Director of Astons talks about human and capital relocation, second passports and residence permits

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With global instability, any reasonable person starts looking for ways to protect their family, business, savings and generally insure their personal infrastructure. Igor Nemtsov, Director of Astons immigration company in Russia and the UAE, helped us to understand the issues of residence permits, residence permits and second passports.

Astons is a leading law firm specializing in real estate and investment citizenship and residence permit services in Europe, Vanuatu and the Caribbean. With three decades in the market, the company has established itself as a firm capable of providing luxury real estate relocation and investment solutions, as well as quality assistance with tax, education and asset management.

What problems do second passports and residence permits help to solve?

The question is conceptual because the topic of second papers is very correlated with the level of instability in the world. While a roller coaster of economic or political events is present at any time, the industry of obtaining additional citizenships or residency permits was fairly stable until extra-events like the Covid pandemic in 2019 or February’s events in Russia in 2022 began to occur.

Naturally, new risks and geopolitical unrest create the need for any reasonable person to look for ways to protect their family, business, savings, investments and generally diversify their personal infrastructure. Among other solutions for investing and protecting one’s freedoms, there is the tool of obtaining a second passport or residence permit from another country.

What types of programs are available for obtaining a residence permit or second passport?

It is worth noting at once the difference between types of residence – residence permit, residence permit and second citizenship.

  • A residence permit implies obtaining certain rights in the country that issued it and is a temporary document. There are different programs and grounds for issuing such a permit. For example, if a person takes a job, a residence permit allows them to stay in the state while they continue to work. Other programs may involve investment in real estate and/or financial independence that makes the applicant interested in the country’s economy. The residence permit must be renewed and demonstrate that you continue to meet the conditions of the immigration program. For example, you get a residence permit in Greece for buying an apartment. Their sale will result in the loss of residency status. Each program has its own rules to keep in mind.
  • CoML is a more permanent status, which is already less dependent on compliance with any conditions.
  • Residence permit and residence permit are domestic statuses that globally do not give anything outside the state in which they were issued. Perhaps the only exception is the European Union, in which countries have essentially exchanged sovereignty, and the residence permit allows for some privileges in a number of countries within the Schengen area. For example, the residence permits of Greece, Spain, Portugal and other countries that are part of the Schengen zone allow you to stay in the territory of the union without visas. But the Cyprus residence permit does not give such a right, at least not yet.
  • Citizenship is the most fulfilling status. A passport defines your rights not only inside the state, but also outside the state (you are a citizen of a certain country all over the world). This document carries many more rights, but also many more responsibilities. In addition to the long and standard options for obtaining citizenship, there are also quicker ones – for investments, for example, in real estate, or for a contribution to the country’s economy (most often non-refundable), there are also options for investing money in investment funds or some rare alternatives.

Top 5 most successful and popular programs

It’s almost impossible to single out the top 5 now, as there are only about that many of them. But we can designate the most effective and available for Russian citizens – it is certainly citizenship of Turkey and Vanuatu, Cyprus, and separately I would single out residence permit in Greece as the most effective program in Europe for Russians.

The fifth option is Portugal as the only possibility to apply for a residence permit in Europe with theoretical obtaining of a passport without permanent residence.

What should I pay attention to when choosing a program? How do you make the right decision?

First of all, you need to formulate your internal request and the tasks you want to solve. An investment in having a “reserve airfield” or “safe harbor” could be Turkey. If you want to get a summer home and residence permit in Europe, which also allows you to have access to European accounts or unfreeze them, it is worth paying attention to the southern countries – Cyprus and Greece.

The fastest option (“fastest passport”) that will allow for other paperwork, infrastructure building, international treaties and no fear of being rejected is Vanuatu. The paperwork can be processed in 2-4 months for a donation to a government fund. The Pacific Republic uses the investment to pay off its foreign debt, as well as for social needs, construction, and health care.

In St. Kitts and Nevis, a Caribbean country, the first time a portion of the dividends from the program was paid to locals was in 2022. Funds are often used for hurricane and tsunami relief. In both the Caribbean and the Pacific, this, alas, sometimes happens.

Investors used to get a second passport for visa-free travel, today the motivation is much broader. Alternative citizenship has become a self-value – a tool to mitigate geopolitical risks. Some people are asked to show their second passport in a foreign bank, some people do not want to renew their work contract or extend their residence permit where they have been living for several years because of the “wrong passport” (we have seen such cases in Latvia and Lithuania, for example).

The cases are many and they tend to be individualized. For example, citizens of Belarus are now in a unique situation: it is now impossible to extend or obtain a passport in diplomatic missions. But not everyone can or wants to return to their home country. Second citizenship is a way out, because the risk of being left without a valid ID is high.

Once the request is formed, the work of experts and consultants follows to help match your desires with existing opportunities. Maybe there aren’t products out there right now that fulfill your request or vice versa – there are, but they’re not the ones you were thinking of.

Now is the time for creative solutions: many citizenship and residence permit programs are closed for citizens of the Russian Federation and Belarus, so many investors are considering combined options. For example, get a passport Vanuatu (for 128 thousand dollars) and then, already as a citizen of the Pacific Republic participate in the program of residence permit of Greece, which does not accept Russians directly.

Greece is the most affordable residence permit program through real estate in Europe. You can get a residence card and all rights for the purchase of apartments or houses from 250 thousand euros. The total time frame for the two programs is no more than 7-8 months.

In comparison, Turkish citizenship requires a minimum investment of $400,000 or more and takes about a year. Sometimes two immigration products are more beneficial and faster than one.

The demand for second citizenship and residence permits is growing not only among Russians. Americans make up just about the largest group of those who participate in investment immigration programs. They are popular in the UK market as well. Today, the need for a Plan B has become more acute no matter how far we are from the world’s points of tension.

Read more about relocation programs on the Astons website.

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