Along with art and jewels, the rich now collect passports

Robert Frank says that it’s been called diversification of passport portfolios. Stock, real estate portfolios, and other forms of investment are not enough for the wealthy investors that they want to maintain passport portfolios now. The. Investors can gain citizenship of a country upon a few specific years of residency and investment in government bonds, property etc. In some cases like Malta, there is no residency requirement; hence it has benefitted the most. There are even some fast-track programs upon higher payment. Countries like Britain, Australia etc. have adopted such practices. They claim to be selling settlement, not citizenship. 

Read an excerpt of the article written by Robert Frank:

Along with stock and real estate portfolios, the global rich are now buying a new form of economic security: passport portfolios. Wealthy investors from around the world are increasingly shopping for visas or citizenship in other countries, hoping for a personal hedge against volatile governments or economies in their home countries. A vast majority are new millionaires and billionaires from emerging-market countries, especially China, Russia and countries in the Middle East. Often, they are shopping for passports or entree to Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia. Experts estimate that these ‘‘economic citizens’’ are spending $2 billion a year on second or third passports and visas. Demand is so strong that governments around the world have started an arms race of sorts for V.I.P. visas, offering ever-faster residencies and passports for ever-higher prices. Over the past year, Britain and several other European countries, along with Australia and Canada, have raised the prices or investment requirements of their so-called golden visas and created a new fast lane for citizenship. ‘‘Wealthy people in fragile countries want to have a second option in a more stable country,’’ said Christian H. Kalin, group chairman of Henley & Partners, a citizenship advisory firm based in London. ‘‘The wealthy already diversify their assets for protection. Now they want to make sure their residency is diversified as well. Why not have a portfolio of passports, too?’’ Opponents say the programs have a downside, including the potential to offer safe harbor to people who made their fortune through corruption or illegal activities. Others say that at a time when immigration and inequality are heated political topics, V.I.P. visas amount to selling citizenship to the rich without bringing many broader benefits to the host country. ‘‘These programs bring huge benefits to the Russian oligarchs or the various Chinese wanting to benefit from the rule of law, good educations and robust capital markets,’’ said David Metcalf, chairman of the British government’s Migration Advisory Committee and a professor emeritus at the London School of Economics. ‘‘But the fundamental question is, What does everyone else get out of it?’’ Last year, Viviane Reding, then the European Commission’s vice president for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, put it more bluntly in a speech, saying, ‘‘Citizenship must not be up for sale.’’ Even as criticism mounts, governments are cashing in. One of the biggest winners is Malta. ...Read more