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Economic citizenship can be used to represent both the economic contributions requisite to become a citizen as well as the role in which one's economic standing can influence his or her rights as a citizen. The relationship between economic participation and citizenship can be considered a contributing factor to increasing inequalities and unequal representation of different socioeconomic classes within a country.
Republican notions of citizenship
The republican model of citizenship emphasizes one’s active participation in civil society as a means of defining his or her citizenship. Initially used to describe citizenship in ancient Greece, the republican notion focuses on how political participation is linked with one’s indent as a citizen, stemming from Aristotle’s definition of citizenship as the ability to rule and be ruled.
In relation to economic citizenship, the civil participation discussed by Aristotle can be described as economic participation so critical to the capitalist system. Defining one’s ability to be a full citizenship by his or her economic participation will establish a variegated system of citizenship in which those who can contribute most to the economy will be better represented and have a broader range of rights than those who cannot contribute as much. Variegated citizenship represents the concept that those within a different regime or status receive different levels of rights and privileges.
Economic citizenship in theory
T. H. Marshall acknowledges this concept in his discussion on the relationships between social class, capitalism and citizenship. He argues that capitalism is reliant upon social classes which directly relates to differentiated concepts of citizenship.
Similarly, Alice Kessler-Harris discusses the relationship between one’s ability to labor, and his or her right to equal wages as a component of citizenship. Her central argument addresses how denying a woman the right to labor and equal wages limits her identity as a citizen.
The arguments by both of these theorists contribute to the notion of economic citizenship because they highlight both how economic standing and participation can be linked to one’s identity and privileges as a citizen.
Citizenship by investment
Citizenship-by-investment enables individuals to acquire an additional citizenship by making an exceptional economic contribution to another country. This can be done by successfully completing a citizenship-by-investment program (also referred to as immigrant investor programs). Most of these programs are structured to ensure that the investment contributes to the welfare, advancement and economic development of the country in which they wish to reside or belong to. It is more often more about making an economic contribution than just an investment. These programs must be run in a manner which is legal and transparent, and in keeping with the constitution of the nation offering citizenship. This ideally should prevent corruption at the same time as giving the individual obtaining citizenship a sound legal right to their new citizenship.
Several countries are currently able to offer investors citizenship or residence in return for an economic investment. This is usually in the form of requiring a substantial investment, coupled with compliance, residence and language requirements, among others. These countries are very selective in the type of individual they will allow to gain citizenship, however these individuals are more often than not motivated by more than just capital gains, and are looking to invest in a country more substantially from a family, social or cultural perspective. These individuals who bring their family with them as dependents commonly contribute to the economy in a variety of ways, including paying for private schooling, purchasing real estate, extending their business and creating employment. Previously, the majority of countries with citizenship-by-investment programs were located in the Caribbean, for example Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Dominica. More recently in the European Union, Malta and Cyprus have both developed successful programs. It is estimated that each year, hundreds of wealthy people spend a collective USD 2 billion to add a second or third passport to their collection. It is estimated that in 2018, 1006 Million euros came in to Cyprus in revenues from the Cyprus citizenship by investment program.
Alternatively, countries may offer certain options to secure a permanent residence. Examples of countries offering such residence programs are the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Portugal, Bulgaria, Canada and Australia.
Possible advantages of citizenship-by-investment
- Better quality of life — Citizenship-by-investment programs often provide individuals with the ability to relocate permanently to another country to improve many aspects of lifestyle
- Mobility — A second, or even third, passport from a country with a high level of visa-free access gives an individual the ability to travel widely without time-consuming visa application processes
- Security — Securing the option to permanently reside or retire in a safe country. This alternative passport, most likely from a peaceful country, is critical when travelling and in times of political unrest, civil war, terrorism and other situations
- Education — Provide your children with the ability to live, work, and study in multiple countries
- Financial planning — An alternative citizenship offers more privacy and economic security across banking and investment portfolios. Investors also enjoy tax breaks and the possibility of improved personal and corporate tax exposure
Possible disadvantages of citizenship-by-investment
- The time it takes to complete the process differs between countries and programs, and this can also be delayed by the time it takes the applicant to submit all the necessary documentation. For example, the time to citizenship for Cyprus is as little as 90 days, while Malta and Antigua and Barbuda take between three and six months. To qualify for citizenship in Canada, the applicant has to be physically present for four years in a six-year period
- The level of investment required also varies between countries and programs. For example, Caribbean citizenship-by-investment programs require less of an investment than those programs in the EU. In Dominica the minimum investment required is USD $200,000, Antigua and Barbuda, and St. Kitts and Nevis the minimum investment required is USD $400,000 in real estate, while Malta requires USD $870,000 and Cyprus USD $2,875,000
- Governments may change their policies or requirements at any time, or increase the investment amount without much notice. Applicants who have already submitted their documents may have to make the necessary changes to still qualify for the programs
- Generally, citizenship-by-investment programs have come under much scrutiny over the years, over concerns over a lack of transparency and accountability
- Certain governments may limit or prohibit the use of dual-citizenship.
|Malta EU - Donation||Cyprus EU - Investment||Antigua and Barbuda - Donation||Dominica - Donation||Grenada- Donation||St. Kitts and Nevis- Donation|
|Minimum Investment Required||USD $1,100,000||USD $2,146,000||USD $400,000||USD $200,000||USD $200,000||USD $400,000|
|Average Processing Time||1 year+||6 months||3 months||3 months||60 business days||4–9 months|
|Residence Required||Yes||No||5 days within 5 years||No||No||No|
|Oath of Allegiance Required||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
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- Kessler-Harris, Alice. "In Pursuit of Economic Citizenship," Social Politics, vol. 10, no. 2 (summer 2003): 157–175.
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