondering if the prize is worth the effort: does it make good sense to apply for foreign citizenship by investment? The short answer is ‘yes, it does’. When you have two passports, you can choose which one to use when traveling to a particular country. In some cases, your original passport can be your choice but in some other cases, your second passport could come in handy. Now imagine that you have more than two passports: you will have even more freedom of travel!

You can also choose what passport to use when opening a foreign bank account. Some foreign countries will be friendlier to citizens of your country of origin while some other countries may turn out friendlier to the citizens of your second home country.

Besides, you will also be able to choose where to live since you can legally reside in more than one place if you have several passports. Do you have to live in a huge, dusty, and noisy city until the end of your life? Couldn’t you relocate to a small sunny island in the middle of the ocean and rejoice in the cool breeze? We would like to draw your attention to an important fact at this point. All the five Caribbean countries running citizenship-by-investment programs are members of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). This means that if you ‘buy’ a passport of one of these countries, you will be able to legally live and work in any CARICOM country, that is, in virtually any Caribbean country!

Finally, you should know that all citizenship-by-investment programs are very friendly to family applicants. The required investment amount is going to be higher if you are applying for foreign citizenship with your spouse but it is not going to be twice as high. The investment amount is going to be higher if you are applying for citizenship with your spouse and a couple of kids but it is not going to be four times as high. We believe that second citizenship could be a great present for your children.

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