SECOND PASSPORTS - 10 THINGS OF NOTE: For all the 2nd passport aspirants in the Middle East, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is! - PR and Citizenship

SECOND PASSPORTS – 10 THINGS OF NOTE: For all the 2nd passport aspirants in the Middle East, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

The RCBI industry has come a long way from being a low profile tax heaven, exclusive to VHNWs, to multi-billion dollar investment channel opening up options to encompass even the higher middle-class professionals and businessmen who are attempting to escape the ever-changing socio-political climate around the world, just within a decade. This unprecedented change was in largely due to nations desperately searching for a quick and efficient fix for the aftermath of the late 2000’s economic crisis through foreign direct investment, and has been helped along by others who want to put themselves on the map while supplementing their fiscal budgets.

Unfortunately though, as much as any other industry with this volume of investment, and even more than others in some cases due to the sensitive nature of the subject of immigration and identity, it has been abused and misused from time to time, which has raised alarms in all the wrong places.

As recent as last week, two senior Bulgarian officials have been charged with fraud for granting hundreds of passport per month, as per the public prosecutors on the case, calling it the country’s “worst case” of high-level corruption. Last month, the government of the island of Commonwealth of Dominica has sent out warnings against unauthorized discount packages given on behalf of its citizenship by investment program while reiterating the fact that, there hasn’t been and won’t ever be any offer or discount unless specified clearly by the investment unit. Earlier this year, according to The Washington Post, US officials also uncovered a fraud scheme that allowed foreign nationals to enter the country under false identities that were a result of Hungary’s passport system.

As one can imagine, even though some of these accusations are more related to claiming citizenship through falsified lineage, most argue that it has gone unnoticed for so long, as it is hiding under the umbrella of the official residence and citizenship investment programs of these nations. Unlike the aforementioned, others like in the case of the Caribbean nation come as a direct violation of the citizenship and naturalization laws designed by the respective government offices. As it stands, since nations of higher political influence like USA, UK, CANADA and alike are all running one or another form of RCBI programs, nobody seems to be in a position to point fingers without looking like a hypocrite.

So the question is, how can you legally and financially protect yourself from being a victim and a possible collateral damage of these fallouts? Here are 10 points to consider

1.      As of today, there are no officially active citizenship programs for less than USD 100,000. If somebody is offering ‘better’ figures, it is either that they are planning to run away with your money, or even worse, persuading you to commit a crime against a state by falsifying documents or obtaining the correct ones on wrong particulars.

2.      ‘LAWYERS’ are not the ones getting you the required Residency or Citizenship; ‘LAWS’ are. The earlier is just a channel to apply the later. “I have a lawyer who can do this/that” is a common sentence in our market which, more often than not, will end up in disappointment.

3.      Rely on PROGRAMS as they are always based on some form of Act or extract of an Immigration law. There is almost no program around the world which doesn’t have some form of written content stating/implying its existence. Always ask to see these laws or articles if possible.

4.      Passports are not citizenships. Getting a shady Passport book, which was obtained from ‘someone who knows someone’ will not make you a citizen

5.      Don’t forget that citizenship can always be taken away faster than it can be issued if you have somehow misrepresented yourself in the application process.

6.      Know the difference between ACTIVE and PASSIVE investment. Don’t try to twist the law by choosing to stay out of a country while holding active investments.

7.      Most critically, know the difference between TAX residency and RCBI. The right to apply for a residency/citizenship doesn’t necessarily mean you will get it. Understanding this will allow you to manage your legal and financial liabilities.

8.      SKILLED LOTTERY is not a program!!! It is a self-help mechanism for you to relocate to some civilized commonwealth nations. If you don’t have the skills and expertise to manage this platform by yourself, there is a good chance that you won’t survive let alone thrive in a country that you are applying to.

9.      Always ask for an expert advice. This is always going to be one of the most critical decisions you will make on your family’s behalf. Knowing and experiencing some scenarios here and there, will not be enough for you to make this life-changing decision

10.  Try to deal locally, with an authorized agent and an approved service agreement, as much as possible. That will go a long way in minimizing your initial misgivings about these programs while giving you the opportunity to hold someone accountable in unfortunate circumstances.

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