Whether they want to leave the U.S., move out of the U.S. to another country or just have the option to move abroad some day, many Americans are suddenly looking into how to get a second passport or citizenship that will allow them to live in another country. The reasons range from the Supreme Court’s recent decision on abortion rights, to safety concerns, to politics, to just wanting a cheaper place to live.
“The great American dream was very real during the 20th century but in recent years, more and more North Americans have become disillusioned about the great American dream,” says Eric Major, CEO of Latitude, a company that helps individuals and families find the right options for pursuing an additional passport to 80+ countries around the world. From 2019 to 2022, Latitude has seen a 2,000% increase in Americans seeking second residency or citizenship by investment. And the numbers have shot up in recent months. Since June 24, when the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, Get Golden Visa’s website has recorded a threefold increase in visits from the United States.
Indeed, Americans are more disgruntled than ever, according to Nuri Katz, founder of Apex Capital Partners, a boutique financial advisory firm specializing in advising international individuals on second citizenship—and it’s on both sides of the political aisle. “High net worth individuals think the situation is so bad in America right now that it actually sounds worse than it is in Russia,” says Katz, who has worked with Russians looking for second citizenship in the past.
Get Golden Visa recently issued a whitepaper called “The Great American Exodus” and did a survey to explore why people are motivated to look for a second residency outside the U.S. The company found that more and more Americans are opting to leave the country for social and political reasons and—for some—having a Plan B for their life is the main motivation. “We are seeing political decision-making create tectonic shifts in movement, where the desire to find a better life, move away from political restrictions or onerous tax regimes is creating a new tribe of nomads the world over,” says Murat Coskun, founder and managing partner of Get Golden Visa.
The good news is that many countries around the world welcome Americans—for a price—with citizen by investment programs and golden visa programs that grant residency and a second passport. Take the case of one Latitude client, a multi-millionaire private equity director in upstate New York. “He initially approached us in January 2022 considering Dominica citizenship by investment or Portugal’s golden visa residency by investment, as he wants to relocate due to growing safety concerns in the U.S.,” says Eric Major, CEO of Latitude. “Given the recent Roe v. Wade decision, he decided to go ahead with Antigua and Barbuda citizenship by investment, as it gave him a real estate investment option to relocate to the Caribbean.”
But according to Katz, getting a second passport is not as easy as you might think. “From the first moment that you think about this until you actually do it, it’s generally a long process,” says Katz. And when it comes to getting citizenship quickly, there aren’t many options. “Most countries have immigration programs, and if you spend enough time you can graduate to citizenship,” says Katz. “Only a few have immediate citizenship programs.”
It’s particularly hard if you want to move to Canada. “Most Americans think that Canada is the 51st state—and what can you say that’s bad about Canada? It’s the kinder gentler nation,” says Katz. “But Canada has a backlog of two million applications. If you apply today, it will take you ages.”
According to the experts, the best countries for citizen by investment include Malta, Montenegro (which has a program that ends in December 2022) and five Caribbean countries, including Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and St. Lucia.
Get Golden Visa says that the three most popular golden visa destinations as of July 2022 include Greece, Portugal and Turkey, while Latitude says that Spain’s Residency by Investment Program is also popular. “Greece and Portugal have lots of spacious properties in natural surroundings with beautiful coastlines and hillside locations. We are seeing a tidal wave of people wanting to reconnect with nature and have space around them in which to live and work,” says Coskun.
But there are things to consider if you want to move abroad, especially the cost (the process is not cheap) and taxes. “Americans are at a huge disadvantage living abroad,” says Katz, who points out that the United States is the only country, other than Eritrea, that taxes its citizens living abroad, even if they are paying taxes in another country. “In order to avoid taxes, you have to give up your U.S. citizenship, which has huge tax consequences.” But in order to denounce your citizenship, you will need to pay the government 20% of your net worth, says Katz.
Still interested? Here’s what you need to know about some of the best countries to get a second passport and live the new American dream.
Leave the US: Best Countries for a Golden Visa
Golden visa is an immigration program that allows people to get citizenship in another country by purchasing real estate or making a large investment or donation. Here are a few of the best.
According to the company Get Golden Visa, Portugal’s golden visa program allows applicants to apply for citizenship at the end of living there for five years and only requires you to stay there for seven days per year on average. “Most countries require that golden visa holders reside full time in the host country in order to qualify for citizenship, but Portugal does not,” says Coskun. “This is a huge incentive for people who cannot commit themselves to a foreign country, due to business, education or family commitments.”
“Greece is another popular location as its real estate market shows lots of potential, particularly in Athens,” says Coskun. The golden visa investment requirement is €250,000, which is very low compared to its European counterparts (for example, it’s €500,000 for Spain). “Greece itself is a very attractive country thanks to its climate, easygoing lifestyle and strategic location.”
“Turkey’s golden visa is getting a lot of attention, as it offers a direct and quick path to citizenship,” says Coskun. “ Turkey’s popularity stems from the fact that the cost of living is very low when compared to E.U. countries and the U.S.” Applicants make a qualifying investment and can get their Turkish citizenship in three to six months. The most popular investment route for Turkish citizenship is real estate acquisition of $400,000 or more.
Leave the US: Best Caribbean Countries for Citizen by Investment
Antigua and Barbuda
There are a number of ways to secure second citizenship in the Caribbean nation of Antigua and Barbuda, including a $100,000 contribution to the National Development Fund, a real estate investment starting at $200,000, a $1.5 million business investment or an education option that entitles one member of the family to a one-year tuition-only scholarship at the University of the West Indies.
The tiny Caribbean island of Dominica is one of the best countries for citizenship by investment, since citizenship is extended to your spouse, dependent children and dependent parents or grandparents. It can also be passed on to future generations. Applicants need to either make a contribution to the country’s Economic Diversification Fund or invest in luxury and sustainable hotels and resorts.
With a passport from the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada, you can get visa-free access to many countries. There are two different ways to obtain citizenship, including a contribution of more than $150,000 to the country’s National Transformation Fund via the Grenadian Citizenship by Investment Program or by buying approved real estate with a minimum value of $350,000.
St. Kitts and Nevis
You’ll find one of the strongest programs in St. Kitts and Nevis, a pair of lush Caribbean islands. This passport allows visa-free travel to more than 100 countries. With a $150,000 contribution to the country’s Sustainable Growth Fund and a minimum real estate investment of $200,000, a family of four can obtain passports.
Foreigners can obtain residency in the Caribbean island of St. Lucia via the Citizenship by Investment Program. Once an application for citizenship has been approved, the minimum real estate investment is $300,000, which must be deposited in an irrevocable escrow account managed by the developer and the Citizenship Investment Unit. With a St. Lucia passport, you can get visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to 146 global destinations.
Leave the US: Best European Countries for Citizen by Investment
Malta’s Individual Investor Program is one of the most popular citizenship schemes—though it’s not cheap. It’ll cost you approximately $1.1 million through a combination of donations and real estate holdings. In return, you’ll get Malta citizenship and the right to live and work in Malta or throughout the E.U. You’ll also get visa-free access to many countries around the world.
Get here fast: The Montenegro Citizenship Investment Program—which grants immediate citizenship to applicants and their families—is ending in December. According to Apex Capital, the process of obtaining a Montenegro passport usually takes about six months.