Why MENA Entrepreneurs Should Invest In Citizenship-By-Investment Programs
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The unprecedented circumstances seen in 2020 have thrown a spanner in the works for economic and business sectors across the world. Freedom of movement is all but gone, with economic and political strife breaking out in all corners of the globe, making it challenging to conduct domestic or international business. But even before COVID-19 closed borders everywhere, ambitious entrepreneurs found it challenging to break into the global market due to the passport they held, particularly indivduals from MENA countries. Fortunately, MENA entrepreneurs have found a solution to their problems- obtaining a second passport- and the outbreak of coronavirus seems to have swayed the cost of obtaining one in a favourable direction for investors.
The benefits of a second passport
In this instance, a second passport and second citizenship refer to the occasion where an individual is a legal citizen of a country that is not their home nation, either through dual citizenship or renouncing citizenship, and thereby gaining access to the financial, societal and economic benefits of another nation. Investing in a second passport is a gateway to many benefits, including a safe and stable political climate, visa-free travel to hundreds of countries, prosperous economy, quality education opportunities, world-class healthcare and most importantly, access to business opportunities and global markets. And due to the latter, it is fast becoming a favourite investment for MENA entrepreneurs. In particular, Caribbean countries like St. Kitts and Nevis have seen a steady uptick in MENA applicants to its citizenship-by-investment program due to the high living standards, tropical environment and enticing benefits, like visa-free travel to 156 countries.
Obtaining a second passport
Typically, a second citizenship could only be obtained through ancestral lineage, naturalisation, marrying a foreign national or through birthright citizenship. Today the preferred option is applying through citizenship-by investment (CBI) programs. Since the inception of the St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment program in 1984, many countries have CBI programs in place that allow individuals to legally gain citizenship through a non-refundable donation to the government or by investing in real estate and holding the property for several years. The process is usually straightforward and fast, with most passports issued within four months of application approval. Caribbean CBI programs tend to be the more favored route in comparison to European CBI programs. A second passport from countries like Grenada and St. Kitts and Nevis offer all the benefits MENA entrepreneurs would want at a much more affordable cost and through a quicker, simpler process than that of their European counterparts.
While the worldwide pandemic’s impact had devastating consequences, it has made 2020 an ideal time to invest in a second citizenship. Those seeking the lifelong benefit of having more options for living, travelling, business, investments and tax regimens are given the opportunity to make their dreams a reality. Several Caribbean CBI programs are now offering favorable promotions on investment contributions or adding new investment options due to the COVID-19 crisis. This includes the well-established St. Kitts and Nevis CBI, whose contribution option for a family of up to four has been reduced from US$195,000 to $150,000 until the end of the year. As of 6 September 2020, Dominica’s newly-implemented Entrepreneur Visa program which allows individuals to qualify for naturalisation within two years on the conditions that a $50,000 investment is made and three months of the year is spent in the country. Obtaining a legal second passport has become more affordable for prospective investors.
Why invest in a second passport?
- Visa-free travel: A second passport gives entrepreneurs the freedom to travel to hundreds of countries, including Schengen areas, and conduct business face-to-face without any hassle. Depending on the passport, they are able to travel to several key economic and business hubs, such as London and Milan, without having to go through the burdensome process of applying for a work visa.
- Tax benefits: Depending on the country, holding citizenship in certain nations can allow for favorable tax benefits, such as lower rates or no taxation on wealth, inheritance or gifts.
- Greater access: Holding a second passport grants efficient access to the global market, and is arguably the number one reason entrepreneurs opt to invest in the first place. Many countries limit business markets to their citizens, but obtaining second citizenship opens up the possibility to enter that region as well as branch out into markets in the EU and other nations.
- Financial opportunities: Entrepreneurs not only gain commercial access to their country of origin but to their second nationality as well when investing in a second citizenship. A second passport is a gateway to lucrative business and investment opportunities in a country with better interest and exchange rates. This opportunity is not limited to the country where the entrepreneur holds second citizenship but extends to property markets in other regions, like Europe.
- Ultimate insurance: A second passport is the best possible safety-net one could have when running a successful company. Having the option to relocate a company, assets and loved ones to a more stable nation in the wake of conflict, civil unrest or travel sanctions is a necessary contingency plan that everyone should have in the post-COVID-19 era.
Of course, there are many other benefits to holding a second passport, but these are the pivotal motivations for obtaining a second passport among MENA entrepreneurs.