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IF YOU FLEE U.S. citizenship in early November, have I got a plan for you! The September 22, 2016, issue of London Review of Books has “Our Citizenship is Expensive!” by Kristin Surak, a review of the book The Cosmopolites: The Coming of the Global Citizen.
Kristin Surak’s review identifies places where citizenship is a highly marketable commodity. In fact, in more than a few of these countries, it’s a significant portion of their Gross Domestic Product, even with a corporate vig deducted.
If all you want is residency, not a bona fide passport, it’s even easier. Observes reviewer Surak, “For a £2 million investment in U.K. government bonds or shares in a U.K. company, the well-heeled can purchase a Tier 1 Investor Visa, and secure the right to reside in Britain. Another £3 million will lower the waiting time for permanent residence and citizenship.”
Nor is the U.S. out of the citizenship market: Notes Surak, “Under the U.S.’s EB-5 programme, an investment of $500,000 into a business venture in a region of high unemployment (Beverly Hills qualifies) will secure a visa which allows its holder to live in the U.S. and apply for permanent citizenship after two years.”
For impatient types (or the election disgruntled), there are plenty of other countries around the world marketing citizen$hip. For example, St. Kitts and Nevis are an ex-Brit island pair in the eastern Caribbean. Its Citizenship Act of 1984 is exploited today by Chris Kalin, described by Surak as a “Swiss-Maltese-Kittitian-New Zealander.”
Kittitian citizenship comes 90 days after a background check plus either a donation of $200,000 or real estate investment of $400,000. Kalin’s company gets a 10-percent vig; St. Kitts tacks on another $50,000 processing fee.
Surak notes, “For St. Kitts, the passport deal has brought about an economic miracle. Manufacturing makes up 5 percent of the country’s GDP; passports now contribute nearly 25 percent, which is more than tax revenues.”
According to Bloomberg sources, the citizenship industry generates $2 billion annually around the world. Surak observes, “Over the past five years, Antigua, Malta, St. Lucia and Dominica have joined existing programmes in Cyprus and Grenada.” A thriving one in the Union of the Comoros, an island nation off the coast of southeast Africa, is also detailed in the LRB article.
Marketing is very much part of the industry: Swiss-Maltese-Kittitian-New Zealander Kalin says, “We position St. Kitts and Nevis as a viable product.”
Surak notes that, up until around 40 years ago the concept of citizenship was a vague one in much of the Persian Gulf, for example. Before that time, many of its people were rural and nomadic, generally accountable only to local rulers. Even today, the Bidoon (not to be confused with Bedouins) are those born and raised in the United Arab Emirates or Kuwait who are stateless because their families failed to obtain citizenship when the concept was introduced decades ago.
Pity these Bidoon folk who aren’t UAE citizens. According to Surak, each male citizen of this oil-rich country gets “a stipend of around $55,000 a year, land to build a house on, an interest-free mortgage, a marriage bonus of $20,000 and free healthcare and education.”
Before losing sleep on any indirect contribution you may make to this beneficence, be aware that the U.S. buys no more than 0.0016 of its world petroleum imports from UAE. This is less than 1 percent of our Persian Gulf imports, and the Persian Gulf portion is only 17 percent of our total petroleum imports.
But that, as they say, is another story. ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2016