Very Expensive Passports. How Much Does a Citizenship Cost and is it Possible to Trade it on?

How Much Does a Citizenship Cost and is it Possible to Trade it onIn 1850, Alexander Herzen, a Russian political refugee, was forced to think about acquiring some other citizenship inasmuch as Nicholas I, the Emperor of Russia, ordered Herzen to come back to Russia immediately. However, being a socialist, who had been exiled several times, he did not like this idea at all. It was dangerous for him to be a subject of the native state and Alexander Ivanovych, a strong Democrat, chose a new homeland for himself: he became a peasant with the feudal tenant-owing obligation in labour in the small village of Châtel (now it is town of Burg) near Murten, Switzerland.  In “My Past and Thoughts”, he was recollecting:

“Schaller (Then-President of Freiburg canton, a man close to Herzen’s political way of thinking) promised Vogt to make efforts of my naturalization that meant to find a community, who promised to accept me and then to support the case at the Grand Council. In order to undergo naturalization in Switzerland, any village or city community should previously agree to admit a new fellow citizen. This is absolutely agreed with the autonomy law of each canton and town in their turn. The village of Châtel near Morat (Murten) agreed to reckon my family among their peasant families after a small monetary contribution would be paid to the benefit of the rural community.”

Herzen safely obtained the citizenship and after a time he even visited “his” village, where he was so drunk with the local wine that he overslept the thunderstorm on the way back and “who knows how, he travelled from Morat to Freiburg in the pouring rain”.  Soon Herzen draw up a will, according to which he transferred five thousand francs to Châtel community and he bequeathed 25 thousand francs to Julian Schaller and Professor Vogt. The will was executed after the author’s death in 1870. Herzen has never lived in Switzerland.

By standards of 1850, the problem of Herzen was exotic because he was perhaps the only well-heeled Russian having an open confrontation with the Emperor.  Today there are far more such Herzens and they do not need to go in a barouche from Freiburg to Châtel. For example, you can buy a house at a cost of not less than 450 thousand US dollars in the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis, an island-country in the Caribbean. The country is included in the British Commonwealth of Nations so, in your pocket, you have the passport permits visa-free travels to 131 countries.  You do not have to visit the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis.  You may get passport for a lesser amount, and then you should pay 250-300 thousand US dollars to St. Kitts & Nevis Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation. The Immigrant Investor Programme (which is a programme to acquire the Saint Kitts and Nevis passport and visa-free travel in exchange of investments) has been worked since 1984.

Under the same scheme, you may acquire passports of other remarkable countries in exchange of investments:

Antigua and Barbuda is an island state in the Caribbean and a member of the British Commonwealth. In order to obtain a citizenship you should make the financial contribution of 250 000 US dollars to the National Development Foundation of Antigua & Barbuda or purchase the property (full ownership) that costs 400 000 US dollars minimum. After obtaining the citizenship, you must live on the island not less than seven days a year. The holder of Antigua and Barbuda passport can travel to 129 countries without a visa. The citizenship application process takes around 4-6 months.

The Dominican Republic is also located in the Caribbean. Obtaining the Dominican Republic passport and citizenship is paid by a direct payment to the state: from 100 000 US dollars per person to 200 000 US dollars per family with two minor children (if there more family members you should pay 50 000 US dollars for each additional kin). The holder of the Dominican Republic passport may visit 50 + countries without a visa, including the UK.

Dominica (which is not to be confused with the Dominican Republic) is a state on the island of the same name at the group of the Lesser Antilles in the Caribbean. The island lies in the southeast of Guadeloupe and in the northwest of Martinique. Since 1993 the citizenship and passport of Dominica may be obtained in the exchange of investment of 100 000 US dollars made per person and it is not compulsory to live on the island, although it must be convenient as Dominica official language is English.

Saint Lucia, which is located not far from Martinique, has started to offer its citizenship in the exchange of investment to the amount of 100 000 US dollars and more since 2016. Santa Lucia passport guarantees visa-free travel to the countries of Schengen, Great Britain, Ireland, almost the whole of South America.

It is possible to gain the citizenship of Singapore – you must just have 2 million US dollars in the bank account and annual income of at least 160 million per year. Nevertheless, it is Singapore!

Member States of European Union also offer their citizenship in exchange for investment

Malta was the first country, which opened up this direction of the “economic development”. Just pay 880 000 US dollars per person and the whole family will be a happy holder of the EU passport. One can even go for work to Germany tomorrow.

In 2011, analogues schemes were introduced by Austria, Hungary and Cyprus. Austria does not disclose its citizenship value, but it requires from the applicants to have special talents or extraordinary success stories in the past. You may become a citizen of Hungary for 360 000 Euro, Cyprus requires 2500000 Euro.

There are investment programs for offering a citizenship in many other countries – from Latvia to the UK, Canada and the USA. Nevertheless, according to such programs one should live in the country   several years, during which the investor is granted a residency permit and a citizenship a few years after. Actually, after a while you may gain citizenship in the usual way free of charge if, of course, you manage to think up how to arrive into the country and obtain a work permit.

Is it possible to offer a citizenship in exchange for investment from the political point of view?

There are two schools of thought on the matter: yes and no.

The advocates of offering citizenship in exchange for investment invoke such ground as Diogenes, the ancient Greek cynic, was the first, who proclaimed himself a “cosmopolitan” that is a citizen of the world.  Really, which is the basic reason that one person was born a subject of the Queen of Denmark and the other – a citizen of Nigeria? Joseph Carens, a Canadian philosopher, once characterized the very concept of citizenship in its present form as a “modern equivalent of feudal privileges.” This proof-point is also used by businessmen engaged in marketing of the Caribbean island states’ citizenship: if you are a US businessman doing a business in the Netherlands you would better have the Malta citizenship than obtain   various permits from the authorities hundreds of times. All people are equal by nature. Who would stop Gerard Depardieu if it were more profitable for him to pay taxes in Russian Russia than in France?  In this point, the citizenship is firmly connected with the idea of ​​the state: the less state is the better for Pavel Durov or Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin, renounced his U.S. citizenship in favour of Singaporean.

Political concept of the citizenship stands against the idea of individuals who not tied to anything. The sources of such idea are also found in antiquity, say in KRITO, which is a dialogue by Plato, Socrates awaiting for execution in prison cell tells to his students that he will not escape from the Athenian prison to stay alive because there are things much more important than his life, namely this is an oath to be abide by the laws of his polis. This concept of citizenship is based on both the political, social and cultural participation of a citizen in the life of his country and on his responsibility for the present and future of the country. It is the idea of citizenship, which is a foundation for the law in the European countries.

Alexander Herzen was following this concept. He justified his acquisition of the Swiss citizenship in exchange for investments by the impossibility to come back to Russia as he felt himself a true citizen of this country.

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