By Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of Citizenship Invest.
6 questions you must ask when obtaining a second citizenship
Citizenship programs offer people a chance to obtain a second powerful nationality that allows them freedom of movement and security for their families, as well as a better way to safekeep their businesses and wealth.
However, many people decide to apply for these programs without carefully understanding the fine print. There are important aspects to each particular Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program understanding them can mean the difference between a citizenship approval or a rejection.
Below are some of the key points to be taken into account when choosing a citizenship program.
Have you ever been rejected visas before?
This may be the most important question to ask before embarking on a citizenship application process. If your citizenship consultant does not bring up this question, consider changing consultancy firms as soon as possible. Any past visa rejections are a primary concern for governments with CBI programs and the application will result in a rejection. The governments will deny the citizenship if the due diligence reveals that the applicant had been rejected entry to any country which shares visa waver agreements with that particular CBI country, especially when it comes to UK and Schengen states.
What family members can you include under your application?
Including dependents is common, however, it is imperative that applicants know who they can include under the same application. Your citizenship consultant needs to be well versed when it comes to including family dependents. Lack of knowledge in this area can have consequences and will ultimately result in delays and extra money which can be avoided with proper advice.
Dependents are children, spouse and parents of the main applicant or of the spouse who are financially dependent on the main applicant. Children must be enrolled in full time studies and proof financial dependency on the parents. Currently, only one CBI program accepts siblings of the main applicant or the spouse, these are unmarried brothers or sisters regardless of their age. These unmarried siblings cannot be previously divorced and cannot have children in order to qualify under the same application.
Each CBI program sets its own regulations for adding dependents. The citizenship consultant should be requesting information on the ages of the children and parents, as each program has different requirements. The date of birth of the applicant is important as, at the moment of applying, they should not surpass the minimum age by law. Also, they should find out whether the main applicant is planning to have kids in the future, because some programs such as St. Lucia do not contemplate including newborns after the citizenship has been issued.
Is your nationality banned from applying for the selected program?
There are specific nationalities that are barred from applying for some citizenship via investment programs. For instance, St. Kitts and Nevis does not allow nationals of North Korea, Iran and Afghanistan to apply for its program. Therefore, applicants need to understand what the options are for them. Other programs do not restrict any nationalities in particular and take applications in a case by case basis, the results will purely depend on the main applicant’s source of funds and a clean track record.
What are your future travel plans?
Each country has a unique visa-free list which can help applicants narrow down the different programs of choice. Consequently, when looking for the correct CBI program, one should know which country they will be visiting frequently. For example, Grenada is the only country with a CBI program that allows visa-free access to China. So, if an individual has business in China, they might want to apply for the Grenadian citizenship. Furthermore, a Grenadian passport allows visa-on-arrival to the UAE, which is a great option for individuals who have business in the UAE.
If to live in Europe is a priority, then Cyprus is the best option that any investor can look for. Upon obtaining a Cypriot nationality, applicants will be able to live in any country part of the EU. They will also have access to world-class education and healthcare. Cyprus also grants visa-free access to over 170 countries including Canada, Australia, UK and the UAE.
Most CBI programs allow visa-free access to the Schengen states except for the Turkish citizenship.
What are the main documents required?
Mainly each submitted file requires applicants to present basic documents such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, proof of address and medical examination. These documents can be quite easy to obtain but difficulties start when obtaining Police Clearance from their country of origin, their country of residence and any country they have resided in for 6 months in the last 10 years.
Understandably, many applicants cannot obtain police reports as their home countries are troubled with political distress, so they must provide an affidavit, which is a legal document that clearly justifies the reason for not being able to obtain the police report. However, not all CBI countries accept affidavits, which in this case an applicant is required to present a local lawyer’s reference letter that explains the reasons for not being able to obtain the police report from a particular country.
What financial information is required?
Primarily, the source of funds is the most crucial aspect of the application. The applicant can have clean criminal records but if the source of funds is dubious their citizenship will not be approved. One of the Government’s main concern when conducting the due diligence process is knowing how the applicant has generated his or her money and support documents must be presented justifying the same.
Once the due diligence report is concluded, the applicant needs to make the final payment to the Government. It is imperative that the applicant makes the payment from his own bank account or his company’s bank account not from a third party.
Bank transfers can be a complicated process nowadays, especially if the intermediary banks are in the United States. The citizenship consultancy company would need to liaise with the beneficiary bank in order to present the required documents for the funds to be cleared.
When applying for citizenship it is important to do exhaustive research on the citizenship processing companies, before you chose, and carefully investigate their track record. There are a lot of options on the internet, even some of them are listed on Governments websites, however very few of these have thorough experience in overcoming the challenges that a citizenship application can present.