It’s fairly common nowadays for people to look for second passports. A European Union passport can be extremely handy for those who enjoy travelling but getting one can take much work. One of the options you have as a citizen of the United States is to gain dual citizenship with an EU country that is also open to dual citizenship. After that, all you have to do is apply for a passport in that country.
There are several different options for gaining citizenship including using your own rights of heritage, choosing to naturalize into a country in the EU, or using your spouse’s nationality as a way to become a citizen. Once you become a citizen of the country, you can apply for a passport. While that all sounds pretty easy on paper, it can be a daunting process.
The Basics of EU Citizenship
When you have citizenship in the European Union, that gives you the option to travel, work or study in any part of the EU without the need for a visa. However, keep in mind that becoming a citizen can take many years. To become an EU citizen, you have to apply for citizenship in one of the many EU countries; and every country has its own process and requirements.
"Four distinct paths to citizenship may work for you, depending on your current situation"
You will have to live in the country for a certain number of years; find plenty of proof that you are eligible to be a citizen, and then turn in an application for citizenship. In some cases an appliance fee, language tests and citizenship tests may be required. Those who have already been living in an EU country for quite some time may have the best chance of gaining citizenship.
Most Common Individuals Seeking a Second Citizenship
All sorts of different people are interested in getting a second passport, one of the most important things to consider is who you are and why you want to do this. The most common types of people seeking a second passport include:
· United States Citizens – often those who wish to renounce their citizenship or do so in the future. There are many reasons for this wish ranging from investment opportunities to taxes, privacy, business limitations and others. If you are looking into renunciation, a second passport is going to be required no matter what the actual reason is.
· Emerging World Citizens – who may be losing opportunities due to their current passports. Arab and Chinese citizens are the most likely to take part in citizenship-by-investment programs or residency-by-investment programs. This is because their passports may be restrictive and they appreciate having a plan B on the table. Those who are in these countries and wealthy can choose a second citizenship or even residency and pay for it while getting travel benefits in return.
In contrast, Arabs are more likely to apply for residency by investment programs as some of their home countries do not allow dual citizenship; indeed, some countries permit a renunciation of citizenship, while others do not.
· Investors and Business Owners – often these people are also looking for a plan B. US citizens are the most likely to require a second passport, but other countries citizens can also benefit from it in some cases. Some people just want to know that they have another option if something goes wrong in the country they are currently a citizen from.
The Process of Becoming a European Citizen
If you have already done the research and know you want to become a European citizen, it’s time to think about the options that are available to you. Four distinct paths to citizenship may work for you depending on your current situation.
"High-Net-Worth individuals from diverse nationalities are seeking a second citizenship"
- Citizenship by Descent – Those who have a parent, grandparent and in some cases, a great grandparent who is or was a citizen of a European country might be able to become a citizen as well. Keep in mind that there are going to be certain conditions in place that you will need to meet if you choose this method.
- Naturalization – This type of process involves receiving a resident permit for the country of your choice in Europe and simply waiting around until naturalization takes its course and you are allowed to become a citizen; this method usually takes several years depending on the country of your choice.
- Citizenship by Investment – In some EU countries, making a substantial investment into the country can offer you citizenship in the country:
Cyprus Citizenship-by-Investment Program: Cyprus offers investors a safe and stable environment which is ideal for raising families. At the crossroads of Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Cyprus is the perfect setting for global travel. An important member of the European Union, it is also an active member of the British Commonwealth.
Minimum Investment: 2 million euros plus fees ("EUR 75,000 contribution to the Research & Innovation Foundation and EUR 75,000 contribution to the Cyprus Land Development Corporation" has been added since May 2019).
Time to Citizenship: 3 to 4 months
Visa-Free Access: 150+ countries
The Cyprus Citizenship-by-Investment Program is ideal for business and investment purposes recognising numerous investment opportunities for investors.
Malta Citizenship-by-Investment Program: Malta lies in the heart of the Mediterranean. The country has a very rich history with a great number of historic sites. The country is a member of the major international organizations including the United Nations and the Council of Europe, the International Monetary Fund and is a member of the European Union as well as the Eurozone and the Schengen Area.
Minimum Investment: 1.2 million euros plus fees
Time to Citizenship: 1 year
Visa-Free Access: 160+ countries
Having a Malta passport and dual citizenship benefits future generations with increased political and economic freedom, as well as significant educational opportunities in the west.
Turkey Citizenship-by-Investment Program: After the Ottoman Empire fell in 1918, Turkey transformed itself into the vibrant, modernising, secular state it is today. As a result of its vibrant history and geography, Turkey is a very varied country, rich in culture and with a strong economy.
Turkish passport allows visa-free access to 110+ countries in the world including Singapore, Hong Kong, Argentina, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Moldova, Montenegro, Qatar, South Africa, Thailand, Lebanon. Investors do not need to renounce their current citizenship(s), therefore they can benefit from different nationalities.
Minimum Required Investment: USD 250,000 + fees
Time to Citizenship: 4 to 6 months
Visa-Free Access:110+ countries
- Citizenship by Exception – Government bodies like the prime minister, parliament, or the president can grant citizenship to people for a country. This often only occurs in cases of exceptional merit.
You will want to consider which of these options works best for your situation. Some of them can take far less time than others, but none are instant, and all will require some work on your end. This is also why it is integral to get the process started sooner rather than later. You’ll be in a situation where you have more opportunities and nobody can really argue against that being a great thing.
To schedule a no-obligation consultation, please sign up on our website or call our team of expert consultants in Citizenship and Residency by Investment Programs: +971 (0) 4 430 1717 or WhatsApp +971 54 440 2955.