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More Americans seeking out second passport and residency permits

Scripps News explores the rising popularity of citizenship through descent and golden visa programs.
More Americans seeking out second passport and residency permits
Posted at 2:51 PM, Mar 17, 2024

When it comes to building your life, location matters, and for a growing number of Americans, having access to options abroad has never been more important.

"I think people are considering seriously, perhaps more seriously than they were a year or two ago. What are my options? What do I need to do to get my ducks in a row?" Jennifer Stevens, executive editor of International Living, said.

From second passports to residency permits, more Americans are looking to secure documents that enable them to live outside of the U.S. While the motivation varies from person to person, experts say a lot of folks are looking for a plan B in response to politics, safety concerns, and the overall cost of living.

"I would say that we are seeing from kind of all sides people who are just concerned about the future in the US. And so they are investigating their options and discovering what our members have, kind of known for a long time, which is that there are great places to live overseas where the cost of living is lower and the weather is good year-round, and the pace of life tends to be a little slower," Stevens said.

International Living is a platform that provides information and resources on life outside the U.S. Stevens says there has been no shortage of questions from readers.

"We always see, in an election year, an increased interest in what we do, right? People who are really worried about the specter of what is going to happen in the future. And I would say that we are seeing that more this year than we have in recent years," Stevens said.

So, what are your options? For some, citizenship through descent is the way to go.

SEE MORE: Passport woes leave travel advisors preaching caution

"So we are going through the Italian citizenship process. It's called your Jure Sanguinis. It's essentially blood-right citizenship," Sara Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman and her family are in the process of obtaining Italian citizenship through her husband's family, whose great-grandfather was from Italy. It's a journey that began in 2019 and required the family to collect and translate dozens of documents into English and Italian.

"It opens opportunities for my daughter. She is two years old. I mean, she can go to school in Europe. She could learn languages, have better healthcare. Also, like the dream, is to retire in Italy or retire in Europe. Like that's far down the line," Zimmerman said.

And for some, language fluency is required as part of the process.

"For me, who does not have any Italian blood, I need to be fluent in the Italian language before I can actually apply," Zimmerman said.

But what if citizenship through descent is not an option for you?

"Getting an additional residency or citizenship through investment is no longer only a luxury for the ultra, ultra, ultra wealthy," Murat Coskun said.

Murat Coskun is one of the founding partners of Get Golden Visa, an investment planning company that helps people navigate Golden Visa programs in countries in Turkey, Portugal, Malta, and a handful of Caribbean nations.

"Typically, the host country asks you to make a qualifying investment either in a real estate property and a qualifying fund, a private equity or a venture capital fund, or make a qualifying donation in exchange for a residency permit or a citizenship status," Coskun said.

Depending on the country, investments can range from as low as $100,000 up to a few million dollars—a steep price for most, but an option some say is worth the peace of mind.

"Nobody knows what their home country is going to look like in 10, 20, 30 years from now. So really, it's all about planning to have options," Jon Green, co-founder of Latitude, said.


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