Buying citizenship is totally a thing. Here’s what you need to know:
According to the International Monetary Fund, more and more countries have begun to offer both economic and political safe havens for people around the world. There are economic programs that allow foreigners to simply buy citizenship, or at the very least a residency permit. The only requirement: enough money to pay for buying citizenship in the countries.
There are a number of countries that have had this option for decades now. The island of St. Kitts and Nevis has had this program in place since 1984. There are no residency requirements, and the qualification period for residency is immediate. All you have to do is pay $250,000 USD. You can obviously choose between free and clear home ownership in the Poconos, or a Nevis passport.
Canada has had a similar program—both in mainland Canada and Prince Edward Island—since the mid-1980s. On the mainland, you can pay $800,000 Canadian dollars, while residency on Prince Edward Island costs just $300,000 Canadian dollars. You must live in Canada for no less than 730 days within a 5-year period, and you will only qualify for the citizenship after 3 years.
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The U.S. is actually one of the countries where buying citizenship is possible. Since 1990, you simply have to pay $500,000 and spend 180 days out of every year in the country, and you can be a U.S. citizen. However, the qualification period is 7 years, so there is a bit of a wait. No more green card drama.
In the UK, it costs 1 million British Pounds to purchase citizenship, and the wait period is 6 years. You also must live within the UK for no less than 185 days out of every year. Since 1994, this has allowed a lot of wealthy foreigners to buy UK citizenship.
More countries offering this option include Spain, Portugal, Australia, France, Ireland, New Zealand, and Switzerland. The price of citizenship ranges from $100,000 USD (in the Dominican Republic) to 250,000 Euros (in Greece) up to 10 million Euros (in France). In Switzerland, you pay 250,000 Swiss Francs PER YEAR. Every country has their own requirements, as well as a waiting period that ranges from immediate (in Cyprus, Grenada, and the Dominican Republic) to 10 years (in Latvia). Who is trying to live in Latvia, though? That’s what we want to know.
The option of “buying citizenship” exists to encourage wealthy foreigners to invest in the country. Developers and moguls from overseas may be more willing to spend money in a country if they are granted citizenship. The money flowing from these “citizenship purchases” have contributed to the economic development of the countries that allow it. As an example, the economic citizenship program in St. Kitts and Nevis increased the amount of money flowing into their public sector by a staggering 25% in the year 2013 alone. The Caribbean and European countries participating in this program are also seeing similar benefits.
Granted, this option of simply buying citizenship does bring many questions about security risks, as well as transparency issues. There is also the fear that depending on these capital inflows may stifle economic growth. However, the option does offer citizens of other countries a way to improve their life by moving to nations where they can take advantage of an improved economic situation.