Citizenship in one’s native country is a thing that most people take for granted. Not so for expatriates or those who wish to live and work in a foreign country, often permanently. These people are more aware of the benefits of citizenship and the difficulties of non-citizen residency. In these and other similar cases, it is worth considering how to get a second passport.
Non-citizen residency comes with all of the responsibilities of citizenship – such as paying taxes and obeying the laws – and yet offers fewer benefits in return. Non-citizens often face working limitations, less security, and restrictions to freedoms such as voting and purchasing property.
Citizenship comes with more than just a passport. It impacts significant factors, such as:
- -What countries one may travel to and in what activities he or she may participate
- -Eligibility for government programs and services
- -Availability of loan applications and types of accounts you can open
Because of the numerous cultural and financial benefits of holding multiple passports, more and more people are becoming interested in dual citizenship or multiple citizenships.
What is dual citizenship?
Dual or multiple citizenship is a legal status that allows you to have more than one citizenship. You can be a citizen of two or more countries at the same time, without giving up your original nationality when you become a dual citizen.
Dual citizens have all of the rights and responsibilities of any other citizen. They can vote, serve on juries and in the military, run for political office, and receive government benefits like social security.
There are some restrictions on dual citizens when it comes to certain rights—such as not being eligible to hold public office or vote in one’s second country of citizenship. However, these restrictions are not nearly as limiting as non-citizen residency. Overall, dual citizenship opens up many doors to financial freedom and prosperity.
What are the benefits of having a second passport?
Having multiple passports is a great way to build your business and expand your financial opportunities.
A second or third passport can also help you start a business in another country or make it easier to invest in foreign markets. It can open up access to opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable because of visa restrictions or other bureaucratic hurdles that may exist between two countries.
And of course, having multiple passports allows you to diversify your finances by investing in multiple countries instead of just one at a time. Here are some of the benefits that come with dual citizenship when it comes to business and financial investments:
- -Gaining access to global markets
- -International travel becomes more accessible, expanding networking opportunities
- -Ability to diversify your investments across multiple countries’ economies, giving your portfolio greater security
- -Potential to avoid paying taxes in certain countries by moving assets outside of their borders
Not all countries allow dual citizenship (Japan, for example, would rather you didn’t have a second passport but has no way of knowing), but the countries that do can offer significant benefits to multiple passport holders. Certain countries have even begun to offer additional routes to citizenship beyond the traditional avenues.
What are the different modes of acquiring a second passport?
Avenues to multiple citizenships can be limited or cumbersome. Traditionally, a second or third citizenship could only be acquired through birthright, marriage, naturalization, or a lengthy and expensive application process. Of course, each of these has its own benefits and drawbacks.
Citizenship by Descent: This is also called “jus sanguinis,” or “right of blood,” and may be the easiest path to holding multiple passports. If one parent was born in a country or holds citizenship there, his or her children are eligible for automatic citizenship, as well. However, not all countries allow their citizens dual citizenship, meaning that some children born of parents from different nationalities have to choose one or the other. It also doesn’t always apply if one parent holds dual citizenship with two different countries (which could mean they have conflicting allegiances).
Citizenship by Marriage: Some countries allow their citizens to obtain a second passport through marriage to someone from another country. This is also called “jus coniugii.” Of course, this is also dependent also on the country of origin of the potential spouse. Not all countries allow non-nationals to gain citizenship through marriage.
Citizenship by Naturalization: This is one of the most common routes to acquiring citizenship in another country. Eligibility for citizenship by naturalization requires meeting certain conditions, then undergoing an application process with the government of the country in which one is seeking citizenship. This process can be long and arduous, generally requiring a near-native level of speaking ability in the national language and proof of several years of residency.
Applying for Secondary Citizenship: Some countries require an expensive and time-consuming application process for gaining citizenship. This process can take years (sometimes more than 10) and often requires that the applicant lives in the country for a certain amount of time. It may also involve an application fee of hundreds or even thousands of dollars. This option is best suited for people who have already relocated to another country and want to obtain citizenship there so they can live there permanently.
Although any of these may be valuable avenues to acquiring multiple passports if available, most individuals don’t have the time or the means to access them. Fortunately, there is another path becoming available, called “citizenship by investment”.
What is citizenship by investment?
Citizenship by investment, sometimes called a “passport program”, is a way for individuals and their families to obtain citizenship in another country by contributing to the economy of that country. This can be done through business investments, real estate purchases, or philanthropic contributions.
In 2019, there were at least 22 countries offering citizenship by investment programs, including Austria, Malta, Portugal, and Spain. The most popular citizenship by investment programs are run by Malta and Cyprus. However, more and more countries are offering passport programs with varying benefits. It should also be noted that this a potentially murky territory to navigate, and should only be undertaken with the help of an experienced and qualified advisor. The OECD has compiled a list of known citizenship by investment programs that have experienced an uptick in scams and other fraudulent activity preying on those hoping to obtain a second passport by way of making a sizeable investment.
What are the benefits of citizenship by investment?
Citizenship by investment is a fast, safe, and secure way of obtaining a second citizenship. It offers you the right to live, work or study anywhere in the world with no restrictions on your freedom of movement.
Citizenship by investment programs are also beneficial for countries because they can help these countries attract investors and generate revenue.
This can lead to:
- -Increased economic growth
- -Increased employment opportunities for both citizens and non-citizens
- -National security benefits, such as visa-free travel and entry into restricted areas
Citizenship by investment programs are more popular than ever, and they’re not going away anytime soon. The number of countries offering these passport programs has nearly doubled in the past decade, with more than half of all countries worldwide currently offering one form or another.