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Citizenship by descent for the international investor

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Citizenship by descent for the international investor

Getting a new citizenship and an extra passport can grant you additional freedoms and security. While investment is in some countries a straightforward fast-track to citizenship, in many cases you can also apply for citizenship by descent.

Citizenship by descent

Normally, you become a citizen of a country if you are born there and your parents were also citizens. At the same time, citizenship usually does not get revoked simply if someone emigrates. In line with this, many countries consider the children of emigrants their citizens too – or at least offer options for fast-track citizenship to descendants who want to return and renew their bond with their ancestral home.

Citizenship by descent offers the same privileges as regular citizenship or citizenship by investment. You will be able to get a passport that grants you visa-free access to the same countries your new fellow citizens have access to, you can find a home for yourself and your family in a new environment, take advantage of the local infrastructure and public facilities, and explore options and benefits of tax residency.

If you are familiar with the rules for tax residency in your country of residence and in the countries where you are eligible for citizenship by ancestry, you can create a citizenship portfolio that can help you optimize your taxes while minimize your time worrying about visas and residence permits. You can see a successful example by Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea FC. He was born in Russia, but now he is also a citizen of Portugal and Israel, while he continues to spend most of his time in the UK.

Where can I become a citizen based on my lineage?

While many countries offer citizenship to descendants of their citizens, requirements for eligibility, procedures, and processing times show considerable variation. The first step towards creating an optimized citizenship portfolio that includes citizenship by descent is to know your family tree. Genealogy research can help, but the more pointers you can give the researcher, the more effective the research will be. Once you know where you are eligible, you should consider which citizenship offers the most benefits – while you can still check whether the country of your interest offers citizenship by investment that is more favorable.

In Europe, the countries with the most favorable options for citizenship by descent include Bulgaria, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxemburg, and Poland. (You can find an interactive map of all options here.) When comparing them against your lineage, you should consider the number of generations eligible, whether they allow dual citizenship, and the processing time. For example, Hungary is among the most attractive options, since there is not limit as to how far you can trace your lineage back, while dual citizenship is allowed, and processing time is just around 1 year.

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