Last year, the United States faced unprecedented challenges that will linger in the hearts of Americans for many years to come: a historically deadly pandemic, high rates of unemployment, crushing economic turmoil, skyrocketing living costs and the stirrings of social unrest. People took to the streets to make their views heard, and still others rebelled against the system in violent and unpredictable ways.
The effects of 2020 were so profound and deeply rooted that they percolated onto the once-unstoppable U.S. passport. COVID-19 travel restrictions and wildly spreading infection rates in the States caused the U.S. passport to tumble in the world rankings. Americans, who for decades could pretty much travel anywhere they wanted, suddenly couldn’t anymore. For once, they had lost their freedom of movement.
The global pandemic of 2020 also fundamentally weakened investor confidence in the capability of governments to manage disruptions and crises. Everyone experienced the chaos unfolding and how it affected their lives. With the world watching, America seemed to topple from its perch atop the G7. Growing numbers of U/HNW individuals, everyday investors and entrepreneurs started asking themselves hard questions. Did the United States offer as much promise as before? Was there still that enviable quality of life?
For some, those answers teetered on “no.”
But there was, and remains, a viable solution. In the U.S., insurance companies will insure just about everything. It’s in this spirit that Americans should insure themselves and their families against a risk that may feel a bit hard to conceptualize single-country residency. Fortunately, it’s actually quite simple.
This is the risk of only living in one country — of putting all your eggs in one basket, as the saying goes. It doesn’t have to be this way, as there is another, better way where you can have your cake and eat it too.
Americans can utilize the ever-emerging field of what we like to now call “global mobility assets.” It’s a new term for familiar things — second passports, citizenship-by-investment programs and “golden visas” — and some new ones that aren’t, such as visas for “digital nomads” and e-Residency. Dozens of desirable destinations are opening themselves up to foreigners by offering these assets and, better yet, many of them are tailor-made for U.S. citizens, entrepreneurs and location-independent professionals because they have favorable tax regimes and investment returns.
Americans should no longer feel bound by their country of birth. They can move abroad and transform their Plan Bs into Plan As, hedge against the risk of single-country residency, and expand their entrepreneurial spirit with this fast-maturing asset class of global mobility capital. America will always be the land of opportunity, but there are other countries worth exploring too, either temporarily or permanently. The global mobility asset class opens the doors for this new adventure.
The known options
For decades, starting in the Caribbean, citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programs have been an option for people to either start new lives abroad or improve their passport power. Generally through buying real estate or purchasing government bonds, these programs give investors second passports, new opportunities and increased mobility. They are common in the Caribbean, and a few countries in Europe — namely Malta and Montenegro — have also adopted them. Some Americans have viewed these CBI programs as beneficial to increase their passport power, or even to hold a new primary passport should they renounce their U.S. citizenship for tax or personal reasons.
Without granting full citizenship status, these programs, which also go by residency-by-investment (RBI), grant legal residency in a country, oftentimes in exchange for buying property. Portugal and Greece are among the best-known and most popular examples. Thousands have bought homes in those countries in exchange for the privilege of living in the EU or traveling around the Schengen Area. Sometimes these visas can be upgraded for full citizenship.
The lesser-known options
Many Americans may be surprised to know that their European-born ancestors, even as far back as their great-grandparents, have given them citizenship privileges by jus sanguinis, or “right of blood.” Countries where this is common, particularly as it pertains to a grandparent link, include Ireland and Italy, though many others offer it as a right bestowed by foreign-born parents to their U.S.-born children. For Americans, this right of blood is among the most straightforward and affordable ways to obtain a coveted EU second passport, which grants the privilege to live and work anywhere in the union.
Investors’ talent, drive and willingness to put up capital can take them all over the world. Countries like the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada offer incentive programs for investors to bring their capital and job-creation mindset. In exchange, investors can receive long-term residency that can be upgraded to citizenship under the right conditions.
The new options
Digital nomad visa
The COVID-19 pandemic showed the world how workers can remain connected in their business endeavors despite being away from the office. For this type of employee or freelancer — who can do the job from anywhere with an internet connection — there are digital nomad visas. Americans who are tired of rising rents can move abroad and experience amazing new cultures while still working for their home countries or for new foreign clients. Destinations that offer digital nomad visas include Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, United Arab Emirates, Germany, Portugal and the Netherlands.
Though a little off the radar, Estonia offers “e-Residency.” This tax-friendly Baltic country allows foreigners access to an EU business environment that they can manage from anywhere in the world. There is the possibility for a simple tax system of 0% corporate income tax, as long as you keep your profit earned in the company or reinvest it into growing your business.
About the author
Rogelio Caceres is the founder and CEO of Global Residency & Citizenship Group, a Miami-based investment advisory firm building the world’s first platform of global mobility assets, a $20-billion asset class. Global RCG builds customized portfolios of global mobility assets tailor-made to enhance the professional and lifestyle aspirations of its forward-thinking, globally oriented investors.
This article was published in the Uglobal Immigration Magazine 4.1