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One of the main problems associated with economic citizenship programs is that they are frowned upon by many industrialised nations, who see them as government-sponsored "passports-for-sale" schemes.
Note that this is highly hypocritical: the same countries will often offer passports by discretion -- particularly to the mega-rich, in return for a slice of their taxable income and the inward investment that their citizenship may deliver. Rupert Murdoch, whose media empire is worth a fortune, was granted US citizenship, for example.
Yet the same nations do not care for their Caribbean or Central American neighbours doing the same.
Countries such as Grenada, Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis and Belize, for example, have operated official second citizenship programs. In my opinion, however, there was a fundamental problem with all of them: these nations, hungry for investors' cash, choose to publicise the programs too widely -- and this gave rise to a number of implications.
Freedom to travel is major attraction for many of those who buy into economic citizenship schemes. However, the magic "visa-free" lists that appear alongside these offers can quickly shrink as the number of passports issued increases. After all, the USA, Canada, or European nations may not feel happy about a sudden influx of strangely named visitors from a Caribbean tax haven.
The economic citizenship program of Dominica illustrates this problem. In February 2000, a new political administration under Prime Minister Rosie Douglas suddenly halted the program following complaints from the Canadian government that persons with criminal records were being granted citizenship; Canada also threatened to rescind the visa-free status of Dominicans.
Another example is that of Uruguay's "non-citizen" passport. Uruguay for a time offered a passport for travel purposes only; it did not entitle the bearer to citizenship. This document soon found its way onto a blacklist held by immigration officials as the scheme became more popular and public, and many travellers were refused entry in Europe and elsewhere.
In any case, well-known programs often guarantee extra scrutiny by immigration officials who are well aware of their existence and may suspect something is amiss. If your name, ethnic origin and language skills do not match those of a person typical of your passport-issuing country, be prepared for a long wait at all civilised borders.
An undue level of scrutiny may also be expected in the banking halls of all reputable financial institutions for the same reasons. Bankers nowadays -- with their due diligence procedures to follow -- tend to be as interested in clients' backgrounds as they are in their money.
All this, remember, is with passports and citizenships that are 100% legal!
Despite all the above, even well-known economic citizenship programs cannot be dismissed as useless. Naturally, they come with full residency rights, and many well-off thirld-world individuals and entire families have used them to fulfill their desire to relocate to a more politically and economically stable country than their own.
On the other hand, if you are seriously considering such a move, you should
be aware that there are countries that have citizenship-for-investment schemes
but do not advertise them. A polite enquiry as to whether "any residency
or citizenship incentives may be offered to those willing to invest in the country",
directed to the relevant government department of your chosen destination, might
well get you started.
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