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Dual citizenship for a business person

Dual Citizenship for a Business Person: Advantages and Disadvantages

A second passport and citizenship of a foreign country can be a handy instrument for those who travel around the world often. Besides, it can facilitate tax planning, making international investments, and opening foreign bank accounts. Besides its weighty advantages, dual citizenship also brings some additional obligations that you have to take into account too.

What is dual citizenship in essence? What advantages and disadvantages does it have? How can you acquire citizenship of a foreign country? We answer these and other related questions below but before we go on, we would like to note that around a dozen countries offer citizenship-by-investment opportunities to foreign nationals. 

Dual citizenship for a business person

What is dual citizenship?

If you have dual citizenship, you are a citizen of two national states simultaneously. Some countries apply the so-called ‘right of soil’ and grant citizenship to everybody born on their territories. If a child is born to a foreigner in one of such countries, it automatically becomes a citizen of two countries at a time because it also inherits citizenship of its parents’ country.

Dual citizenship can also be acquired by marriage to a foreign person or by naturalization in a foreign country. Besides, some states grant citizenship to foreigners in exchange for investments in Government bonds or real property.

Having two (or more) passports at a time can be highly beneficial for a business person who wants to take his/ her enterprise to the international level. 

Advantages of dual citizenship for a business person

Dual citizenship brings several important advantages that include the ones listed below:

  • Simplified travel. Many people obtain a second (third, etc.) passport to get visa-free access to some desirable destinations. Consider the following example: an American citizen needs a visa to enter China. A citizen of Grenada does not need a visa to enter China. Grenada ‘sells’ its passports to foreign investors and thus any American citizen can get visa-free access to China by acquiring citizenship of Grenada by investment. 
  • Tax incentives. Some countries administering citizenship-by-investment programs also have low tax rates. Thus, potentially, you could reduce your tax burden by obtaining foreign citizenship. You have to realize, however, that you will have to become a fiscal resident of the foreign country if you are to qualify for reduced tax rates. This entails the need to live in the foreign country for the best part of the year.  
  • New banking and investment opportunities. You can use your second passport to open bank accounts in different countries. It is especially relevant for those whose home countries are not welcomed by bankers in some other countries. Many European banks, for instance, are reluctant to open bank accounts for American customers because of the FATCA requirements. Malta, an EU member state, ‘sells’ its citizenship to foreigners and an American who acquires citizenship of Malta by investment can use his/ her Maltese passport to open bank accounts in Europe. In addition to that, Government tenders and other investment opportunities are inaccessible to foreigners in most countries. Thus, you can seriously enlarge your list of investment options if you become a citizen of a foreign country. 
  • Access to new markets. By establishing one more platform for your global business operations, you can gain access to large (or huge) new markets. Acquiring citizenship of Grenada, for instance, will let you travel to China freely, as we have pointed out above. Now, the Chinese market is huge indeed, as more than a billion people live in the country. 
  • Wide opportunities for relocating your business to a foreign country. If the business climate worsens in your home country (taxes are raised, for example), you can re-domicile your business company to your second home country that might well offer serious advantages to businesses registered there.
  • An ‘escape hatch’ in case things go wrong in your home country. The world has ceased to be a peaceful place, as you know. Rebellions are currently taking place in a number of European countries, for instance. If the political and social situation in your home country gets out of hand, you will be happy to have a passport of a foreign country. You can relocate there with your family at any time and not as a refugee but as a rightful citizen.
  • Insurance against becoming a stateless person. Theoretically, you could be deprived of your home country’s citizenship on false accusations, which would render you a stateless person. In more practical terms, many Americans living and working in other countries are quite annoyed by the fact that they have to pay taxes to Uncle Sam in addition to the taxes that they are paying where they live. They don’t want to renounce their American citizenship, however, because nobody wants to become a stateless person. There is a solution: ‘buy’ citizenship of a foreign country and renounce your home country’s citizenship without turning into a stateless person.

Disadvantages of dual citizenship

Certain disadvantages are associated with acquiring second citizenship and you have to bear them in mind. These include the following ones:

  • Double obligations. When you have dual citizenship, you have to abide by the laws of two countries at a time. Besides, some laws, such as business regulations, for example, can be dissimilar in the two countries whose passports you hold. Thus, you may have to adapt your business practices in your second home country. Besides, other additional obligations may arise such as those related to military service, for instance.
  • Double taxation. You may be taxed twice if you have dual citizenship. As we have noted above, the USA taxes its citizens wherever they make an income – at home or abroad. If an American citizen makes money in a foreign country, he or she has to pay taxes both in the foreign country and in the USA. True, bilateral treaties on avoiding double taxation may help but tax planning is a very complicated issue for those who have dual citizenship. You will certainly benefit from applying for professional assistance in the matter.
  • Administrative tasks. You cannot become a citizen of a foreign country overnight (well, unless you are born with dual citizenship). Citizenship by naturalization takes years (3 to 30) to acquire and citizenship by investment involves many administrative issues to be solved.
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How can a business person acquire dual citizenship in a fast and simple manner and at an affordable price?

If you value your time, you have great news for you. You don’t have to live in a foreign country for years to become its citizen by naturalization. You can acquire second passports for yourself and members of your family in a fast and legal way if you apply for foreign citizenship by investment. What is more, you can return your investment after a few years if you act wisely.  

Investment immigration is a large business industry with an estimated annual turnover of 2 to 3 billion dollars. A growing number of countries offer ‘golden passports’ to wealthy foreigners and the industry turnover is likely to increase.

Countries offering citizenship-by-investment opportunities have to compete with each other. This makes them keep the prices in rein and offer various side benefits to foreign investors. This is good news for those seeking foreign citizenship. There are several options you can choose from depending on your primary objectives. Some countries offer strong passports, others charge low taxes, and still others offer attractive business opportunities.

Naturally, a stronger passport costs more than a weaker passport does. How much? Well, citizenship of Malta (and that’s the strongest passport that you can buy for money) will cost you 700,000 euros + investments into real property. The most affordable passports are found in the Caribbean. The following countries in the region ‘sell’ their passports for US$ 100,000 + the administrative costs:

  • Dominica;
  • St Lucia;
  • Antigua and Barbuda.

In all three cases, you don’t have to travel to the Caribbean to obtain a second passport as it can be done remotely. You don’t even have to ever visit Dominica and St Lucia to keep their passports but you have to visit Antigua. You have to spend at least five days in the country over the first five years of holding its passport. You might think of this requirement as a disadvantage but the authorities of Antigua and Barbuda are not putting it forward for no good reason. They want you to visit the country, fall in love with it, buy a house there, and relocate there for good. Quite a smart move! 

In addition to the Caribbean countries mentioned above (including Grenada), St Kitts and Nevis also ‘sells’ its passports for wealthy foreigners but it charges a higher price. On the other hand, a passport of this country will give you visa-free access to a larger number of destinations in comparison to passports of the other four Caribbean states. Anyway, the price of a foreign passport is not the only factor that you should consider if you want to acquire second citizenship. Among other things, the strictness of the due diligence procedures also matters, for instance.

Questions that a business person has to ask before applying for foreign citizenship  

You have to find the answers to several important questions that will determine if it is possible and desirable for you to acquire citizenship of a particular foreign country. The questions include the following ones:

  • Have you ever been denied a visa to a foreign country? If your immigration consultant does not ask you this question, change the consultant. No foreign country will grant citizenship to you if you have been denied a visa to one of the countries that the target country has visa-free agreements with. If you try to conceal this fact, it is going to be found out in the course of due diligence procedures. A visa denial to one of the Schengen zone countries or Great Britain is fatal.   
  • What family members can be added to the application for foreign citizenship? Whatever country you choose of those granting citizenship to foreign investors, you can acquire passports for members of your family. The lists of family members differ from one country to another, however. In St Lucia, a newborn child of an economic citizen does not automatically become a citizen of the country. Normally, the list of family members that can be included in the application contains the following relatives:
    • Underage children of the main applicant (adult children can also be included if they are financially dependent on the main applicant: if they are attending a university, for example);
    • Main applicant’s spouse;
    • Parents of the main applicant and his/ her spouse if they are financially dependent on the main applicant (not in all cases);
    • Unmarried siblings of the main applicant and his/ her spouse (not in all cases).
  • Does your home country allow dual citizenship? Your immigration agent should be able to answer this question. If it does not, it’s not fatal. First, many countries granting economic citizenship do not inform the authorities of the applicants’ home countries. Second, some countries that disallow dual citizenship on paper allow it in practice (China, for example).
  • Is your home county on the black list of the target country? Citizens of some countries are not eligible to apply for economic citizenship of other countries. For instance, St Kitts and Nevis does not accept applications for citizenship from Russians, Belarussians, North Koreans, Iranians, and Afghanis. Other countries do not set any limits and accept applications from everybody. In any case, each application is considered individually and the applicant has to show that the investment capital has been obtained in legal ways and that he or she has no criminal past. These conditions apply in all cases.
  • What are your travel plans? Each country granting citizenship to foreign investors offers a certain number of visa-free destinations to them. Analyze the list of visa-free destinations that a particular passport gives and see if the countries of interest to you are on the list. Malta, for example, is the only country with a citizenship by investment program whose passport gives visa-free access to the USA. Therefore, you should consider Malta if you have business interests in the USA. A Grenadian passport, in its turn, allows acquiring a visa on arrival to the UAE. This fact is of interest to those who have business in the Emirates. If you would like to live in the European Union, Malta should be your top priority. At the same time, passports of most countries granting citizenship to foreigners for money give visa-free access to the Schengen zone where you can stay for 90 days. We have to note, however, that passports of Turkey and Jordan do not provide visa-free access to Europe even though they do have citizenship by investment programs.  
  • What documents are required to apply for citizenship? Every country that you apply for citizenship to will require your personal documents such as passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, and so on. In addition, it will require a police clearance and a medical report. This is where some problems may potentially arise. You cannot obtain foreign citizenship if you have an infectious disease. You also cannot obtain it if you have a criminal past. Because police clearances are required from all countries where you have lived for more than 6 months over the last 10 years, it may appear problematic to collect them. If you are unable to obtain a police clearance from a certain country, you might be able to get away with that if you can clearly explain why exactly you are unable to do that. (For instance, the political regime in the country has changed and the new police authorities have no idea where the old records are.) There is no guarantee, however, that this sort of excuse is going to work. All countries want only law-abiding new citizens and they want proof.  
  • What financial information is going to be required? It is crucially important to have a legal source of the investment capital if you would like to obtain foreign citizenship by investment. Even if you are able to bring a clean police record but your sources of income look suspicious, your application for foreign citizenship may be rejected. The immigration authorities of the country will want to develop a clear understanding of how you got the money. You will have to supply the documents that can prove the legality of your sources of income.  
  • Will I be able to make a bank transfer to the target country? If you are a law-abiding person with a spotless reputation and your application for foreign citizenship is approved, you will have to make the donation or the investment in the required amount. This means that you will have to transfer the money to the target country. You had better use your personal or your corporate bank account to do that. It is not always necessary but it is recommended. If you use an intermediary offshore bank to make the transfer, things might become more intricate. The banking sector is rigorously regulated these days and offshore banks often suffer from lack of trust. We are not saying that it is impossible to use an offshore bank to make the money transfer but this might complicate the matter.   
  • Why do I need an immigration agent and how should I choose one? Whatever country you look at, you need to hire an immigration agent to file an application for citizenship: you cannot contact the national immigration authorities directly. When choosing an immigration agent, try to find out about their success stories. Some immigration agents are even listed on the official websites of Citizenship by Investment Units but this fact does not guarantee that they are well-qualified. Some agents do not have enough experience to handle issues that are out of the ordinary. If you are especially unlucky, you might even run into a bunch of frauds. Please seek our advice when choosing an immigration agent. 

Conclusion

Do you need second citizenship? It depends on the type of activities that you are involved in and the goals that you pursue. If you are looking to expand your business internationally, to invest in foreign countries and to open foreign bank accounts on all continents, a second passport may come in handy without doubt. We invite you to give this opportunity some serious consideration.

International Wealth experts will gladly support you at each stage of acquiring foreign citizenship. We will be happy to consult you on the opportunities to save on taxes, suggest some promising international investment projects, and tell you every little detail of obtaining a second (third, etc.) passport. Please contact us without any hesitation!  

What are the main disadvantages of dual citizenship for a business person?

Dual citizenship entails the need to abide by the laws and regulations of two countries. This concerns business regulation, payment of taxes, and even military service. Besides, acquiring foreign citizenship can take a lot of time or money.

What are the main advantages of dual citizenship for a business person?

Dual citizenship brings the following key advantages: freedom of travel around the globe; opportunities for tax burden reduction; new investment opportunities; access to more banks with the foreign passport; access to new markets; an opportunity to relocate your business company to a new jurisdiction thus extending your business operations and protecting your assets. In addition, second citizenship is an insurance against sudden changes for the worse in your home country’s political, economic, or social situation. Finally, you can renounce your home country’s citizenship without becoming a stateless person if you have a second passport.

How can a business person acquire foreign citizenship in a fast and simple manner?

A business person can acquire foreign citizenship by naturalization, by marriage, or even by providing military services to a foreign country. However, this takes a long time, may lead to prison (if the marriage is fictitious) or may even result in death if you join the army. This fastest and the safest way of acquiring foreign citizenship is by investment. Depending on the country, the process takes between 6 weeks and 12 months. The minimum you can pay for second citizenship is US$ 100,000 + immigration agent’s fees and administrative fees (add 10% to 20% to the sum).

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