Five New And Improved Residency And Second Passport Options—How The Covid-19 Pandemic Is Changing The Global Residency And Citizenship-By-Investment Marketplace
Before the global pandemic, an American passport got you into 184 countries. It was one of the best travel documents you could carry.
Now the world has gotten a lot smaller for U.S. passport-holders, who are permitted entry to but 29 countries. Some 166 countries have decided to bar entry to Americans, fearing those Americans might carry the coronavirus with them, for, while the United States is home to 4% of the world’s population, it has about one-fourth of total global Covid-19 cases and deaths and its handling of the crisis is generally regarded as a fiasco.
An American passport has become one of the least useful of all, right alongside a passport from Afghanistan or Iraq. The need for backup residency and a second passport has become urgent.
In many countries, it is relatively easy to acquire citizenship by naturalization after having been a resident for a certain number of years (usually five). Right now, five years seems like a long time to wait for a backup passport.
A much faster option is offered by citizenship by investment (CIP) programs. The downside to these is the cost, which can be hundreds of thousands of dollars, typically in the form of a donation to the government or a real estate purchase. If you can afford them, these programs allow you to become the proud holder of a new passport within as little as a few months.
Dozens of CIPs are offered by jurisdictions worldwide, and now, in response to economic downturns as a consequence of the global pandemic, existing programs are being made more affordable and new ones are being launched.
Countries from the Caribbean to the Continent are also making it easier to take up full-time residence, offering “Welcome Stamp” and other programs in an attempt to attract foreigners to come live, work remotely, and, critically, spend money. Jurisdictions whose economies rely largely on tourism have been hard hit and hope these easy residency alternatives will allow them to replace at least some of the tourist income they’ve lost.
Here are five pandemic-era options for acquiring a second passport and establishing residency overseas—some new, some existing but offered now at reduced costs by countries looking for creative ways to stabilize their economies:
Reduced Cost CIP In St. Kitts and Nevis
The two-island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis’s CIP is the oldest, launched in 1984, and the base for all other such programs. It offers two paths to a second passport, through a charitable donation to the government or the purchase of authorized real estate.
In response to the pandemic crisis, St. Kitts and Nevis has decided to reduce the required donation amount for its CIP from $195,000 to $150,000 until Dec. 31, 2020. This donation amount qualifies families of up to four members for passports.
The real estate investment minimum remains unchanged, at $200,000.
The St. Kitts and Nevis passport allows travel to 156 countries visa-free.
The two-island nation has received international recognition for its excellent management of COVIC-19, with only 17 confirmed cases and no deaths.
Covid-19 Relief Bond In St. Lucia
St. Lucia has announced a new “Covid-19 Relief Bond” CIP opportunity. This is a $250,000 non-interest-bearing government bond available until Dec. 31, 2020.
In addition, St. Lucia has made these changes to its CIP qualifying options:
- The new donation amount for the National Economic Fund is $140,000 for a couple (previously, this was $165,000).
- The minimum contribution requirement for a family of four is now $150,000 (previously this was $190,000).
- The contribution requirement for any additional dependents is now $15,000 (previously this was $25,000).
St. Lucia’s passport allows travel to 146 countries visa-free.
New Family CIP In Antigua And Barbuda
In March 2013, the Senate of Antigua and Barbuda voted to establish a Citizenship by Investment Program to spur growth in the islands. In May of this year, the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Unit launched an alternative option making it possible to qualify for citizenship via a donation to the University Of The West Indies Fund.
The contribution requirement for a family of six has been reduced from $185,000 to $150,000, making the program significantly more affordable for large families.
Holders of the Antigua and Barbuda passport enjoy visa-free access to 151 countries, including the U.K. and the Schengen Zone.
Barbados Rolls Out The Welcome Mat With 12-Month Welcome Stamp
Barbados officially reopened its borders to international travel on July 12. At the same time, Barbados introduced the 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp, a special visa that allows remote workers the option to live and work in Barbados for up to a year.
The country is inviting digital nomads to come work from its beaches during the pandemic—and they are making things as hassle-free as possible for applicants to take the necessary steps to make that happen. They want you to bring your laptop, soak up the sun, the sea, and the sand, and spend the cash you’re earning virtually locally.
To apply for a Barbados 12-month Welcome Stamp Visa, you submit the following documents electronically:
- Passport-sized photograph
- Bio data page of passport
- Birth certificate
- Proof of relationship of the principal applicant to all other members of the family group (if applicable)
You’ll be required to give a description of the type of work and nature of the business that will generate your income while in Barbados and certify that you expect to earn an income of at least $50,000 or more or that you have the means otherwise to support yourself and your dependents over the 12 months of your stay in the country.
The non-refundable fee for an individual applicant is $2,000; the cost for a family to apply is $3,000.
Digital Nomad Visa In Estonia
On June 3, Estonia’s government approved its Alien Act allowing for a Digital Nomad Visa. It begins taking applications for the program Aug. 1. This will enable location-independent workers, freelancers, start-ups, and entrepreneurs to reside in Estonia for up to 365 days per year while working for employers or clients outside the country.
The visa will be granted for short- and long-term stays. Applicants are required to prove steady remote income of at least 3,504 euros monthly and provide a police background check.
In addition to proving that you’ll be able to generate a minimum level of income working remotely, you’ll need to demonstrate that you qualify under one of these three categories:
- You have a contract to work for a company registered in a foreign country;
- You work for a company that is registered in a foreign country and for which you are a partner or shareholder;
- You offer freelance consulting services to clients whose permanent residences are in a foreign country and with whom you have contracts.
Once approved for the Digital Nomad Visa, you will have access to the EU and the Schengen Zone.
Approximately 1,800 spots are being made available annually. The hope is that the digitally-savvy, high-earning, and skilled nomads this program will attract will potentially contribute millions of euros to the country’s economy without taking jobs away from Estonian citizens.
This new Digital Nomad Visa program complements Estonia’s e-Residency for Entrepreneurs program launched in 2014, the world’s first e-residency program. The country is known for its innovation and vibrant start-up scene and has been touted as “the world’s most digitally advanced society” by Wired Magazine.