For many people, having a second passport is a major step towards achieving a new level of freedom. With the trend of acquiring dual-citizenship on the rise, more and more highly mobile high net worth individuals and families take the opportunity with citizenship by investment programs provided by different countries, especially in the Caribbean.
These programs not only became a viable option to attain permanent residency if desired but also a way to gain access to visa-free travel to hundreds of countries around the world. That said, deciding to apply for a second passport is a major decision and should be handled with the utmost care and consideration.
It is important to thoroughly research the options and consult with citizenship and residency specialists if you can. Let’s look at some of the major errors to avoid:
1. Choosing the Wrong Country
The first decision you will be facing when applying for a second passport is choosing a country to apply to. There are many things you need to consider, so you should take your time and think about how you’ll benefit from getting your application approved.
For example, one country offers citizenship by investment at a lower amount than others but provides a visa-free pass to only a handful of countries. If your purpose for applying for a second passport is to avoid applying for visas to feed your wanderlust or business needs, then this country is the wrong choice for you.
The Caribbean is home to several countries that offer great perks for second passport holders, including Antigua and Barbuda. Applying for Antigua citizenship entails investing a minimum of US$200,000 to government-sanctioned real estate or US$400,000 to an approved business, or donating at least US$100,000 to the country’s National Development Fund.
2. Having Erroneous Application Documents
Erroneous documents not only delay second passport applications but also cause rejection. Before filing your application, you should pay attention to even the smallest detail and keep forms as neat as possible. Make sure you don’t cross-out or put any kind of markings onto the papers when filling up forms as even small errors can cause the case managers to request new forms from you.
Many government units assigned to handle such documents also prefer the use of black ink. When the form is available online, it is highly recommended that you fill it out virtually before printing to ensure that the paper remains neat and free of any errors.
As for photos, selfies and other DIY pictures will not suffice. Since you are investing a lot of money and effort into this endeavor, you’d be well advised to work with a Licensed Agent who can guide you through the process.
3. Concealing or Altering Information
Incorrect or missing information can lead to the rejection of your application, so make sure you provide accurate and true details of your background diligently. Any attempt to withhold or change some information— even those that you think authorities won’t look at. Past convictions (even if you’ve been cleared), past visa denials and tax avoidance can serve as grounds for denial of your second citizenship request. And falsification of any information will result in an automatic denial.
4. Investing in a Property “Blindly”
As mentioned earlier, citizenship by investment can be done by investing in real estate. However, major setbacks can arise if you aren’t hands-on with the task.
Some investors tend to forgo visiting the property they are investing in and simply have their agents or assistants process the investment on their behalf only to find out later that the property isn’t as they expected it to be.
To avoid this scenario, always have time to deal with your investments personally. If you visit the country before the investment is done, you’ll even have the chance to assess all your options and see if the country is the right choice for your second citizenship.
5. DIY Passport Application
You should never DIY your second citizenship application. Different programs from different countries can change over the years and, sometimes, it can be difficult to keep up. Because of this, you should consider having an expert handle your passport application. They have updated information and extensive experience in dealing with such a task, which means they should have a higher chance of getting your application approved.
6. Hiring the Wrong Agent
One reason why people are tempted to DIY their passport applications is due to incompetent agents. To avoid this mistake, choose a person (or company) that will keep you motivated and focused on your goal rather than appeasing you only to avoid losing your business. Check their testimonials and how much information do they give you to empower you to make the right decision and guide you properly? Have they been assisting clients for some time or are they new to the industry? Are you dealing directly with a Licensed Agent or is there another intermediary involved? Researching your agent is as important as researching the citizenship by investment program.
Apply for Your Second Passport Now
Knowing the potential errors when applying for a second passport can help you avoid them. This is not a new industry and its citizenship and residency programs globally are booming. There are plenty of competent advisors out there, so step one is finding an experienced person you trust to do a stellar job in representing you in your application.
Kal Kennard is a Partner at Citizens International, a white-glove specialist firm offering private client services necessary for citizenship investment into the Caribbean, Canada and Europe. Based in the Caribbean for the past 15 years, she is an experienced consultant who works directly with many professional partners and advises clients worldwide.