Second Citizenships and New Residences – the Post 11 September 2001 Market by Stephen Gray
I. SECOND CITIZENSHIPS
The reasons why individuals seek a second nationality are varied, but the principal ones expressed over the years are these:
(1) Travel Insurance. Just as the prudent person buys insurance to protect his health, life, home, car, personal possessions, etc., every person who is a citizen of a currently or potentially politically unstable country should possess a second nationality (and second passport) in case of an emergency. For example, during the Gulf War, many wealthy Kuwaitis had funds outside of Kuwait, but they could not escape from their invaded country in the first place in order to have access to those funds. (According to the Iraqi government, Kuwait had ceased to exist as a nation.) Commercial airlines were not willing to allow Kuwaitis to board lest the airline be fined by the next country of destination for bringing refugees or asylum-seekers to that country. Wealthy Taiwanese may face the same issue if Taiwan is ever invaded by the People’s Republic of China or is ceded to the PRC in a Hong Kong-type settlement. If one looks at a world map, the countries where there are (or reasonably may be) serious problems outnumber those which are stable. And, there is no place on earth immune from civil strife, a hard lesson learned recently in Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav passport was, for a time, an excellent one.
Travel concerns do not merely extend to problems at the national level. Individuals, who are concerned with divorce, bankruptcy, government expropriation, violent personal creditors, unwarranted government investigation, and repressive local government, want the security of a second passport in case there is a judicial order seizing the known-passport as part of some other proceeding. Not all courts are free of corruption and act fairly. In many countries, a court is the last place to expect justice.
If there is a problem, then it will usually be too late to obtain the second citizenship. (No one will sell to you fire insurance after your home has burned down.) The process takes time, and the government granting the citizenship wants to avoid problem applicants. If there is a requirement that the applicant travel to the new country as part of the application process, he may not be able to get there during a time of distress. And, as will be shown, programs come and go. The opportunity of today may not be there tomorrow, or may cost more.
(2) Improved Travel. The obvious, main benefit from a second citizenship for most persons is improved travel. The quality and cost of a legal second citizenship turns on this factor. Thus, a People’s Republic of China citizen, who can travel virtually nowhere without a visa, can move about comparatively freely on a new passport from another country. (But, he does technically lose his People’s Republic of China citizenship.) Ease of travel is also desired by citizens of Russia, other citizens of the Commonwealth of Independent States, citizens of India, and many other countries’ nationals, including the majority of countries in Africa and the Middle East. In terms of the world’s total population, far less than half possess even a second-class travel document. While travel may not be too burdensome for the international businessman, there is still, even for him, the need to obtain invitations, to stand in queues, and to make travel arrangements far in advance; and, the problem with family members remains.