Certain countries have rules and regulations imposed on travelers who wish to either stay in the country or visit it.
More and more expatriates living in the UAE are looking to buy a second passport as they seek to travel freely and improve tax planning and security.
According to Dubai-based Citizenship Invest, there has been a spike in interest in acquiring residency rights from people originating from Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and Palestine.
The increase in demand was observed after the European nations and United States implemented stringent immigration policies. It was back in 2017 when US president Donald Trump ordered a ban on travelers from Muslim-majority countries.
Second passports, which are being offered by countries like Malta and those in the Caribbean in exchange for an investment, have been rising in popularity among affluent individuals, as they provide visa-free entry to a number of states, including those in Schengen and European Union.
Many of such programmes also enable investors to legally obtain residency or citizenship rights in less than six months without having to move outside the UAE, but they come with a hefty cost, and in many cases, an applicant needs to set aside between Dh360,000 to more than Dh5 million.
Among Syrian expatriates in the UAE alone, the number of people looking to sign up for such programmes increased by 20% in 2017 compared to 2016, while applications from Lebanese went up by 17%, Iraqis by 10% and Palestinians by 9%.
A similar trend can also be noted during the first few weeks of the year, and more than half (57%) of those who are eager to get a new citizenship are families, according to Citizenship Invest, which assists individuals in obtaining residency rights in foreign countries.
Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of Citizenship Invest, said it is the need for travel freedom, better security for family members and business interests, among others, that are driving a number of expats to secure a second passport.
“Visa-free travel, family security, expanding businesses, preservation of wealth and double tax agreements are some of the few benefits that these individuals wish to attain when looking for an alternative citizenship,” she said.
“The fact that investors can obtain a second passport in less than six months without having to move to any of these countries is essential for our clients when applying. This relieves them from needing to migrate and disrupt their lives and businesses.”
Citizenship Invest clarified that the increase in demand can also be attributed to the latest amendments in the citizenship legislation of countries with the most popular citizenship programmes among Middle East investors, such as Saint Kitts & Nevis, Commonwealth of Dominica, and Antigua & Barbuda.
The new changes have effectively decreased the application costs by 50%, which have made it a much more accessible process.