Golden passport and visa programs may soon be a thing of the past. These programs allow wealthy individuals to invest a great deal of money into a country, and in exchange, they receive citizenship. Though these programs are thought to help countries fund ongoing projects, they have come under scrutiny recently. This is due to the fact that many people are thought to be using golden passport and visa programs for the wrong reasons. Many countries that offer these programs are now in talks to end them altogether or are looking to significantly change the rules on who can apply.
What is the Purpose of These Programs?
Golden passport and visa programs were created to help fund projects in a country while giving the investor the opportunity to receive citizenship. Those who obtain a golden passport or visa are able to stay in that country for extended periods of time and can more easily conduct business in that country.
But obtaining a golden passport or visa does not come cheap. You have to invest a lot of money into a country to get a golden passport or visa, with most people having to invest anywhere from $100,000 to millions of dollars. Some countries also require that you make annual investments in order to keep your golden passport or visa.
What Countries Offer Golden Passport or Golden Visas?
There’s a long list of countries that offer golden passports or golden visas, including the following:
- New Zealand
- St. Kitts
- St. Lucia
- The United Kingdom
- United Arab Emirates
- United States
What Countries Are Looking to End or Change These Programs?
Many of the countries listed above are looking to end or change their golden passport or golden visa programs. According to CNBC, the United Kingdom, Cyprus, Malta, and Bulgaria are looking to eliminate their golden passport programs, the 12 European Union countries that offer golden visas are looking into either limiting or ending their golden visa programs, and other countries are looking to change their programs by raising the cost of how much money someone must invest to be accepted. There’s no doubt that many countries are going to take a close look at their current programs and consider if they need to be modified or terminated.
Why Could Golden Passports and Visa Programs Be Ending?
Though golden passport and visa programs are meant to help countries fund ongoing or upcoming projects, many people are abusing these programs for their own personal agendas. These programs are being used by people who want to freely travel in and out of countries to perform unethical business acts.
A member of the European Parliament, Sophie In ‘t Veld, shed some more light on why the EU Parliament recently voted to begin phasing out citizenship-by-investment programs, “Passports and golden visa schemes are not about attracting any meaningful legitimate investment in the real economy of Europe. They are designed for shady business, shady money and shady characters.”
Golden passport and visa programs are meant to give citizenship to people genuinely interested in being a citizen of the country they are investing in. Unfortunately, many people are joining these programs for the wrong reasons and taking away from the credibility of these programs. It seems that golden passports and visas may be going towards doing more harm than good, and that’s why many countries are deciding to end their programs or significantly crack down on who can join.
How is the United States Responding?
The United States is taking this matter very seriously and is taking a close look into its own citizenship-by-investment program. One example of how the U.S. is preparing to change its program can be seen in how they are responding to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The U.S. has decided to limit its sales of golden passports so that Russian citizens cannot easily obtain citizenship in the United States.
A joint statement given by the leaders of the European Commission (the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom) stated, “Specifically, we commit to taking measures to limit the sale of citizenship—so called golden passports—that let wealthy Russians connected to the Russian government become citizens of our countries and gain access to our financial systems.”.
As of March 29, 2022, the limitation of golden passport sales in the United States (specifically for Russian citizens) will be in place indefinitely.