Why citizenship is now a commodity


As more people are willing to move countries for opportunity and stability, anti-immigration policies and tightened borders are prompting a rise in ‘citizenship for sale’.

On a recent flight, I was idly flipping through the inflight magazine, when I came across an unusual advert promising “a unique strategy to safeguard your future prosperity and security.” The advert was plugging what it called “citizenship by investment.”

I’d heard of citizenship-for-sale initiatives in the past, and – prompted by the ad – I briefly wondered whether a second citizenship beyond my American one was something I might need. Is this something that people other than the uber rich are considering, and for reasons other than tax optimisation? And if so, why?

“The global rise of populist movements, together with an ever-increasing sentiment towards the creation of insular societies have all contributed to the unpredictability of our rapidly changing world,” explained the advert. As more countries tighten their borders and paths to immigration, a new industry is working to bypass those restrictions – for a hefty fee.

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