With Brexit looming large in everyone’s minds, it’s no surprise that recent months and years have seen an explosion in applications from UK residents looking to retain some security via a second passport.
The concept of “dual” or “second” citizenship is perfect for high net worth individuals who are hunting for international mobility and business opportunities in order to remain successful. It’s vital for not only allowing them to gain access to two passports and two social service systems, it also means there is no lengthy or time-consuming paperwork to be done to apply for a visa.
Obtaining a second citizenship also has the added benefit of allowing the children and immediate family of dual citizens to enjoy global citizenship for themselves. This is essentially because children of school or university age can receive the benefits of educational advantages, subsequent favourable economic prospects, plus social protection, right from the very beginning. Dual citizenship is also very attractive to individuals who value the chance to live in a prosperous, stable, peaceful environment within a growing socio-political country. It is also a great option for those who wish to expand their horizons and embrace new destinations and cultures.
The Impact of Brexit
One of the biggest implications in leaving the European Union for British people is that they will not be citizens of the EU. This means they will no longer have the right to free movement across EU countries, or to permanently live in any other EU member state. They will also give up the right to equal treatment in other EU member countries according to the same terms as nationals already living in those countries. In many ways this is an unappealing prospect for business people and for those of high net worth.
How is Citizenship Normally Obtained?
Generally speaking, second passports can be achieved in one of three ways: ancestrally (your family originates from there), organically (by naturalisation), or financially (by investment). The organic method is particularly difficult as it usually means a long naturalisation processes, often of anything from 5 to 10 years. Some countries, like France for example, also demand that would-be citizens learn French proficiently. It also asks for proof of integration as well as a citizenship test.
Although the UK government has said that around 900,000 British citizens are “long-term residents” of other EU member countries, it cannot be assumed that they will automatically be allowed to stay unless they adhere to their host country’s naturalisation criteria. Marriage still offers some shortcut, but restrictions are still applicable, for example, Ireland stipulates three years of marriage must have passed before you can naturalise, whereas France states four years with three spent in the country. For UK citizens who are suddenly facing the distinct possibility of a no-deal Brexit (and yet more uncertainty even if there is a deal) meeting requirements for second passports has, for many, become a sharp priority.
Citizenship by Investment Programmes
For high net worth individuals there is also have the option of investing your way to European Union citizenship where countries such as the Netherlands, Spain and Malta, Spain will accept a financial investment intothe country exchange for a fast-track route to citizenship.
Within the EU, Malta is currently the least expensive, stipulating that an individual should have a minimum of one year’s residency alongside an investment of 1.15m euros. Further afield and away from the EU, there are many thriving and popular schemes courtesy of Caribbean nations including Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, St Lucia and Grenada. Criteria and investment amounts vary between nations. However, Citizenship by Investment has been booming since the mid-80s so is certainly a well-established route to take when a second passport is the end goal.
Interested in Finding Out More?
If you have any questions about Citizenship by Investment or would like to discuss your options, please do get in touch with our expert team who will be pleased to help. Contact us today.