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Second Citizenship, Second Passport – Frequently Asked Questions

Is it legal to obtain second citizenship and second passport?

In the Russian Federation there are no prohibitive norms concerning second citizenship and second passport by Russian citizens. The only exception is made for persons occupying important positions like President, Prime-Minister, Security Officers, Deputies of State Duma, and some other positions. If you are a man of business no restrictions for holding two or several citizenships apply. That is why obtaining of second citizenship for Russians is a perfectly legal procedure. This means you may hold a second passport absolutely legally. In case you are citizen of another country it is recommended that you check the local legislation first or consult a specialist. In some countries (for example, UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Belgium, Russian Federation, Israel, and some others) dual citizenship is allowed. For citizens of these countries is legal to have second passport (and also legal to hold several citizenships, not just two). In other countries (Denmark, Germany, Monaco, Japan, China, Kazakhstan, and some others) dual citizenship is not allowed.

Why to obtain a second citizenship?

Many factors exist that stimulate citizens of many countries to obtain a second legal passport. Among them are the following:

  1. One of very widespread motive for obtaining of second citizenship is impossibility to receive a visa in order to travel to the USA, UK, Canada, European Countries, or another country with strict visa-rules. If you hold Russian, Ukrainian, or Chinese passport, you will have to apply for visa every time you want visit, let us say, Germany, United Kingdom or USA. Embassies of developed countries issue visas not for everyone who applies. There were cases when the whole pile of certificates about financial solvency, stable earnings and a family that keeps the client in home country were useless to prove that you have no the so-called “immigration intents”. When you apply for a visa in a decent country such legal principle as “presumption of innocence” does not work. A person is already “guilty” that he is a Russian citizen or the citizen of a country of a former USSR.
  2. It may be also reluctance to open bank accounts abroad or incorporate an offshore company using your native passport. Tax system may vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction; and in some cases, holding two passports can be of help in optimization and minimization of the taxable basis. Motives for desire to have second passport may be different.
  3. If you are citizen of the former USSR country it is practically impossible to obtain permission for work (work permit or work authorization) in Germany, France or Spain. Your application will be declined in 90 % for various reasons. On the other hand, citizens of Bulgaria, Romania and other EU-countries even do not need to ask for such a work permit. They can simply relocate to another EU-country and take any suitable job. If you are a holder of American or Canadian passport it will be easier to obtain work authorization in EU. And surely it will be very easy to get work permit in any country of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
  4. Reluctance to serve a service in the army for a fixed period in a home country or unwillingness your children will serve in it. This reason is typical for citizens who live in countries that are considered militaristic. When there is a real risk that your kid is mobilized and go to war, you will think about obtaining for him a second passport of some small and peaceful country (Antigua & Barbuda, Saint-Kitts & Nevis or Commonwealth of Dominica).
  5. Second passport gives its holder the ability to permanently change a country of residence any time he wants and without any cumbersome paperwork that is always associated with visas, temporary residence permits, and even permanent residence permits. Only second citizenship is the full immigration status while even permanent residence can be revoked under various circumstances.

What options are in existence for second citizenship programs?

We provide legal assistance in obtaining citizenship of a number of countries. Among them are the following states: Antigua & Barbuda, Grenada, Saint-Kitts & Nevis, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta, Slovakia, and Austria. In the above-mentioned countries citizenship can be obtained by investment or by the special merits before the state in scope of 5-18 months depending upon the chosen country. It should be noted that despite our Company can assist in obtaining of the second citizenship of some jurisdictions in a short period of time this is not at all sales and purchase of passports. Advanced and developed countries do not sell their citizenship and passports. They grant it if an applicant fulfils certain requirements, including but not limited to residence requirements. Even we take as an example the citizenship program of Saint-Kitts & Nevis, the fastest program of economic citizenship in the world, we can see that legal procedure includes due diligence. You cannot simply buy this passport.

What kind of residency programs do you recommend for investors who are not interested if fast passport programs?

“Elma Global” also deals with residence for investment programs in the USA (visa EB5), United Kingdom, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong, and in some other countries. But physical residence requirement in these countries applies in case you want citizenship. For instance, in the United Kingdom investor is expected to live six years before he becomes eligible to apply for citizenship. In the USA residence requirement for citizenship is five years but these five years must be on permanent basis (Green Card). Canada seems to be the most democratic in this respect with only three years of permanent residence before citizenship and passport. In the USA, UK or in Canada you can be naturalized without renouncing your former citizenship. These countries recognize dual citizenship. In Singapore the situation is different. You may apply for citizenship of Singapore after two years residence there but in all cases, you will be required to renounce your previous citizenship. Though passport of Singapore is an excellent and well-respected passport, it is not the option for those who wish to keep their first citizenship.

Are there any countries that prohibit their citizens to hold two citizenships?

Most European countries do not prohibit their citizens or nationals to hold two or more citizenships, except for Germany, Denmark, Malta, and Monaco. These states do not acknowledge dual citizenship. So, when a foreigner is acquiring German citizenship, he is required not only to apply for renunciation of his native citizenship but to produce a document, showing renunciation. It should be kept in mind, that despite some countries do not prohibit their citizens to hold two citizenships, but regard dual citizenship (one of cases of broader notion: multiple citizenship) with suspicion or, it is better to say, without encouragement. This is explained by the fact that under certain circumstance of correct tax planning second citizenship allows people to legally minimize their taxable basis.

Questions and answers:

Question: I am US citizen and would like to receive a second passport. Please, let me know fastest and most economical ways to get second passport.
Answer: The cheapest second citizenship by investment programs is the program of the Commonwealth of Dominica; it requires donation of 100,000 USD to government foundation. Alternatively, you may opt for some EU passport programs which are expensive. For instance, Bulgaria requires investment of 1,024,000 EUR into governmental bonds for a period of 5 years. Cyprus requires purchase of real estate valued 500,000 EUR + 5,000,000 EUR deposit in a Cypriot bank. Malta requires purchase of real estate valued 350,000 EUR + purchase of bond valued 150,000 EUR + donation of 650,000 EUR to government foundation.

Question: Lots of confusing info in regards to second passport. Some say that in 2011 there is not accelerated passport. The real problem is that some companies want to have wired in half of the total fee before the first visit with no contract, no guarantee of anything. How is this possible? I ask would you wire thousands based on someone’s word and a website. Is that sufficient guarantee that the funds do not vanish or that the product is not delivered in 6 months as stated. Then what is my assurance, what is my guarantee – they have the money and I have words? Trying to get some info from the US consulate as regards to the law and no reply. Lots of mixed info on the docs necessary. Help please and how do I know who is credible and who is not?

Answer: If you are offered “words in exchange for money” this is a bad sign and bad practice. In all cases we conclude with a client a written contract that stipulates rights and obligations of the parties and guarantees of money reimbursement in some cases (with the exception of cases when the applicant provides us with false, incorrect or misleading information for his/her citizenship application). Also, please, note that nowadays only four countries ( Dominica, Antigua & Barbuda, St. Kitts & Nevis and Cyprus)) have official citizenship by investment (or second passport) programs that are relatively not so expensive but still involve irrevocable donation of 100,000 USD or more. All the other countries (e.g. Austria, Bulgaria and Slovakia) where economic citizenship is possible normally need substantiation of candidate’s special contribution to the economy or other sector (not an investment as such). The decisions regarding citizenship applications based on investment are considered in EU on case-by-case basis. EU-citizenship programs are very expensive (with legal and lobbying fees starting from 100,000 EUR).

Question: What is the current requirement for Hungary citizenship?
Answer: They do not have citizenship by investment program in Hungary. They have permanent residency by investment program. It was introduced in December 2012. Foreign investor is expected to invest 250,000 EUR into government bonds for a 5 years period. Based on this he and his family members will get permanent residency permits. They will be eligible to apply for Hungarian citizenship after 8 years of residence in Hungary and provided they can speak Hungarian.

Question: Is it possible to have different names in different countries, e.g. different name in a second passport?
Answer: Yes, it is possible to have different names in legal documents but this is normally is not recommended (to avoid problems when travelling with two passports). First you must obtain citizenship and get passport on your current name. Then you can officially apply in the country of second citizenship to change your name or family name. If you mean that you want to have documents with other name directly you must know this is not legal and we cannot assist here.
Question: Why is it not recommended? Even if it’s not directly (like I imagined) will the documents be with another name?
Answer: If you are going to use both travel passports together (simultaneously) there might be problems. It may seem strange for a passport control officer and you may be arrested for a short period of time for additional checks. But if you use the passport with a different name as the only document for travel you use it will be OK.

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