Year 2017. American investment guru Jim Rogers, speaking at Henley & Partners' Global Residency and Citizenship conference in Hong Kong, says: "In the next twenty years, being stuck with a single passport could lead to a lot of suffering."
Three years later, the surprise: his prediction has come true. Under the unprecedented situation created by the COVID-19 virus, the vast majority of advanced countries have made decisions focused on their internal security. This has led to a decline in the world economy, significantly reduced global mobility and restricted the freedom of individuals to make the best decisions for their businesses and families.
In short: as Jim Rogers used to say, being stuck with just a passport can become a nightmare. And diversifying your citizenship has suddenly become an extremely valuable asset.
The resurgence of the borders came from before
It is not just a matter of COVID-19. Before the pandemic, many countries, driven by the wave of xenophobia and national-populism that has taken over international politics, began to modify their approaches to global mobility and global governance. The broader effects of this trend are likely to be seen only in the long term. As in the case of Brexit, a process of which we are now seeing some of the consequences.
The dynamic is not unique to Britain: other European countries, such as France, Italy, Hungary, or Poland have pronounced Euroskeptic movements. Nor is it a phenomenon that concerns Europe alone. Trump, Bolsonaro, or Duterte are clear international examples of the absence of respect for global governance.
The volatility resulting from such policies and upheavals can quickly affect a country's economy. There is the example of Hong Kong, whose economy has been affected since the passage of the new national security law in June 2020. And all this only increased the demand for a way out. In this case, for another passport. COVID-19 has produced a take-off of that interest.
Protectionist policies soar after pandemic
For although many states have already eased their closures, the ripple effect of the pandemic on the closedness of states has been noticeable. Global trade and the international movement of people, as we knew them, are now under threat. Doubts have grown about the ability of international institutions to manage global crises. So have nationalism, xenophobia, self-first. And the consequence of all this is that many countries are considering regaining some of the sovereignty they believe they have lost in the midst of a globalized system.
As a result, global mobility is likely to be hampered for some time to come. Even greater hurdles are likely to appear, stones in the road that will restrict access to foreign markets and to the most favorable jurisdictions and healthcare systems.
So for some time now, but especially since the outbreak of the pandemic, securing future access to multiple residency options and/or having dual citizenship - whether by exploring one's ancestry or participating in residency and citizenship by investment programs - has become essential for entrepreneurs, investors and their families. The second passport as a means to mitigate volatility and reduce exposure to national, regional and global risk.
When governments around the world were forced to take drastic measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 within their territories, few hands shook. Even to the point of breaking international law. Australia refused in May to allow thousands of Australians to return home if they had been in India for two weeks or more before returning home.
If he had another passport, the Australian citizen in question could seek refuge in another country. Without a passport, you are destined to the bureaucratic limbo of having no country other than the one that won't let you in.
Another case: during the first coronavirus closure, the borders were closed and controls were reintroduced at the internal borders of the EU, let alone the external ones. It was notorious the case of some American tourists who, having arrived in the Mediterranean, tried to enter Corsica as if it were 2017. With their passport made in USA and without problems. But no. The people in question had no choice but to return to their country of origin: the USA.
Let's imagine now that it's not a vacation, but a crucial matter of life and death, a business too important to lose. Here, a European passport would be a priceless asset. It would be the difference between being able to enter the EU — with its systems of health, finance, education, economy and legal security — or staying at the gates. Again, in bureaucratic limbo.
That is why diversifying citizenship has been a key element for years, but especially in the post-Covid world that awaits us around the corner.
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