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A person’s citizenship can dictate many aspects of their life, from where they are able to live, social security to global mobility, and in some cases, it can even have financial implications,
It goes without saying that some passports are stronger than others, and as such, can allow certain individuals considerable more freedom than others. We have touched upon this previously, so If you would like to know why high net worth individuals are investing in a second passport our blog is a place to look for more information.
Traditionally, the three easiest ways of getting dual citizenship have been through ancestry, naturalisation, or marriage. However, getting citizenship through these means can be impractical, time-consuming, or in the case of ancestry, impossible. Although these are not the only ways. It is for these reasons that citizenship by investment has become an increasingly lucrative industry, with more families deciding to obtain a second passport through making significant financial investments into the country.
With that being said, some of these passports are easier to obtain than others. When thinking about the ease of getting one of these coveted documents, it can be said that there are three main factors; the amount of time it takes, the flexibility and the requirements needed, as well as the amount of money it will cost. We will have a look at a number of countries that allow individuals and their families to get a second passport, and break down how easy it is to get it.
Vanuatu: The fastest route to citizenship
For individuals looking to get dual citizenship in the fastest and most efficient way possible, then Vanuatu is undoubtedly the ‘easiest’. The country’s citizenship by investment programme offers the fastest processing time out of all of the CBI programmes, with applicants able to gain citizenship within 4 months by making a one-time contribution of $130,000 into the country’s Development Support Programme. What is more, if the applicants want to expedite this process even further, then they can pay an additional fee of $10,000, and get citizenship within just 30 days. The application process is also a very straightforward one, with very few requirements other than having the necessary investment funds.
Withstanding, if you are looking to gain citizenship in a country where you are planning on settling down, then it is worth bearing in mind that Vanuatu is a very isolated country, whose infrastructure is not of the same standard as other countries that offer citizenship by investment. Further to this, there are not as many job opportunities, with the country’s primary industry being related to tourism and agriculture.
Turkey: The most flexible CBI programme
For individuals that are looking for greater flexibility when choosing a passport, then Turkey may be the best way to go. Not only does the programme offer a lot of flexibility in terms of investment options, with applicants having a greater choice in how they choose to invest into the country in return for a passport, but it is also one of the only CBI countries that grant its citizens the opportunity to apply for American residency through the E-2 programme. This is a much quicker and more cost-effective route than the main US immigration routes, such as the EB5 programme. By being a resident of the U.S. whilst holding a Turkish passport allows individuals much greater flexibility in terms of where they want to live as well as where they can travel visa-free.
There are very minimal requirements for the programme other than having the right amount of funds and passing the due diligence check. Unlike other programmes, Turkey has no stay which means that you will not have to visit or reside in the country in order to gain citizenship. Further to this, applicants do not need to learn the Turkish language, nor renounce any other citizenship the applicant may have. In terms of financial benefits, Turkey has liberal taxation laws, with no taxation on worldwide income. Turkish authorities will also not ask individuals to declare their wealth. As such, citizenship from Turkey will allow individuals to utilise much better tax planning options, making the most of any income that is received.
The Caribbean: The cheapest second passports
If you do not have $130,000 to $250,000 in available capital to invest, there are other routes to getting a second passport. The least expensive way would be making a one-time government donation. The cheapest countries to get citizenship through this method are St. Lucia, through its National Economic Fund and Dominica. For both of the programmes, applicants can make a one-time contribution, which is just $100,000 for a single applicant. Whilst $100,000 is the least amount of money that will need to be paid upfront, it is worth bearing in mind that, unlike government bonds, these are government donations, as such, you will never be able to get this money back.
When getting citizenship by investment, a lot of individuals will want to include their families or dependents on their application. Yet for families of 4 or more, this can be considerably more expensive. For the above programmes, a family of 4 costs over $150,000 for St. Lucia, and over $200,000 for Dominica. So as you can see, adding your family to your application is not cheap. The cheapest way for a family to get a second passport would be through the Antigua & Barbuda citizenship programme. For an individual with 3 applicants, (i.e. a family of 4), the cheapest option would be for the main applicant to pay a $140,000 one time government donation.
As you can see, there is no one programme that is easier than the other, it all depends on the reasons and individual circumstances of each applicant, depending on whether they need to get a passport quickly, if they require a programme that offers greater flexibility, or if they are looking for the easiest option in terms of financing their investment choice. As such, deciding which programme you wish to pursue can be a complex and difficult decision to make. That is why we suggest that before making a decision, individuals should have a one-on-one consultation with an experienced immigration advisor that understands the nuances and differences between the different programmes.
That way, when you decide to take the plunge and get a second passport, you will be able to make an informed decision and be confident that it is the best route for you and your family to make.
If you are interested in finding out more information about any of these programmes, or other possible routes to getting a second passport, the Bridgeway Trust team can provide a free consultation with one of our CBI advisors.