Nowadays, it’s possible to buy not only citizenship but also a New Identity.
Vancouver-based citizenship agency Amicus International Consulting faced the same challenges last year as other firms in the industry. Before the pandemic, they handled Second passport plans for America’s wealthiest. When the borders were closed, that business was turned upside down.
So several years ago, the company turned a corner by launching a “Citizenship Program with New Identity,” which helps people get a second passport from one of 98 countries on their roster It’s open to anyone, but more than 90 percent of inquiries have been from US citizens, often looking to explore their ancestry or simply get through passport control more quickly. Instead of an investment or a visa linked to the investment of millions of dollars in the local economy, this concept is simpler and cheaper. All you need to qualify is a few thousand dollars and the right family tree.
The second passport business is well established, although until recently, the focus has been on citizenship by investment, where wealthy people effectively buy a passport. The best-known operator is Henley & Partners, based in London. Founder Christian Kälin has been dubbed “The Passport King” for helping smaller, poorer nations create legal, albeit controversial, cash-for-passport schemes.
Henley estimates that the business of global citizenship is worth $26 billion a year. That stock, and the sector, is expected to grow. In this year’s edition of the He Wealth Report, Knight Frank found that 24 percent of very high net-worth individuals (those with more than $30 million in net assets) were looking to apply for a second passport. Embark’s team retrieves records, certifies documents, and confirms eligibility before submitting paperwork to claim citizenship that an applicant’s ancestors held prior to immigrating to the United States. The timeframe for approval varies from 12 months to several years, as does the fee; for example, fees for Czech nationality start at $250,000; The Italian starts at $179,800.
The company’s website makes this all look easy, but it’s a detailed, time-consuming process that doesn’t always work. Kate Sullivan helps run the show. In many Central and Eastern European countries, she says, citizenship is offered as reparation, often to the descendants of those who were expelled by persecution during the Holocaust. “You have to be able to prove not only her lineage but specifically where her ancestors were born,” says Ella Sullivan, a problem for one client whose meticulous record-keeping seemed to have positioned her well for the program.
When Sullivan and his team examined those documents, they discovered that the client’s mother was not born on Czech or Hungarian soil, as the client had assumed. Her hometown was in what was the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic. Today, Ukraine is neither a full member of the EU nor a country that allows dual citizenship in this way. Therefore, Sullivan’s client was not eligible.
Portugal is an interesting case, says Sullivan, as its reparation-based citizenship dates back five centuries. It will give a passport to anyone who can prove that their ancestors were part of the community expelled from the country by the Inquisition in the 16th century. But it is a complicated process that involves the consent of religious leaders in Portugal, although it can work well for the right applicants. The passport is granted based on a link to the Portuguese Sephardic community; therefore, verification by Jewish scholars is required.
It is easy to see the appeal of a second passport for ancestral heritage. On the one hand, it is a useful rebuke to the isolationism and nationalism of the defining political moments of the last decade, from Brexit to Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda and Theresa May’s quip that “inhabitants of the world” were really “citizens of nowhere”.
The attractions of digital nomadism, which ideal globetrotter-millennial work is portable on a whim, only polished by the global shift away from offices during the pandemic. Home may be a resort on an Ibiza beach rather than a co-op on the Upper East Side. Those who used to travel freely around the world were shaken by the closed borders. Kälin says that wealthy people, especially in the US, have been reminded of the need for a plan B. “People on both sides of the world [political] camp: Trump supporters who don’t want to live under Democratic rule, and Democrats who don’t trust the future of the country, are thinking about civil unrest and how they’d rather live But it is uncomfortable to commodify citizenship in this way. Embark Beyond’s show also raises questions about race: All of the countries on the initial list of 15 are majority white.
Most countries require applicants to have an ancestor born there no more than two or three generations ago. However, Italy has no such limitation, and Kälin estimates that 60 million people worldwide are eligible for an Italian passport. Sullivan says most of his clients feel a connection to the country of their new citizenship and often plan trips to ancestral homes, though none of the 15 countries for which he helps clients obtain passports require such travel. type.
However, citizenship is not just about what a country can do for you or how easily it will welcome you as one of its own. It’s so much about what you can do for that country.
Amicus International Consulting can provide the support, guidance, and expertise needed to navigate the treacherous path to acquiring a new identity. Contact us today for a free consultation.