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  • COVID-19 Travel Restrictions: How a Second Passport Can Make a Difference

    One of the greatest COVID-19 downturns is the international travel restrictions that abruptly halted business, family reunions, and study trips worldwide. Apart from the general travel bans at the beginning of the crisis, there were more restrictions against nationals from epicenter countries. However, while the whole world was at a standstill, individuals with dual citizenship were still able to travel between at least two countries. This shows that having a second passport can make international travel much easier, especially during a pandemic or any type of crisis. Though the COVID-19 restrictions have largely been relaxed, international travel hasn’t returned to its pre-pandemic state, which means a second passport still remains a big advantage. 

    Keep reading on to learn more about the various ways through which you can leverage dual citizenship for international trips during a crisis:

    Ease of Movement

    The coronavirus pandemic has shown that no matter how strong a passport is, some situations can still make its carriers helpless. At the peak of the crisis, many countries, including those with the so-called top passport privilege, experienced high-level restrictions due to high COVID-19 rates in those countries. For example, at some point, U.S. citizens could only travel to nine countries without restrictions. It was a shocking reality for a country that boasts one of the world’s strongest passports which grants access to 184 countries visa-free or visa-on-arrival. It was a tough time being an American citizen, especially for people who have important reasons to travel abroad. Apart from the United States, many other first-world countries experienced similar scenarios.

    Having a second passport from another country will improve your ability to move about during any crisis, as you would face fewer restrictions. Apart from this, dual citizenship has always been a great privilege, because it increases the number of countries you can enter visa-free. For example, British citizenship gives visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 185 destinations. Countries like Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Canada, and the United States also have strong passports that give access to several destinations across the world. Many Caribbean countries, such as St. Kitts and Nevis, Barbados, and the Bahamas, also boast of similar high passport privileges. Becoming a citizen of any of these countries will significantly improve your international travel experience, as you’ll be able to move around more easily.

    Family Ties

    Everyone wants to be with their family during a crisis. Unfortunately, international travel restrictions can be a barrier to that. As witnessed at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, travel restrictions left many people separated from their loved ones. A report by France24 shows that many international students in France were stranded, far away from their families. Some of them had to rely on food banks and experienced great isolation and loneliness during lockdowns.

    Thousands of couples in long-distance relationships, married and unmarried, were also separated. The movement restrictions also made it so that many parents had to be away from their children for a long period of time. Being away from family members for a long time, especially in a pandemic, can increase the risks of mental health problems. For example, surveys showed that COVID-19 produced an alarming increase in loneliness across the U.S., with children and young adults being the worst hit. While many families tried to stay connected with video calling apps and other digital tools, the physical separation still had a huge toll on many people’s wellbeing. Becoming a citizen of a country where you have strong family ties will always help you stay close to your loved ones.

    Medical Trips

    A second passport can be leveraged for health purposes as well, especially for individuals who make regular international medical trips. A report by the American Journal of Medicine shows that more than 1.4 million Americans sought health care in different countries in 2017. Costs and varying health regulations are among the reasons for the rising global health tourism rate. For instance, heart bypass surgery costs $210,000 in the United States, compared to $12,000 in Thailand. Also, some health tourists travel abroad to undergo medical procedures that aren’t allowed or available in their own countries.

    Unfortunately, with COVID-19 travel restrictions, most countries shut their doors against medical tourists, thereby denying them much-needed medical services. People who rely on such trips for their wellbeing were forced to seek alternatives locally, which could mean less-desirable results.

    Business Purposes

    COVID-19 travel restrictions halted commercial activities across various industries for several months and brought the global economy to its knees. A report from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) shows that the global air transport industry lost $84.3 billion in 2020 due to travel restrictions. Becoming a citizen of a country where you have business ties can eliminate such restrictions during a crisis.

    Apart from that, a second passport has always been an excellent tool for business growth for international entrepreneurs. For instance, many countries restrict some of their most lucrative industries to citizens only, limiting foreigners’ participation in such businesses. In some places, foreign investors are allowed to own a business but are restricted from freehold property ownership. Some countries also offer their citizen-owned businesses great tax incentives which aren’t open to foreign nationals. This ability to own a business and properties is one of the leading motivations for the increasing dual citizenship applications among international entrepreneurs.

    Citizenship by Naturalization

    Naturalization is an age-long immigration and citizenship route that exists in most countries around the world. Requirements for naturalization range from close family relationships with a citizen, employment or investment in some industries, and years of residency in a country. Many people determine the strength of a passport by the number of destinations it can access without a visa. However, this may not always be the best yardstick, as we all have different needs for dual citizenship. While many first-world countries like Japan, Singapore, Germany, U.K., U.S., and Canada rank high on the passport index, roads to citizenship in those places can be stringent, long, or expensive. This explains why many people are exploring countries with lesser application requirements. Many of these countries have great economic potentials and are top tourist and business destinations.

    Countries with Easy and Affordable Citizenships

    Examples of countries with easy and affordable citizenship include St Kitts and Nevis, Dominica Republic, Malta, and Grenada. Many of these countries offer citizenship by investment or donations. For instance, in St Kitts and Nevis, you can become a citizen within two months by making a $150,000 donation into a Sustainable Growth Fund or a property investment worth $200,000. The country’s passport offers access to 156 countries visa-free, including the E.U., U.K., Russia, and almost all South American countries.

    With a Maltese passport, you can enter 184 destinations visa-free or visa-on-arrival. The country has three citizenship routes: a donation of $778,000, a real estate investment of $418,000, or an investment of $179,000 in bonds or stocks. You must have physically resided in Malta for at least 12 months to become eligible. You can become a Dominican Republic citizen within 2-3 months with a $100,000 donation or a property investment of $200,000. The country’s passport offers visa-free access to 137 countries. Other countries with great easy citizenship routes include Ireland, Portugal, New Zealand, Grenada, Armenia, and Israel.

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