From left: Junaid Janjua, Operations Manager, Global Migrate , Shai Zamanian, Founder and Legal Director, The American Legal Center, Ahmed Karkaba, Business Development Manager, Vazir Group , Sebastian Michael, Director, Uno Capital, David Machado, Co-founder PT Golden Visa, and Rahim Lakhani, CEO, The Lakhani Group

In the post pandemic world when global migration has become the order of the day with families looking for higher happiness quotient, better quality of life and businessmen looking to secure their investments in lucrative and stable options, a second passport has acquired a more significant and imminent relevance globally.

This was the highlight of the second panel discussion on Day One of Gulf News Immigration and Citizenship Exhibition 2022, (GNICE).

Why second passports are relevant

Entitled Top Citizenship Residency Programmes Worth Considering in 2022, the discussion elicited strong traction from the UAE investor and business community participating in the event. Panellists included eminent immigration and citizenship consultant Junaid Juneja, Operations Manager, Global Migrate, Shai Zamanian, Founder and Legal Director, The American Legal Centre, Ahmad Karkaba, Business Development Manager, Vazir Group, Sebastian Michael, Director, Uno Capital, David Machado, Cofounder, PT Golden Visa, and Rahim Lakhani, CEO, Lakhani Group.

Caribbean countries as safe havens for citizenship

Top second citizenship destinations for the world have traditionally been countries in the Caribbean Islands, some leading EU countries such as Spain, Malta, Portugal, and the more upmarket countries such as Canada and the US. Closer home, Turkey continues to be a popular option for second passports.

Highlighting the different kinds of programmes across Caribbean countries such as St Kitts, St Lucia, Granada, Nevis, Antigua, Dominica and Granada among others, Michael from Uno Capital enumerated the benefits of the citizenship programmes. “The Caribbean has traditionally been among the most popular second citizenship options since 1983 because of the ease of getting the passport advanced banking practices, good weather, stable economy and due diligence process in place. However, there is no one-size-fits-all category. Those exploring options need to examine the best programme to suit their needs. This is where a good consultant can advise and guide.”

Portugal, the top EU destination

Talking about Portugal, the leading destination for golden visa and second passport in EU, consultants Lakhani and Machado both extolled the benefits, including factors like currency exchange rates, high net worth individuals being assured of a good quality of life, good weather, high quality of education, good health care facilities and high ranking in the world passport index. All these factors make Portugal a top destination despite rising inflation and changes to some procedural requirements for citizenship, they said.

Increasing popularity of Turkey

Talking about other European countries that enjoy a high demand for second passports, Karkaba of the Vazir Group listed Malta, Spain and Turkey, which have attracted nationalities such as Russians, people of Middle Eastern origin and Iranians to the programmes. “Better health care system, access to 140 countries, good weather, and a secure environment are some of the hidden gems that continue to attract people.”

EB-5 fulfilling the American dream

Zamanian from The American Legal Centre spoke about the demand for the coveted EB-5 visa, the most popular and secure pathway to gaining an American passport, which at the cost of an investment of $800,000 is locked in for five years and continues to attract great interest from the business community.

Zamanian said, “The EB-5 programme is the fastest way to gain citizenship in the US. With new legislations and better transparency in the system, this programme, which provides a family including the spouse and minor children, US citizenship has been very popular. It provides the right to free education and healthcare to applicants and now, a system for concurrent application filing for GCC countries, which cuts back waiting time.”

New Canadian immigration categories

Karkaba also enlisted the benefits of some of the new immigration categories for Canadian migration. “The new startup visa, innovative business programme and the facility for minor shareholders in a company to apply for Intra Country Transfer (ICT) while setting up a branch in Canada opened up new avenues for people in senior age groups in the category of 40-55 years.”

Choose your country and consultant wisely

It was evident that people looking for a second home, safer and more conducive places in the world now have a bouquet of options to choose from. All panellists agreed that individuals and families needed to first understand their own needs and seek out the right consultant who could guide them astutely on their path to second citizenship.