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Dual or multiple citizenship: check if you can get one

Many people want second nationality to have more opportunities available to them. It opens doors to more countries, international banks and tax optimisation. But it is not always as easy as it seems. Here we will tell you what to look out for and be aware of and how to become dual citizen. But let’s start with what a second passport can give you.

Benefits of dual citizenship

Each country has its own advantages in terms of social, taxation and political systems. But here are the most common ones that explain why people are seeking to acquire other nationalities.

  • Travelling to more countries without a visa.
  • Having a backup plan in case something happens at home.
  • Getting access to high-quality education and healthcare.
  • Passing citizenship to your children.
  • Optimising taxes.
  • Running a business and investing in a stable economy.

Read this before applying for second nationality

Some people are lucky to have dual nationality by birth or marriage, others have to work hard and be very patient before they can be naturalised in a foreign country. Wealthy people would normally get a second passport faster by investing in a foreign economy. We will give you more details below.

Irrespective of how you plan to acquire dual citizenship, first you must check the rules of your home country whose passport you already have. Do not take it for granted that dual nationality is allowed by each state; there are countries that do not accept or recognise it, like China or Qatar. Some countries allow dual citizenship only till a certain age, for example in Japan it is 22.

Measure before you cut, or you might end up losing your original nationality. If it is important to you, double check citizenship laws in both countries or talk to an immigration lawyer.

Know your rights and duties as a dual national

In most cases, unless there are dual nationality agreements signed between the countries, with a second citizenship come rights and obligations of that country in addition to those of your home country.

Rights

You can choose where you want to be tax resident and if there is a double taxation treaty, pay taxes only in the country where you live most of the time. However, we strongly recommend consulting a tax adviser to discuss your taxation matters.

Duties

Each country where you hold citizenship will treat you as their full subject and if there is compulsory military service in both countries, you will have to do it twice. But, say, you are British and acquire Israeli citizenship – you will only serve in Israel because there is no national service in the United Kingdom.

Как получают второе гражданство

What are the restrictions of dual nationality?

Your second passport can prevent you from standing for government or presidential elections in some countries. For example, Boris Johnson could become an MP because he had renounced his US citizenship before that.

Though no country would announce the fact of your naturalisation to the world, there still exist certain laws and agreements that enforce this information to be shared between certain countries. For instance, Schengen states must exchange data on their new citizens.

In other countries where second citizenship is allowed, you would still have to inform the authorities about it. Failure to do so might result in penalties and criminal persecution.

How to get second citizenship?

If you do not have dual nationality by birth, marriage or descent, you must go through the process called naturalisation. It takes a lot of time and starts with obtaining a residence permit or a long-term visa. In 5-7 years, you can apply for permanent residence and in 6-12 years, after passing language and other tests, you will be eligible for a second passport.

If this option is not going to work for you, because you cannot move to another country for so long, there is another solution. A few European and Caribbean countries offer their passports much quicker if a foreign investor is prepared to invest a certain amount of money. It is a win-win situation – you get citizenship, they get money for local economy.

Professional team at Imperial & Legal is working with these programs and can help you get second passport in a country of your choice.

Second citizenship in the UK

The United Kingdom does not offer a citizenship by investment program like in Malta or St Kitts, but they offer very flexible terms to foreign investors and their families willing to invest in local businesses. Minimum required investment under Tier 1 Investor visa is £2 million, next threshold is £5 million and then £10 million. If you go highest, you can become permanent resident in 2 years and in 3 more years (five in total) apply for naturalisation.

However, all this time you must live in the UK (it is very strict) and if you can afford it, it is worth it. If you invest wisely, you can gain and recover your money. Besides, there are great opportunities for tax optimisation, building a business or a career. Living standards are high, education and healthcare are world-class. British passport is also your ticket to the world.

European citizenship by investment

A few countries in Europe offer foreign nationals their citizenship in return for their investments in local economies. We will focus on Cyprus, Malta and Montenegro, but a full list of jurisdictions can be found here.

Cyprus citizenship by investment

Get your second passport in 7 months after applying and you don’t have to live there. As an EU national you will be able to live, work or study in any member country of the European Union. Moreover, Cyprus has been attracting wealthy people and businesses thanks to its tax benefits. In order to apply, buy a home for at least €500,000 (cannot be sold), make non-refundable donations of €150,000 and top it up with other investments of €1,500,000.

Malta citizenship by investment

A beautiful country and a well-known tax haven. It will take 12-14 months before you become Maltese citizen and an EU national at the same time, with all the rights it gives. There is no requirement to live on the islands, but you will still need to visit a couple of times. Minimum required investment for a single applicant is €1,150,000. More than a half of it is non-refundable while the rest, investment in real estate and business, can be recovered in 5 years.

Montenegro citizenship by investment

Not part of the EU now, but an aspiring candidate, this country can offer a lot of advantages for business and travels. Second passport will be in your pocket in 6 months after investing €350,000 in local economy including a non-refundable donation of €100,000 to a state fund.

Преимущества карибского паспорта

Caribbean citizenship by investment

And finally, the best offer on the market. Small Caribbean states, members of the Commonwealth, are very keen on foreign investments. In return they are happy to give you and your family a second passport which is much cheaper than a European passport. Investments start at $100,000.

A Caribbean passport is not as good as a European one in terms of visa-free travel, but it does offer a lot of opportunities for business and tax optimisation. Besides, it is much easier to get and can be done remotely.

Imperial & Legal will help you apply for second nationality of the following Caribbean countries: St Kitts & Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica and Saint Lucia.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many options of obtaining second citizenship by investment, and they differ in their requirements and benefits offered to investors. Qualified lawyers at Imperial & Legal will advise you what program would best suit your needs and budget.

If a second passport is not your only target and you want to become a full member of society and integrate in a local culture, our experts will support your relocation needs and make sure you use the benefits of your new country to push your business forward and optimise taxes.

FAQ about second and dual citizenship

How can I obtain second citizenship in the EU?

There are several options to obtain an EU passport. The first two options mentioned below are quite unusual and would not suit every immigration case. You can become an EU citizen if:

  • You become a political Not every EU country would be ready to grant you political asylum purely based on what you tell them. And with this status, you won’t be able to return to your motherland.
  • You can take part in the repatriation program that allows to obtain EU residence or get an EU passport under an accelerated procedure. For example, Hungary offers such an option for ethnic Hungarians who currently live in Ukraine.

Here are more common ways to obtain an EU second passport:

  • You can become an EU citizen by blood if one of your parents is an EU national.
  • You can go through a naturalisation procedure. Naturalisation is a way to obtain citizenship after living in the country for a long period of time (from 5 to 12 years). It involves deep integration in the society and requires good knowledge of the official language.
  • You can take part in a citizenship by investment You will be able to get an European passport with some benefits if you make an investment into a European economy. This option is currently offered only by Montenegro and Malta.

What is the best immigration route to the EU for a businessperson who plans to obtain an EU passport?

The EU does not experience any lack of immigrants. For this reason, it will be hard for a businessperson with a family to get European residence if they have no relatives abroad.

Such businesspeople are not very “valuable assets” for the EU since:

  • They are already married and will not start a family with an EU national.
  • They already earn enough money and will not seek employment in the EU.
  • Their relatives live in another country.

The only way for businesspeople to obtain EU residence is to make an investment. Residence by investment programs in Malta, Portugal, Spain, Latvia and some other EU countries allow them to get a residence card for a relatively small investment into the economy. This card enables investors to reside in the EU and travel freely within the Schengen area.

How can I get an EU citizenship if my country prohibits dual citizenship?

Our advisors recommend not to break the rules of your home country if it prohibits dual citizenship. If you are discovered to do so, you can lose your first citizenship and get prosecuted. That’s why, make sure to doublecheck if your home country allows dual citizenship.

If you need a second passport to travel around the world, our advisors suggest that youtake part in one of the Caribbean citizenship by investment programs. These countries, unlike other jurisdictions, keep the information about their investors confidential, even if they are pressurised by international organisations. The required investment amounts are relatively small, and you can apply for a Caribbean passport remotely through a legal advisor. Imperial & Legal advisors will be happy to help potential investors get citizenship by investment quickly and at low cost.

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