Second Citizenships, Residencies, and/or Temporary Relocation

by Josh Jacobson38 min read16th Feb 202125 comments

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Introduction

Over the past few years, I’ve gained an interest in securing options for residency outside of my home country, in particular via second citizenship.

There are a number of potential benefits that can arise from having a second residency option. These include professional and education opportunities, other economic opportunities, the ability to mitigate a variety of potential risks via relocation, travel benefits, and the potential extendability of these benefits to a spouse, descendants, or in rare cases friends and colleagues.

In this post I:

  1. Share the reasons I’ve identified for securing a second residency
  2. Provide thoughts on planning for a soon upcoming, largely unexpected departure
  3. Describe long-term options for alternative residency
  4. Share my knowledge and experience toward securing a second citizenship
  5. Provide the lessons I’ve learned in pursuing genealogy for the purposes of securing a second residency
  6. Share some other related topics I may write about in the future as an extension of this post and offer to help or connect people interested in securing second residencies

Notes and Disclaimers

  1. The original version of this post was written in early October 2020 and commissioned by the Center For Applied Rationality (CFAR). It has been somewhat reorganized for publication on this forum.
  2. This document is written nearly entirely off memory. As a result, it is likely that there are significant mistakes. It’s worth validating anything in here that you plan to act on.
  3. It is also written as a first-pass, optimizing for sharing the information with minimal time-investment. There may be cases of imprecise language, and inconsistencies in presentation or organization, as a result.
  4. I’ve pursued this topic out of personal interest, without an expectation that I would end up sharing my knowledge of it. As a result, I typically only looked into things to the degree necessary for my personal interest. I therefore expect this document to not be comprehensive and for there to be a high level of subjectivity in my account. Many opportunities are limited on the basis of current citizenship or ancestral background.
  5. You may want to navigate to sections of interest using the outline on the left rather than read the post as a whole. The options that I’ve found most exciting, because they are not well-known and can confer citizenship without relocation or large financial outlay, are Panama and the Ancestry Options. Unfortunately, these won’t be available to all readers. Luckily, you may find other options compelling.

Why Second Citizenships May Be Useful

Second citizenships can...

  1. Enable the counterfactual acquisition of desirable jobs:
    1. Positions in the country of second citizenship that are not available (or not available without significant friction) to those without existing right-to-work
    2. Positions in other countries that extend a right-to-work to the citizens of a country in which second citizenship is secured (e.g. other EU countries)
    3. National country government positions are sometimes reserved for citizens.
    4. The United Nations (UN) has some sort of system by which a person’s citizenship plays a large role in the possibility of their working for the UN, even in unrelated positions. I don’t know a lot about this, but I’ve been told by many people that it is much more difficult to enter the UN as an American citizen than it is as a citizen of other countries. I’ve also been told it’s much easier if you hold citizenship of a country in which there’s less competition for positions, and most target countries for second citizenships are likely to have less competition than most EA hubs. I am uncertain to what extent this may or may not apply to other intergovernmental (or nongovernmental) organizations.
  2. Enable potentially valuable work-visitation ability:
    1. Many countries, such as the US and UK, limit the length of work visitations as well as the activities that may be done. If a citizen of a country you’d like to visit for work purposes, you will not be subject to such limitations.
    2. Some countries can be more easily visited as a citizen of one country over another. For example, each citizenship I’ve investigated offers visa-free access to at least 5 countries that US citizens otherwise require visas for. In particular, a few countries (Bhutan, Russia (possibly no longer), Brazil (no longer)) have sometimes charged sizable daily fees for visitors from some countries, while others can visit for free.
  3. Provide access (or access at a much-reduced tuition) to Universities that were otherwise inaccessible
    1. In particular, low-cost universities for citizens are more available in Europe than the US
  4. Enable eligibility for various grants and scholarship programs
  5. Provide access to social services (welfare, health care, maternal support, etc.) that are superior to those in the country of first-citizenship
  6. Enable the ability to reduce risks, in particular in times of crisis, from a variety of threats such as:
    1. Authoritarian rule (by going to country of 2nd citizenship)
    2. Nuclear events (relocation as either as a preventative or response)
    3. Biorisks (relocation to a location that is better managed, in which the threat is not present, that has earlier/easier access to drugs or vaccines of interest, etc.)
    4. Air quality (e.g. leaving urban China or India, or other locations that may have a sudden decrease in air quality)
    5. Natural disasters (preventative relocation or in response)
    6. Escaping violence
    7. Escaping false imprisonment
    8. Leaving area of financial or economic collapse (personal or systemic, as long as one country provides superior opportunity)
    9. Violence, imprisonment, restrictions on movement or activities while visiting a country that is hostile (or has factions that are hostile) to your country of origin
  7. Provide economic opportunities
    1. Lower cost of living via relocation
    2. Lower taxes via relocation and dual taxation agreements
    3. Cheaper access to key resources (University, prescription drugs, etc.)
    4. Access to banking and investment opportunities reserved for citizens
  8. Increase access to resources
    1. Prescription drugs are often more readily available and less inexpensive in non-U.S. countries
    2. Some drugs (e.g. in cases of pandemic) may not be available to the public in the US as early as elsewhere
    3. Nuclear bunkers in countries that are more isolated
  9. Provide opportunities for influence of additional national governments
  10. Improve awareness and understanding of other cultures and value systems
  11. Increase opportunities for enjoyment via visitation or residence in an area that would otherwise be harder to visit or have restrictions on the length or type of presence
  12. Some of these benefits may be extendable to spouses, descendents (ad infinitum), and (more rarely) friends or colleagues via inheritance or sponsorship.
  13. Some of these benefits may become more pronounced if many in the community secure the same second citizenship. For example, they could allow for the creation of a new EA hub, group purchasing (e.g. a bunker in a country that’s less at-risk), group decision making to start EA-relevant programs at accessible less expensive universities, etc.

Example benefits someone may have had in the current pandemic:

  1. I know of a person on the Diamond Princess cruise ship that had an early COVID outbreak who was able to leave it earlier as a result of his second citizenship. He was a U.S. and Panamanian citizen, had pursued Panamanian citizenship solely for the benefits listed above, and Panama negotiated for his departure from the ship and chartered a plane for him significantly earlier than the U.S. did.
  2. A friend was working for the UN in Nigeria when the COVID outbreak occurred. The country was in lockdown, and she was unable to leave it. She is a dual citizen of Germany and the U.S. Germany offered her a chartered flight to depart Nigeria a month earlier than the U.S. did.
  3. The US and UK are two countries that have particularly high case rates of COVID. A second citizenship could have allowed relocation to a country with a lower case rate (and better management).
  4. Some COVID treatments are more readily available in some countries. For example, Fluvoxamine may be a highly promising preventative of hospitalization-worthy COVID. Many doctors seem quite hesitant to prescribe it in the U.S., and a clinical trial includes a placebo arm, but I believe it is freely and easily purchasable in some other countries. A number of drugs (primarily those that have previously been used to treat other conditions) fall under this category.
  5. Many countries have provided greater social services (in particular direct payments) to those who are unemployed during this pandemic than have others.
  6. Health care for COVID, in particular should you be hospitalized, may be much less expensive in some countries than in others.
  7. The ability to search for jobs in multiple locations can be particularly valuable during this time of mass unemployment.

Leaving the US in the Next 1-4 Months (written Oct. 2020)

Short-Term Stays

There are a number of countries still allowing US citizens to enter as tourists.

  1. The UK & Ireland may be particularly appealing, because they are English speaking, have strong healthcare, and are in/near the EU.
  2. Mexico is currently allowing US citizens to enter (via flight only) as well.

Long-Term Stays

Most places will have limits to how long you can stay in them (e.g. 90 days for the UK or EU). (1) (<- See footnotes) There are some options for more long-term stays, in particular:

Estonia

Estonia has launched a 1-year visa for remote / digital workers. Though it was planned for some time, that it launched during the pandemic is seemingly indicative of their willingness to accept applications during this time.

  1. The last time I looked, Estonia was not allowing anyone residing in the US to enter. A reasonable plan seems like it may be to travel to the UK/Ireland and then enter Estonia from there. (2)
    1. I believe the UK & Ireland require a 2 week quarantine upon entry, and you must have negative covid tests before exiting quarantine.
  2. Estonia seems like a great option because it is in the EU. Presumably, one could go to any other EU country once this visa is secured (although they may e.g. require an Estonian permanent address or something… I’m not sure how or to what extent Estonian residence may or may not be verified or required).
  3. I expect this visa to be renewable, so this option may not be time-bound.
  4. There are some EA connections to Estonia that may make this more appealing or may be worth reaching out to if you have any issues.
  5. I’m uncertain of the application & visa price; my guess is somewhere between $500 and $4000.

Bermuda

Bermuda (overseas territory of the UK) has launched a 1-year remote worker visa as well; particularly for the pandemic.

  1. Bermuda may be particularly appealing because it is well-developed, English-speaking, and close to the US.
  2. You can go straight to Bermuda from the US; there’s no need to e.g. go to the UK first like there is for Estonia.
  3. I believe you need a negative test or two prior to your flight in order to enter.
  4. Reports on the quality of Bermuda’s healthcare vary. I saw general descriptions of it being strong while I also read specific instances of patients being transported to the US for care.
  5. I’m uncertain of the application & visa price; my guess is somewhere between $1000 and $9000.
  6. I somewhat suspect that Bermuda will accept applicants more readily than Estonia, since this visa’s creation is seemingly in direct response to the loss of tourism revenue due to covid.

St. Lucia

St. Lucia has also launched a 1-year remote worker visa.

  1. Like Bermuda, I expect St. Lucia may accept applicants more readily than Estonia, given the program’s creation is inspired by making up for lost tourist revenue.
  2. St. Lucia may be appealing for its weather and proximity to the US; I expect it’s healthcare to be worse than other presented options.
  3. I’m uncertain of the application & visa price; my guess is somewhere between $1000 and $9000.

UK & EU Tourism

You can spend 3 months in the UK and 3 months in the EU (e.g. via Ireland) to get a total of 6 months abroad, which may be sufficient for most (or sufficient to plan another option).

Germany

Germany has long had an independent contractor/entrepreneurship visa; I’m unsure if it has been affected by the pandemic. I secured this visa around 2011/2012. At that time, the requirements to secure the visa were not too onerous and mainly involved proof that you were staying in Germany, had sufficient funds, and were an independent contractor or entrepreneur. I believe it was renewable indefinitely.

One of the most difficult aspects of securing it was that the required documentation was a moving target; online sources conflicted with one another and each reviewer of your application seemingly applied their own new criteria as well. As a result, one of the most successful strategies was insistence; arguing with your reviewer and demonstrating how you did in fact have sufficient documentation and that they were wrong. Hopefully, this has now changed to be more straightforward and less dependent on having a willingness to be highly insistent.

Portugal

I know little about it, but I believe Portugal has a visa you can secure with proof that you plan to establish residency in Portugal and that you have a stable and regular source of significant income from abroad (enough to easily live off of).

Notes on How to Prepare and Leave

  1. Refundable international flights are available through United Airlines, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and a few others. These are typically much more expensive than normal tickets.
    1. These may be appealing to book now; I can imagine that in a situation in which a number of people want to leave the country, flight tickets may either sell out or rise greatly in price.
    2. It may make sense to book tickets from multiple airports, to multiple countries, and on multiple airlines, should you be able. This helps provide options in case of difficulty getting to any specific airport, a country closing down to US tourists, etc.
    3. It may make sense to book tickets throughout the time of concern, e.g. if you are worried about election-related violence you could consider tickets throughout the November-January (inauguration) timeframe (or even after).
  2. Long-term visas should likely be applied for as soon as possible; although it may be the case that the Estonian visa should not be applied for until you’ve moved to another country.
  3. If your passport expires prior to 6 months after your latest potential entry date into another country, you may want to see if you can get it renewed and returned in time. Many countries do not let people enter on passports that have less than 6 months remaining validity.

Longer-term Options for Alternative Residency

Residency can refer to citizenship, permanent residency, temporary (short- or long-term, renewable or nonrenewable) visas, or visa-free visits.

Citizenship vs. Permanent Residency vs. Visas vs. Entering as a Tourist

  1. Citizenship: I find gaining citizenship in another country to be highly appealing.
    1. Pros:
      1. Permanent, nearly irrevocable right to live and work in another country. (3)
      2. Provides access to social services (e.g. healthcare, welfare)
      3. Provides access to consular services (e.g. protection in their embassies, negotiation on your behalf)
      4. Provides a passport
        1. This can make it easier to enter some third countries; for example, US citizens require sometimes-expensive visas to enter Russia while citizens of many other countries do not.
        2. Many have said that they feel like they’re less vulnerable / less of a target when traveling in countries where the government or some citizens may be hostile to the US.
      5. Typically inheritable by your offspring and often makes citizenship much easier for your spouse
      6. Can be helpful for gaining international employment
      7. May have social, emotional, or mental health benefits as well.
        1. Many say they feel more connected once they gain citizenship, that they have rediscovered their heritage, they have more confidence since they have an escape plan, etc.
    2. Cons
      1. You’re subject to the laws of that country. In practice, this seems to rarely have a downside.
        1. The most likely probably relates to taxation; most countries tax only those citizens living in the country, but some (like the U.S. and Israel) tax citizens living anywhere in the world. That said, this then can get waived if the two countries have an agreement not to double tax (the U.S. does with most developed countries, Israel does with most as well, although I think they’re currently negotiating with Australia and it may not be in-place yet).
        2. If you break a law in your second country, your first may be unwilling to help you, since you’re a citizen of that second country.
          1. (There are mixed reports about whether or not this is or is not the case.)
      2. You may need to maintain two active passports (a small financial cost). Most countries will not let their citizens enter on a foreign passport.
      3. A few countries require you to renounce your other citizenships upon receiving theirs, or will disavow your citizenship if you acquire another afterward. Sometimes this is specific to a certain country; e.g. I believe Slovakia and Hungary are not on good terms and do not allow dual citizenship with one another. This is rare but worth verifying for your countries of interest.
      4. Dual citizenship could potentially be detrimental to a political career.
  2. Permanent Residency: The is one-step below citizenship, and is sometimes a prerequisite toward obtaining citizenship.
    1. Pros
      1. Permanent right to live and work in another country, although it is much more revocable than citizenship
      2. Typically provides access to social services (e.g. healthcare, welfare)
    2. Cons
      1. Most (if not all) permanent residencies need to be ‘maintained’ through physical presence in the country. The nature of this requirement varies from country to country, although it is typically quite significant (e.g. 6 months+ in the country for 3 of the 5 preceding years).
  3. Visas: These signify temporary permission to be in a country. Sometimes they provide the right to work, while others only provide the right to be there as a tourist.
  4. Tourist: Usually when you enter a new country, you typically enter as a ‘tourist’, whether or not that is your intention (e.g. most attendees to academic conferences will typically enter the country as a ‘tourist’). Some countries require a visa for this, while others will provide a period of time under which you can remain visa-free (e.g. the EU and UK provide 90 days). When you enter as a tourist (whether visa-free or not), you do not have the right to work in the country. (4)

Comparing Options Against One Another (5)

Generally, it is not necessary to limit your number of applications for residency or citizenship. (6) That said, you may choose to prioritize on the basis of a number of different factors.

  1. Ease of applying
    1. Language requirements
      1. Some citizenship programs require you speak the local language, to varying degrees. For some you seemingly need to be B1 (7) or B2 conversational, while others only require an A1 or A2 level of language ability (or no language requirement at all).

        The way in which this is assessed varies as well. I’ve seen all of the following as language assessment tools depending on the country and program:
        1. Official language tests
        2. Conversations in the language when submitting the application
        3. Proof that you’ve taken a language course
        4. Signed statement by two citizens that you know the language
        5. Submitting your application in the language
    2. Documentation requirements
      1. Each citizenship program has quite varied requirements for documentation. Any or all of the following documents may potentially be required (though some programs require very little documentation):
        1. Birth certificates (for you and potentially some of your ancestors) (8)
        2. Your passport
        3. Marriage certificates (if applicable, for you and potentially some of your ancestors)
        4. Death certificates (if applicable, for potentially some of your ancestors)
        5. FBI background check
        6. Miscellaneous other documentation

You may choose to apply or not apply to  a program on the basis of which documents you have available (e.g. which ancestors you have records for). It may be worth applying even with a low likelihood of success if you have all the required documentation to submit an application, while other programs that would very likely be successful may not be worth applying to until the necessary documents can be obtained.

The form in which these need to be provided may range quite a bit as well. The following are the potential possibilities: 

  1. Apostille: This is an internationally recognized seal that certifies that a document is genuine. It is typically provided by the government. You would submit your document to the government in which it is issued to get it apostilled, prior to submitting your application.
  2. Original: Some programs ask for you to send the original documents. In most cases, with the notable exceptions of passports, it seems apostilled and/or official copies are accepted even when the programs do ask for originals.
  3. Official copies: Governments can issue official copies of documents at your request.
  4. Casual: Some governments aren’t picky at all; I think because they expect to verify the information via another method anyway. In these cases, you can e.g. make your own copy of a document (rather than obtaining one from a government) and submit it.
  5. Reference: Some governments will look up the information or validate it anyway, so you don’t necessarily need to provide any copy of a document, just information. For example, you might provide your date and place of birth rather than a birth certificate.
  6. (Officially) Translated: Some places are happy to accept documents in whatever language they are in, others will accept documents in English or their country’s language only, and some will only accept documents in their own country’s language. Some will let you source the translation in any way that works for you, but most seem to require an ‘official translation’. Official translation providers also vary by country; some require that their own government translate the documents for a fee, while others have a large network (including in the US) of official translation services that they allow.

I track the documents required for each place I’m applying with something similar to this linked sheet.

  1. Cost
    1. Purchasing citizenship can be very expensive ($35,000-$10M), and while most other options for procuring citizenship are generally affordable ($0-$350), some other programs can have fees that are quite prohibitive. For example, 1-year work visas in Australia seemingly often cost in the range of $3,500-$10,000. 

      There may be other costs that are less obvious that are worth consideration as well. For example, programs in Panama and Israel require your physical presence in the country. Some programs require apostilled copies of official translations of a number of documents, which each have low fees but can add up quickly. If you pay for genealogy assistance to search for and obtain records, those costs can add up quite easily as well.
  2. Ties to the country
    1. Some countries require you demonstrate ties to the country and/or culture. The two instances of this I’ve seen have been poorly specified and involve significant discretion in their assessment. I think these are often easy to build, and may involve activities such as attendance at cultural events or travel to the country of interest.
  3. Likelihood of application being successful
    1. While sometimes it can be very clear whether or not you’ll successfully receive citizenship or residency if you apply, I’ve more often found that there’s a level of ambiguity. This ambiguity can arise from:
      1. New programs that aren’t fully specified and are largely untested (Austria’s new citizenship via ancestry program announced Sep 2020)
      2. Differences in program wording, implementation, or standards for evaluation by individual or consulate
      3. Discretion on questions of sufficient documentation, language ability, etc.
  4. Desirability of citizenship
    1. Passport strength
      1. There are three passport desirability rankings I’m aware of:
        1. Passport Index Score
        2. Henley Passport Score
        3. Sovereign Man Passport Rankings (likely paid access only)
      2. I’ve built this linked spreadsheet to identify what countries’ passports provide advantaged access to which others, compared to your home passport. The visa requirements for every country combination from Wikipedia articles can be pasted in, and then the formula extended for new results. (9)
    2. IHDI (Inequality-adjusted Human Development Index), Fragile States Index, English speaking percentage of population
      1. I use these metrics as first-pass proxies for the country’s personal appeal and stability.
    3. Other access (EU, Latin America group, East African group)
      1. An EU passport tends to be highly valued due to the number of countries to which it provides access. There’s some sort of common Latin American work & residency group as well, and I believe there’s one in East Africa.
        1. In some cases these may provide the permanent right to live and work, while others just make it much easier to do so.
    4. Ease of citizenship for spouse and/or descendants
      1. In many cases, you may value a citizenship more if it can be acquired by a spouse and/or offspring. The ease with which these happen can vary.
    5. Personal connections & feeling
      1. I’ve found that I may in some cases have a higher likelihood of being able to obtain citizenship to some countries to which I don’t feel connected, while there are others to which I do feel I have a stronger ancestral or modern-day connection.

Options for Gaining Citizenship or Permanent Residency

I’ve been surprised to find that there are a number of options for second residency and citizenship; they’re often more accessible than I’d anticipated, though usually still time-intensive and potentially difficult to get. There are four categories of ways to get a second citizenship / residency:

  1. Miscellaneous: Some countries will grant residency or citizenship on the basis of your religion, your current citizenship, and/or your educational and professional achievement. Asylum may be a possibility in more extreme circumstances.
  2. Ancestry: A number of countries may grant you citizenship or residency if you have ancestors from those countries. Some examples are: Italy, Ireland, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Czechia, Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Slovakia, and Austria
  3. Purchasing: A number of countries may grant you citizenship if you make a large investment in the country or pay the government for it. This includes EU countries (I think Malta and Albania). In most cases the cost is over $100,000, but St. Lucia has a citizenship scheme that returns most of the money to you after 5 years, with a net cost that is much cheaper.
  4. Naturalization: Most countries will grant citizenship if you live there for a period of time.

Miscellaneous Options for Residency or Citizenship (10)

Panama 

Panama offers a “friendly-nations visa” that provides permanent residency. This is instantly obtainable (no residency requirement), if you’re a citizen of one of ~50 countries that they have selected. This is particularly appealing for a few reasons:

  1. Instant access to permanent residency
  2. This permanent residency is much easier to maintain than others
    1. You are required to spend one day in Panama out of every two years to maintain it. If you fail to, if you return within 6 years, they’ll reinstate it pretty easily.
  3. This permanent residency takes you on a somewhat-easy path to citizenship. You need to have permanent residency for 5 years, speak Spanish, and demonstrate a connection to Panama. Given the ease with which you can maintain permanent residency in Panama, you could be in the country 3-4 times, for a total of ~2 weeks, and obtain your Panamanian citizenship (although you may want to stay longer to better demonstrate a connection to Panama; some citizenship applications that are technically valid do get denied).
  4. I estimate the total cost to be $2-4k all-in to do this.
  5. Miscellaneous benefits
    1. Panamanian citizenship is supposedly excellent for financial security and alleviating U.S. taxes as well.
    2. A number of people report that Panama is very enjoyable to be in.
    3. Panama outperformed the US in at least one instance with regard to consular assistance after the coronavirus outbreak.

COFA: Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands

COFA stands for “The Compact of Free Association”. It is an agreement between the US and Palau, Micronesia, and the Marshall Islands. The summary of this agreement that I’ve read states that in exchange for the US being able to maintain military bases in these countries, the US provides nearly all social services for them (e.g. roads, welfare, etc.). Additionally, the citizens of these countries have the permanent right to live and work in the US, and citizens of the US have the permanent right to live and work in these countries.

  1. Pros:
    1. Permanent right to live and work in these countries.
    2. It seems you can enter each of these countries for 1 year visa-free (e.g. without notice.) Then it seems you apply for a visa that they are obligated to grant allowing you to stay longer.
  2. Cons:
    1. There is very little available information about the right for Americans to live and work in these countries. I would not be surprised if some of this information is wrong; I would not rely on this without verifying it first.
      1. I also have spent less time learning about this agreement than most other things on this document. I could particularly be mistaken about aspects of this one.
    2. These are micronations; they likely are not used to new people moving to them, probably don’t have great healthcare, and likely are not very economically developed.
    3. Given the US’s presence and influence in these countries, going to these may not alleviate your concerns.

Israel

People who can demonstrate that they are Jewish (e.g. a letter from a synagogue, ancestors’ gravestones showing they were Jewish, etc.) are permanently entitled to obtain citizenship.

  1. Pros:
    1. Citizenship can be instantly obtained upon arriving in Israel
    2. Israel is a developed country with a strong economy and social services.
    3. Upon obtaining citizenship, there are a number of benefits provided
      1. Waived taxes for 10 years!
        1. (These may not be fully waived; maybe they’re just reduced. I recall being very impressed though).
        2. Given Israel’s agreement with the US, this can give you 10 years of lower taxation if you reside there.
        3. If you were to e.g. inherit a lot of money in one year or realize a large amount of capital gains, perhaps obtaining citizenship and spending that one year in Israel would be highly financially valuable.
          1. In that case, you may potentially delay your acquisition of citizenship until that time.
      2. A monthly payment for a number of years if you reside in Israel
        1. (I think for a single individual this was about $300 a month; it scales by family size and I may be wrong about the amount.)
      3. Assistance finding a place to live
      4. Free Hebrew classes
      5. Probably quite a bit more
  2. Cons:
    1. While many countries allow you to obtain citizenship through your heritage without ever visiting that country, for Israel you must go there and you must demonstrate that you intend to move there for the foreseeable future.
      1. It may be the case that you are genuinely interested in trying-out living in Israel, but you are worried you’ll get in trouble if it doesn’t work out and you leave or change your mind soon after arrival.

        From what I’ve been able to determine, the intention to move there is all that is needed, and leaving pretty quickly after doesn’t seem to be an issue (although I’d want to further verify this before relying upon it).

        It seems you only need to show that you’ve rented a place and have some way you plan to make money in order to demonstrate that you intend to live in Israel.
    2. Israel has worldwide taxation, and while it has agreements with most countries so that you are not double-taxed, its negotiation with Australia is ongoing and a double taxation treaty was seemingly not in place when I looked in September 2020.
    3. Israel has mandatory conscription into its military if you are under 28 years old and residing in the country.
  3. Notes
    1. Citizenship is typically granted 3 months after arrival; you can fill out a simple form to waive this waiting period, however.

Canada

Canada is one of few countries to offer instant permanent residency. To obtain permanent residency, you must get a sufficient number of ‘points’ according to a formula that will ask about things like your age, education level, work experience, marriage status, whether you have a job offer in Canada, etc.. If you apply and are above the points threshold they reset every 3 months, you’re offered permanent residency (and I think you have a year to accept and move there, but I may be wrong.)

  1. Notes
    1. I think it’s moderate difficulty to meet the points threshold. It’s not at all unobtainable but many may not have sufficient profiles. Others may meet the points threshold even without a Canadian job offer.
    2. Canada is surprisingly easy to obtain citizenship in as well. You can gain citizenship after just 3 years of living in Canada as a permanent resident.

Citizenship through in-country birth of a child (Brazil, Argentina, Chile)

  1. Many countries reduce the naturalization requirement for those who have children in those countries (and typically these countries provide those children with citizenship instantly.)
    1. In particular, Brazil will grant instant citizenship to the parents of a baby born in the country. Argentina and/or Chile (I don’t fully recall), reduce the residence requirement to 1 year in order to obtain citizenship if you have a child in that country.

Portugal

Spain and Portugal had programs for granting citizenship to Sephardic Jews. Spain’s recently ended; I’ve heard Portugal’s is still in place. I don’t know much else about it.

Digital Nomad Visas 

See this linked section above

Ancestry Options for Residency or Citizenship

Unless you already have documentation of your family history, it is likely that you’ll need to engage in at least a little genealogy. I have a section on this below.

There are a number of countries that offer citizenship through ancestry (most often European countries). Wherever your ancestors are from, it is likely worth Googling if they offer citizenship through ancestry and also reaching out to the embassy to ask as well (I emailed the consulate of a country that did not say they offer citizenship through ancestry anywhere I could find online, and they still said if I submitted documentation of my ancestry they’d consider granting citizenship). Most lists I’ve found of which countries offer citizenship through ancestry are very incomplete.

Additionally, it seems the rules regarding citizenship through ancestry are often not well-determined. I’ve seen multiple instances of the regulations being written differently on different government websites, I’ve heard of successes & failures that don’t align with the regulations, and many countries do leave the decision about your citizenship up to the discretion of whoever happens to be reviewing your application.

General advice for pursuing citizenship through ancestry

  1. Engage with genealogy. It’s been my personal experience (and I’ve heard many anecdotes of this as well) that the story I’d been told of my ancestry was very incomplete and with some inaccuracy. Genealogy seemingly becomes more and more rewarding the more I engage with it, both from a citizenship and personal interest perspective.
  2. Find and talk to others pursuing citizenship. Facebook groups have been invaluable in providing a wide range of guidance and information regarding the pursuit of citizenship. Search for one for your desired country. Some that I’m aware of are:
    1. Lithuania Dual Citizenship, Lithuanian’s Citizenship Assessoria Lituana E Traduçoes
    2. Latvian Dual Citizenship
    3. Slovak Living Abroad Certificate & Slovak Citizenship
    4. HUN Citizenship Journey
    5. Austrian Citizenship Holocaust Descendants
    6. Ciudadania Checa/Czech citizenship
    7. Irish and Wannabe Irish, Dual Ireland/US Citizenship
    8. Dual US-Italian Citizenship, Italian Dual Citizenship, Italian Dual Citizenship Social Club

      There’s typically additional genealogy focused groups as well. Some examples: Genealogy in Ukraine - Research and Ancestry, Hungarian Genealogy Group, Lithuania & Latvia Jewish genealogy, New York City Genealogy
  3. Reach out to official sources. Embassies and consulates can be surprisingly interested and willing to answer questions and assist with your application. Some countries have central archives that will do extensive genealogy work on your family for a minimal fee. Official sources have multiple times saved me a lot of time and effort vs. pursuing questions or research on my own.

Citizenship (or Residence) Through Ancestry Programs I’ve Heard Of (not at all exhaustive): 

Hungary

Hungary has one of the most commonly used citizenship through ancestry programs. I think it’s decently liberal, but I could be mistaken. The ways in which I think (with low confidence) that it is liberal is that:

  1. I think you can apply if you have ancestors that lived anywhere in the historic Austria-Hungary.
  2. I think you can go back any number of generations.

Certainly, if you have ancestors up to the fourth generation who lived in the “Kingdom of Hungary” borders of Austria-Hungary, you are eligible for citizenship. There are two different programs, one in which you must demonstrate Hungarian language proficiency, and another in which you do not need to do so.

I don’t fully recall what determines whether you need to demonstrate you can speak Hungarian or not, but I think it has to do both with the timing of your ancestors leaving Hungary and whether or not they were from the Kingdom of Hungary proper or not.

If you do need to speak Hungarian for your application, it is assessed informally via the short (10 min) conversation you have when submitting your application in person at the embassy or consulate. Two teachers who have prepared students for this conversation in the past estimated students can learn sufficient Hungarian in 4 months, with 2 hour long lessons per week. It seems a reasonable cost-efficient and well-tested method of preparing for this conversation is via teachers on https://www.italki.com/. I estimated my total cost (not accounting for opportunity cost of time) would be $641, based on an hourly pay rate to the teacher of $19. If you’re more adept at language learning than the average individual or want to select a less expensive teacher, this could perhaps be less. Alternatively, it does seem many people learn Hungarian to an extent that seems beyond this amount, and some of them seem to think it was necessary for their application to be accepted.

Some embassies are known for being more or less lenient than others, and regardless of the embassy you select, you will have a certain amount of luck based on the strictness with which the person you submit your application to assesses your Hungarian. You can apply again if you do not pass.

Hungary requires official copies of birth and marriage certificates going back to your ancestor who lived in the relevant geography.

Latvia

Latvia offers citizenship by descent under its “exiles” program to those whose ancestors were presumably Latvian citizens at the time of World War II beginning and who left Latvia prior to its regaining independence in 1990. In order to substantiate the former, typical guidance is that you must find documentation implying Latvian citizenship that is from 1933-1940, although some claim that documents as early as the late 1920s are sometimes accepted as sufficient proof. Unless you are already in possession of sufficient proof, the likely best step is to reach out to the Latvian Archives. The Latvian Archives are particularly great to work with compared to those of other countries; they will perform a complete genealogical search on your family for under $100 and are highly communicative (though the process does take months). In at least my case, they found a lot of documentation that was not only helpful for citizenship applications, but also was informative of my family’s history.

Latvia requires Apostilles for most foreign-originating documents that may be submitted for your application.

There is a second Latvian citizenship program “Latvians and Livs” of which I have more limited knowledge. My understanding is that you must demonstrate a genetic Latvian heritage, as well as a strong understanding of Latvian (e.g. at the C1 level), in order to secure Latvian citizenship under that program.

Lithuania

It is possible to secure Lithuanian citizenship by descent, though some of the qualifications to do so are unclear. There are significant discrepancies between what official sources list as qualifying, and what those in Facebook groups say works:

Official Sources 

Facebook Word-of-Mouth 

You must provide proof that is suggestive of an ancestor being a Lithuanian citizen

You must provide definitive proof an ancestor was a Lithuanian citizen

Proof can come in a variety of forms, such as documents indicating life in Lithuania (school enrollment, paystubs, etc.), foreign documents showing place of birth or citizenship, etc.

The only acceptable proof is documents issued by the Lithuanian archives

I assign an approximately 50/50 likelihood to the official sources vs. Facebook providing better guidance. The Facebook community (which is overwhelmingly Brazillian) predominantly hires a small number of providers to complete the application process for them, so it doesn’t feel as though the limits of acceptable documentation are as likely to have been explored as they would be with a large group of applicants applying more independently. Conversely, I’ve often found that the implementation of citizenship programs can be quite different than how they’re described on official websites, so I do think Facebook communities often provide relevant valuable information.

Additionally, there are conflicts between official sources, with some saying that a great-grandparent (or more recent ancestor) must have been Lithuanian, while others say you can go up to great-great-grandparents, and at least one other saying ‘any’ direct ancestor is acceptable. In this case, I expect the sources saying ‘any’ direct ancestor is acceptable to be correct.

Lithuania has not been an independent state very long or very often. To apply for citizenship, you must substantiate an ancestor who (plausibly?) had citizenship while Lithuania was independent. I’m uncertain of the exact dates considered to be acceptable, but they’re approximately from 1918-1939. You also must show that this ancestor left Lithuania prior to it regaining its independence in 1990.

Securing documentation to support an application may be difficult (see table above). I found the Lithuanian archives to be both of limited utility and difficult to communicate with. They will perform document searches, and in my case they did find a couple that were relevant, but these searches are highly abbreviated and not comprehensive. To more thoroughly search the Lithuanian archives, you will likely want to hire someone, and the cost of these searches seemingly range from €300-500, with no guarantee of any success. (11) You may want to consider searching the Latvian archives; they seem to hold many documents originating from Lithuania and will perform comprehensive searches.

Most foreign-originating documents need to be Apostilled and officially translated to Lithuanian for the application.

I expect to apply for this citizenship sometime in 2021, which may provide some additional information as to acceptable documentation.

Austria

Austria has a brand new program that was passed into law in September 2020. It is most clearly intended for those whose ancestors were Austrian citizens and were persecuted, primarily by the Nazis. As a result, if your ancestors meet that definition, you have the most straightforward case.

That said, the definitions around the program are written broadly enough that it may be the case that many more people are eligible. It may be that if your ancestors ever considered themselves Austrian (or Austro-Hungarian), and were ever persecuted, you may be eligible. Since this is a brand-new program, we don’t really have data on what will or won’t be acceptable (and the consulates don’t either; they’re providing varied, inconsistent information).

As a result, a number of people are currently applying to this program without a clear idea on whether or not they’re eligible. Applying for the program is easier and more straightforward than most; there is no language requirement and you are only required to provide personal copies of any ancestor documentation. You do need to provide an apostilled copy of your birth certificate and an apostilled FBI background check, however.

I suspect that there may be an advantage to applying now; I could see Austria being liberal now but tightening the requirements later on once it sees how many applicants there are.

Slovakia

Slovakia offers a status of being designated a “Slovak Living Abroad”. If you apply for and successfully receive this status, you’ll receive the permanent right to come to Slovakia and easily obtain permanent residency.

To become a Slovak living abroad, you need to demonstrate ancestral ties to Slovakia, some form of proof that you speak some Slovak, and some form of proof that you’re culturally tied to Slovakia. 

Slovakia has a particularly wide range of strictness with regard to the administration of this program. I’ve seen some accounts of successful applications with very little to substantiate them; proof of having enrolled in a Slovak course (without having started it), for example, was sufficient for one applicant. I’ve also seen accounts of seemingly well-qualified individuals trying for years and being denied this status. The method for certifying language ability and cultural ties that Slovakia seemingly most recommends is to have two others with “Slovak Living Abroad” status sign a statement attesting to your language ability and cultural belonging.

A Facebook group was just recently formed for this (~August 2020), so I’ve seen much less discussion of this program than most others I’ve investigated. The group seems popular and should provide significant new data in the upcoming year. 

A bill has been introduced in Slovakia to allow citizenship via ancestry as well. This would be near-automatically granted to those who are already designated “Slovaks Living Abroad”. But for those who haven’t gained that designation (which may be eliminated if the bill is passed), a language test would be required. Therefore it may be beneficial to apply for this status sooner rather than later.

Other European Options

  1. Czechia: Czechia has a citizenship by descent program; though I’ve learned very little about it thus far. I’ve gotten the impression that it is likely more strict than some others.
  2. Ukraine: Ukraine offers citizenship by ancestry, but you must renounce your previous citizenships. There is a bill under consideration to not only eliminate this requirement, but also to ease the process by which citizenship by ancestry can be obtained. I plan to periodically check-in on this.
  3. Germany: I’m unsure if a German citizenship by descent program exists. I did read at least one website that said German citizenship by descent is available, while others have not included it in their list. After research I found out that my family actually didn’t have German ties, so I didn’t look into this any further.
  4. Poland: I haven’t looked into this because I found out after research that my family’s Polish ties are quite minimal, if they exist at all. I’ve heard that Poland does offer a citizenship by descent program and that it is quite strict and difficult to pursue.
  5. Ireland: Ireland has a citizenship by descent program, and it has a reputation for being liberal, easy, and one of the most used. I know very little else about it.
  6. Italy: Italy also has a citizenship by descent program, and it has a reputation for being liberal, easy, and one of the most used. I know very little else about it.

Financial Options for Residency or Citizenship

A number of countries will let you either directly purchase citizenship or gain citizenship via investment in the country. As far as I know, all of these require over $100,000 in order to gain citizenship. Due to my financial status, I have not looked into these much at all. I have noticed that there exist multiple options in the EU and Caribbean; I’m unsure to what extent this option exists elsewhere (though it does seem widespread).

St. Lucia

St. Lucia has the only program I’ve found to be notable based on my interests. The reason it is notable is that most of the money can be returned to you after a 5 year period. If I recall correctly, the initial outlay is over $100k, and it sits with the St. Lucian central bank for 5 years. After 5 years, they’ll return it to you minus fees, and the total cost (not accounting for opportunity cost, inflation, interest, etc.) can be something like ~$15,000 for a single person and ~$35,000 for a family of 4. This includes a potentially temporary COVID price reduction and a refund of some of the fees by using a broker with whom you split commission. (12)

Naturalization Options for Residency or Citizenship

Nearly all countries grant those who live there for enough time citizenship. There’s a few of these that have shorter time requirements than others that are worth mentioning.

Spain

Typically it takes 10 years of residency to become a Spanish citizen. If you have citizenship of a Latin American country, however, this requirement is reduced to just 2 years.

Interestingly, they recognize Puerto Rico in their list of Latin American countries. Puerto Rico does grant “citizenship” to those who are born or live there. I think this typically does not have any legal benefit or meaning, but it is helpful for reducing your time until Spanish citizenship. Notably, it takes only 1 year of residency in Puerto Rico to become a Puerto Rican citizen. So with 3 years of residence, you can become a Spanish citizen (1 year in Puerto Rico, 2 years in Spain).

Netherlands

I believe I’ve read that they have the shortest residency requirement in Europe, at 3 years until citizenship.

Canada

Included in the miscellaneous section because permanent residency is instant; citizenship itself can be obtained with 3 years residence.

Belgium, Chile, Argentina, Panama

I’ve read each of these have appealing naturalization programs, but I haven’t looked into them (I likely did very briefly and decided that I wasn’t personally interested).

Genealogy

Acquiring citizenship by ancestry is often most appealing; it typically doesn’t require you to make any major changes in your life, such as relocating or spending a lot of money, but you can receive all the benefits of having a second citizenship.

In order to pursue citizenship by ancestry, you need to know about your family history, and typically, have documentation of it as well. Here’s how to get started with genealogy. (13)

  1. Start a (feature-rich) family tree; it will be the basis for all your genealogy
    1. A family tree is the basis for tracking your family and recordkeeping. The best service on which to do this is Ancestry.com. An alternative is the software Family Tree Maker, which has two-way sync with Ancestry.com (and is nice to have to ensure you have a local copy of things).
      1. For each person in the tree, these can each store a number of facts, documents, stories… really anything you’d like.
      2. Ancestry.com will automatically find worldwide records that may match the people in your tree and suggest new ancestors / relatives. It can be extremely helpful; on very limited initial information I’ve sometimes tracked a family back to the 1500s.
        1. The records that are digitized tend to be from Western, developed countries. If your family has mainly been in the US & Europe, you are much more likely to locate family records than those from other locations.
      3. It will also match those in your tree with other family trees on the Ancestry.com service, and suggest records and relatives on the basis of what others have added. I’ve discovered extended relatives that are quite distant (e.g. 5th cousins), but had an amazing amount of info about my family (including e.g. pictures and items of my great great great grandfather).
        1. There’s a messaging service, and I’ve been somewhat surprised to find that messaging those who have made family trees including my ancestors has yielded a lot of information that those users didn’t store on the family trees themselves. I highly recommend it.

          This seems more common with older generations, who maybe build basic family trees but may not be as interested in or adept at digitizing paper records.
        2. This feature can also be a bug; it is very easy for one person to make a mistake or guess on Ancestry.com, and for that to then proliferate across all the trees and almost seemingly become ‘fact’. By locating new records others hadn’t found, I’ve discovered multiple instances of others’ trees having incorrect information that I’d added to mine.
  2. The best way to build a tree is first through your own family history / knowledge.
    1. One of the most prolific maxims within genealogy is to focus as much as possible on gathering every piece of family history directly from your family before doing much other work. I’ve found that this advice is sound.
      1. It is surprisingly easy to find a record that really looks like it belongs to your family, but that doesn’t. For example, Ancestry.com may recommend a record as applying to your family, and the record may be for someone with the same first and last name, same year of birth, same spouse’s name, etc. It can be very easy and reasonable to believe that this record is for your ancestor. But there are times that this happens, and the information is for another person. Unfortunately, you may then spend hours building your family tree on the basis of this irrelevant document, and it can be quite difficult and time-intensive to figure out that mistake and undo all of the mistaken decisions made as a result.
      2. Working off of your own family history is the best way to prevent this sort of mistake, to the extent possible. Start with your knowledge, and then interview any living relatives that you have; especially those older than you (make sure to record the information all down somehow). Ask them for any information they may have; ancestor’s names, place names of birth, death, or where they lived, anecdotes of how many children person X had, when they immigrated to a new place… most anything and everything can end up being helpful. I’ve found that those relatives I don’t know well… such as extended family, can have much more information about the family history than I ever would have expected.
  3. Be very willing to learn about genealogy options specific to your family.
    1. While Ancestry.com is a powerful tool, there are a number of specialized ways to locate records depending on your situation. For example, JewishGen is a great service for locating European Jewish records. Many of its databases are synced with Ancestry.com, but many others aren’t.
    2. The best way I’ve found to learn about what tools may be relevant to you is to ask questions or read posts in relevant Facebook groups.
    3. FamilySearch is probably the most valuable, general genealogy service after Ancestry.com. They have a quite helpful wiki that can also point you to a number of sources of records for your family’s context. For example, here’s a wiki on Latvian records.
      1. FamilySearch has a number of records that it has scraped (often with inaccuracies) but hasn’t publicly digitized. Typically you would go to a FamilySearch History center to see the digitized version of the record, but during the pandemic you may not want to. You can always wait until you are comfortable going to one, but I’ve also found two (potential) solutions:
        1. The NYC Genealogy FB group regularly has threads where people post the record numbers that they need looked up. One person will go and do a number of searches at once; this potentially helps minimize the amount of exposure occurring through less people visiting.
        2. I found places with no cases (e.g. southern NZ in early September 2020) and posted a ‘gig’ on Craigslist. I did receive responses, but I ended up getting my record via a different method.
  4. Consider paid genealogy; at least for locating local records that aren’t digitized
    1. There are a number of records that are only available on-location; too often, these are the most important records to your citizenship application. For example, only one of all of my great great grandparents' birth records has been digitized, while others are likely to be available if I hire someone locally.
    2. Paid genealogy work is often very expensive, but I’ve found two ways to make it more affordable:
      1. Reaching out to national archives can be a low-cost, valuable way to get a lot of genealogy work done for a low fee. They also may have access to records that no other provider can search for, and they may be able to provide official certifications that can be used for citizenship applications.
        1. My most successful experience with this has been with the Latvian archives. I’ve (so far) had less experience with some other country’s archives, but the success I’ve had with Latvia outweighs the minimal fees I’ve paid for less successful searches elsewhere.
      2. Facebook groups have sometimes found a low cost provider that they’ll all use. For example, for locating records on the ground in Hungary, one service provider is much lower cost than all others I’ve been able to locate, and he seemingly solely works for those who have found him on the Facebook group (and now has his own FB group as well). He has great reviews,
    3. If you are time-constrained but not finance-constrained, there are a number of people who will do nearly all the relevant genealogy work for you. I’ve contacted a large number of them, but due to cost I haven’t proceeded with any of them (just the two examples above).
  5. DNA tests typically don’t seem to be useful. I’ve primarily heard of these being helpful for those who were adopted or otherwise don’t know as much as is typical about their family history (e.g. those who don’t know their parents' names, or perhaps who don’t know their grandparents’ names). That said, they can be quite inexpensive ($49 when on sale at Ancestry.com) and perhaps can help with your research.

Moving Forward

  1. If you found this post helpful and are interested in applying for citizenship, please contact me at josh@derisked.org. I may be able to offer help (possibly for free, depending on funding) and can also connect people who are interested in applying for citizenship to the same country.
  2. In the future I may update this post or create a sequence by:
    1. Improving the linked spreadsheets so that they’re easier for others to use
    2. Clearing up my areas of uncertainty or inaccuracy by referencing relevant materials
    3. Adding references for those who would like to learn more
    4. Writing up step-by-step instructions for some programs
    5. Investigating other citizenship by ancestry programs and/or learning more about those which I don’t know much about.
    6. Learning more about available naturalization, financial, etc. citizenship programs
    7. Writing about relocation tax strategies
    8. Writing about economic residency and related financial derisking opportunities

      I currently don’t expect to write these additions in the next 6 months.

Footnotes (added Feb 19)

(Footnotes dropped off while transferring my draft from Gdocs to LW; I only realized this now, 5 days after posting)

(1) Column V in this passport comparison sheet has the Wikipedia information on this (from late 2019 I believe).

(2) This linked doc, in particular this section, seemingly validates this plan.

(3) I have read anecdotes of citizenship being taken away; typically in autocratic countries and/or in response to politics or significant levels of crime (e.g. murder). Even in these situations it’s quite rare though.

(4) Although the definition of ‘work’ can be worth investigating. E.g. in the UK, there are some work activities you can perform, and others that you can’t, when entering as a tourist.

(5) Here’s a partially redacted copy of a spreadsheet I’ve made to track potential citizenship options. It hasn’t been edited much for others’ ease of use, and some information may be outdated or incorrect. Numeric information is more likely to be accurate than is written.

(6) For a potential exception see the third con in this section containing a description of Slovakia and Hungary.

(7) More about these levels: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_European_Framework_of_Reference_for_Languages#Common_reference_levels

(8) This is elaborated on further in the “Ancestry Options for Residency and Citizenship” and “Genealogy” sections.

(9) I built this for myself and have not customized this at all for others’ use. It is likely I can make it more user friendly if widely desired. It is a bit hacky and may not work perfectly, additionally, the source Wikipedia info may be inaccurate or out of date.

(10) At some point I found this linked spreadsheet of options. I do not recall the source of it, and I’m uncertain of when it was created and its level of accuracy. I only have explored it briefly, but some may find it quite valuable.

(11) I have found one person offering €150 upfront, with €150 due upon success, though I don’t have any supporting references for them or other reasons to have much belief that they are legitimate or would be successful.

(12) Sovereign Man has a broker with whom they have an agreement to split commission.

(13) FWIW, I’ve found genealogy to be much more interesting and enlightening than expected. I knew a decent amount about human history anyway, but via learning about my personal history I’ve learned quite a bit more about human history as well.

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Thank you for this resource.

I believe you can spend 6 months in the UK visa free and there's no rule against more than 6 months out of the year. My understanding is that visitors will be vaccinated and treated for Covid by the NHS -- you may need to pay some modest fee. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_the_United_Kingdom

https://www.freemovement.org.uk/there-is-no-180-day-rule-for-visitors-to-the-uk/

This is really interesting; thanks for sharing. I'd actually written above that I thought the limit was 90 days, so I was particularly incorrect there. Reading the freemovement link, it seems:

  1. The maximum permitted stay per visit is 180 days
  2. There is no maximum time per year someone can stay in the UK. In theory, you could leave on day 180, come back on day 181, and stay again in the UK so you've spent nearly every day of the year there.
  3. The main barrier to doing something like #2 is the immigration officer must assess that your entry of the UK is for a genuine, temporary, 'visit'. They likely will take into account how long you've been there in the past and how recency, as well as other factors, when deciding whether or not it is a 'visit'.

@Owain_Evans do you know of instances of people successfully spending more than 180 days in the UK without e.g. a work visa?

I don't know of instances. But I'm also interested to know if people have good sources on this. 

My understanding is that people entering the UK by air (e.g. from the US) now enter via ePassport gates and so don't need to talk to a border/immigration official. This might make it easier to enter than before. At the same time, I would be wary (based on what little I know) of entering without a clear explanation and evidence you are not working in the UK (e.g. epic holiday in UK, clear family reasons). 

Israel: "A monthly payment...Assistance finding a place to live...Free Hebrew classes...Probably quite a bit more." There is a basket of benefits: The point is to help in settling into the country.

In total, these are not a lot of money, but do ease the process of absorption.

"[p]rograms in...Israel require your physical presence in the country." You are expected to be moving here, but preliminary registration steps (which that sentence is mostly talking about) are usually done from outside Israel.

Where did you see that "Israel... tax[es] citizens living anywhere in the world"? I've never heard of that.  Various sources state that  it  only the United States and Eritrea.

The Netherlands allows dual nationality only for people from countries that don't allow one to give up their nationality. If your country allows you to give up your nationality, you have to do that in order to become Dutch.

  1. This is great to note, thanks for pointing it out.
  2. I didn't know that it was impossible to renounce some citizenships. A Dutch government site says "Greek and Iranian nationals, for example, cannot give up their nationality: it is not legally possible. In Morocco giving up your nationality is not accepted in practice." Interesting.
  3. Do you happen to know about enforcement for this? I've read in multiple instances of some countries having a rule requiring renouncing a previous citizenship 'on the books', but in practice it never being enforced nor adhered to. On the same government site as above it also says,

    "Other nationalities no longer recorded in the personal records database

    Since 6 January 2014, second or multiple nationalities are no longer recorded in the Personal Records Database. If you have another nationality besides Dutch nationality, this will no longer be noted when you register."

    I'm not sure whether to take this quote as an indicator of a lack of enforcement or not.

No, I have no idea about how/whether it's enforced.

Israel: "Waived taxes for 10 years!... (These may not be fully waived; maybe they’re just reduced. ...)." Reduced is a better way to say it. Various taxes, including income and property tax, are reduced. 

The 10-year period you are thinking of is on income generated investments. from outside Israel. If you are American, however, that does not much help as the US government will then grab the tax (as there is then no "double taxation" issue for those 10 years).

I've just realized today (~5 days after posting) my footnotes did not transfer from the Google Docs draft. If you are returning to this post after previously reading it, you may want to take a brief look at the footnotes, as there are some potentially valuable resources linked in them.

Writing from NZ. We have friends from US who worked here for 10 years (got permanent residency) before returning to the US in 2018. Because the husband has a significant respiratory complaint, he was very vunerable to Covid, but thanks to permanent residency, they were able to return here, do their 2 weeks in managed isolation facility and are staying here till safe. 

I would note that permanent residency makes you subject to local laws as well, at least here. A colleague from US who now has NZ partner was surprized to discover that the law here would regard them as married as far as the Marital Property act. Not a problem for her but not hard to imagine situations where that might be a nasty shock. On the plus side, permanent residents get full voting rights. NZ is cool with dual citizenship which our Iranian neighbours are thankful for. Much easier to travel on a NZ passport.

Of course, no chance of getting into NZ nor I suspect Australia at the moment. Even citizens in long queue with Managed Isolation booked out till June. 

Thanks for sharing. NZ is probably one of the most attractive residencies, particularly from a derisking perspective. I'd love to secure residence there, but it seems to in most cases require living and working there (or millions of spare dollars).

FWIW, it did seem to me that entering Australia with a job offer and work visa was feasible when I looked into it ~5 months ago. NZ indeed was more locked down.

I haven't investigated to what extent permanent residency vs. citizenship vs. tourism subjects you to the local laws, but I expect when in-country there is typically little difference. Outside the country, my guess is you're only subject to the laws where you are, and where you're a citizen of, but I could be wrong. The marital property instance is an interesting one, since it's a bit less obvious that would apply to non-citizens.

As far as know, you are correct. You need to live or work here. The millions of spare dollars option has become politically more difficult after Thiel got citizenship. I would also say that mostly law applies  in-country but various tax, finance provisions etc apply to permanent residents even if not resident. Similar provision apply in UK so I suspect these are pretty common.

It is possible for employers here to make a case to bring in essential workers from overseas, but the bar is very high. While the isolation facilities are being besieged by citizens trying to return, I doubt there will be any change. 

 

I wrote about my experience with Canada (instant permanent residency) - https://scattered-thoughts.net/writing/canadas-express-entry-program/. Worth noting that so far this year they haven't offered any places in the regular program - https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/corporate/mandate/policies-operational-instructions-agreements/ministerial-instructions/express-entry-rounds.html.

Wesley Aptekar-Cassel wrote about his experience with Taiwan (very quick renenewable work visa) - https://notebook.wesleyac.com/taiwan-gold-card/

The Gold Card seems great; approximately ~$100-$300 for 3 years of a second residency via a method that appears pretty simple and accessible to more people than pretty much any option I discuss above. I'm quite interested in it and going to research more. Thanks so much for sharing.

(I found your Canada experience valuable info-wise as well. It was quicker and more expensive than I'd expected, especially since you said your experience was slower and less expensive than is typical.)

A friend from Singapore did Express Entry and only took three months. Mine appears to have been longer because the London embassy was in the middle of moving buildings. When I went in for my biometrics it was total chaos - they didn't even have a regular camera setup yet so they tried taking pictures in three different rooms. Then after they approved it they kept failing to actually send the approval paperwork. But it seems like normally the process is pretty fast. 

I hear that if you live in, say, India then getting things like police certificates is a lot more expensive and can take a long time.

Some previous discussion. Looks like there is some info there that's not in your post, e.g. Paraguay also has a Friendly Nations visa which is easier to maintain than Panama's? (Maintaining the visa on a long-term basis could make sense if you're concerned about a disaster where lots of people are suddenly trying to get out >>> countries like Panama and Paraguay make the Friendly Nations visa harder to obtain, while continuing to honor permanent residency for those who have already been granted it.)

Thanks for linking those; I hadn't seen either of them.

I'm a bit familiar with Paraguay's program and should have included it. One likely reason it didn't come to mind is that the anecdata I've come across about Paraguay's has been pretty negative about it working in practice. That said, most, if not all, accounts I've read have been focused on permanent residency as a path to citizenship rather than permanent residency as an end in itself, and I'm unsure whether difficulties tend to arise in obtaining and maintaining the permanent residency or only in converting that to citizenship.

If the linked commenter is correct, to maintain Paraguay's you have to visit every 3 years while for Panama it is every 2 years, although in Panama you can go up to 5 years and then fill out a simple application for reinstatement.

My understanding is that Czech citizenship by descent is aimed at people who have parents or grandparents who were citizens of Czechia or Czechoslovakia, ruling out most (a guess; me anyway) US people with Czech ancestry, whose ancestors were citizens of Austria-Hungary. Even this is a fairly recent liberalization (sorry, I can't turn up a reference quickly, though I looked into it sometime during 2020, in part out of jealousy of friends with Irish or Italian ancestors).

I did not know about the Slovak Living Abroad program, thanks for noting that ! Based only on a [reddit post](https://ns.reddit.com/r/Slovakia/comments/jr3y5c/application_for_slovak_living_abroad_certificate/) it seems doable (for someone with some Slovak ancestry, which includes me) and a relatively quick path to citizenship (potentially after 3 years of residence).

Thanks for the Czechia info.

There's some legislative interest in Slovak Living Abroad becoming a citizenship (rather than permanent residency) program. Check out the FB group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1454484788071370