By Kathryn Funk
Nigeria has a population of over 200 million citizens — the most densely populated African country. The country boasts a diverse culture, stunning natural beauty with lush rainforests in the south to majestic mountains in the north and coasts lined with striking beaches.
Nonetheless, for various reasons, notably countrywide inequality, Nigeria is a country with significant outbound migration. Extreme poverty strikes communities all across Nigeria and a high number of Nigerians seek to relocate to Western countries, USA, UK, and Canada in search of better security and access to high-quality education and healthcare for their families.
On the other side of the spectrum, despite safety concerns affluent Nigerians live a comfortable life with easy access to necessities. They’re accustomed to the finer things such as luxury goods, high-end dining and domestic services.
Regardless of their economic status, limited global mobility is a problem that affects all Nigerian citizens. The Nigerian passport is very weak, ranked 96th in the world, with visa free entry to only 43 countries.
While middle class and wealthy Nigerians may wish to stay in their homeland, or not be grounded to one place, a second passport is considered an essential asset. This is where citizenship by investment programs come into play, eliminating the need for permanent relocation and naturalization. Investment migration has grown in the region as numerous Nigerians are utilizing ways to obtain a second passport.
Acquiring a second passport through Citizenship by Investment programs has become widely accessible to the wealthy and middle class. Opening doors for visa-free travel to multiple countries and eliminating the need to constantly apply for visas. Dual citizenship promotes freedom of movement, even spontaneously, and secures eligibility to live, work, and invest abroad.
Nigerian passport holders can obtain permanent residency or direct citizenship through economic investment in a relatively short time frame. Many programs have no residency requirement, allowing Nigerians to become dual citizens without even leaving the continent. All in all Nigerians gain more freedom and better global opportunities through this route.
Nigerians are investing in dual citizenship not only for the benefits of borderless freedom and opportunities, but also for the increased financial security it provides through asset protection and tax benefits. Such an investment is often made to secure their future and that of their families with citizenship passed down to future generations.
Dual Citizenship for Nigerian Businesspeople
For business people with weaker passports, global markets bring both advantages and disadvantages. Getting a visa for business travel with a Nigerian passport can be quite difficult due to restrictions. The process requires careful planning and preparation, and can sometimes be rather daunting. Nigerians often hire agents to help them go through the process, but even with professional assistance, it can demand a lot of effort, time, expense and connections. Nigerian businesspeople often face the fear of visa rejection, putting them at a disadvantage against their foreign competitors. Considering those without the worry of securing a visa may make it to the table faster and have the upper hand in conducting business. As a result, Nigerian businesspeople often seek second citizenships for the sake of gaining access to visa-free travel.
Citizenship by investment programs in the Caribbean countries grant citizenship rights without requiring applicants to live (or even visit) their new country of citizenship. Such passports are therefore a great option for Nigerian business people as they don’t need to leave Nigeria unless they wish. Thus, they can conduct business as usual yet with an increased advantage of a newly found passport. Citizenship by investment programs grant visa-free access to the EU Schengen area, Hong Kong, the UK and Singapore — major business hubs. Even enabling them to tap into lucrative markets such as China and the US.
Overall, second passports enable Nigerian businesspeople to conduct international business with freedom and ease, eliminating major inconveniences they run into with the Nigerian passport.
Where are Nigerians getting second citizenship?
Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs are available throughout Europe, the Middle East and the Caribbean. Nigerian investors tend to favor Caribbean CBI programs such as Grenada, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia. This is because the Caribbean passports obtained through these programs are highly valuable yet cost effective, granting visa free travel to more the 125 countries across the globe from $100,000 USD.
The Caribbean passports obtained through these programmes can prove to be valuable as they allow visa-free travel to more than 125 countries across the globe. These programmes offer investors the option of obtaining alternative citizenship either through a real estate investment or an economic donation. In St. Lucia, there is also a government bond investment option which secures the investors funds for 5 years before the funds are returned without interest.
Nigerians can also consider the golden visa programs in Europe if they simply wish to secure visa-free access to the Schengen Area. Portugal’s Golden Visa program, with its flexible pathway to citizenship, has been a popular option in Europe. The program’s upcoming closure has resulted in a shift in demand towards Greece and Malta. Greece has an attractive Golden Visa program that starts at €250,000 for low-cost investments. Malta’s Permanent Residency program, on the other hand, calls for a government donation, administrative fees, and physical residency through property purchase or rental.
Both Greece and Malta do not require a minimum stay to maintain residency, but it takes at least 7 years of living in either country to be eligible to apply for citizenship. Notably, Malta is the last country in the EU to also offer a citizenship program that doesn’t require living in the country. However, this option is only available to individuals with an ultra-high net worth given the total costs involved are close to 1,000,000 EUR.
The Caribbean Citizenship By Investment programs are a better option in terms of cost and time effectiveness. These programs are managed by immigration consultants such as Lincoln Global Partners and the procedures are easy to follow. One of the biggest advantages of the Caribbean investment programs is that you don’t have to travel to the country to complete the process, and there are no compulsory physical residency requirements (except for Antigua & Barbuda, where applicants need to spend 5 days in the country over a period of 5 years).
By participating in a Caribbean investment program, individuals can acquire a second citizenship through investment and add on their family members, including dependent parents and children up to 30 years old. This enables multiple generations to possess a second citizenship and in the case of Grenada ensures citizenship for future generations as well.
Advantages Beyond a Passport
Obtaining a second passport not only improves global mobility, but also provides a safety net for healthcare and education that can benefit future generations. For instance, let’s take Antigua and Barbuda as an example, which is a favored destination for Nigerian investors seeking citizenship through investment programs. Large Nigerian families consisting of six members can make a donation of just $150,000 USD + fees to the University of the West Indies and receive Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship for the entire family as well as one year of free tuition at the prestigious Caribbean university for one family member.
It is common for Nigerian families to save up their entire lives to send one child to study at a foreign university. In the United States, the cost for one international student can exceed $150,000. However, instead of spending this amount on a single individual, the entire family can benefit from the added value of an additional passport and a university education.
Furthermore, investors from the Federal Republic may find it appealing that Antigua and Barbuda allows visa-free travel to South Africa. Another option that could be advantageous is taking advantage of low-cost educational systems. Grenada, also known as the Caribbean spice isle, provides lower-cost tuition for Grenada passport holders, including foreign investors. Plus, there are even scholarship opportunities at St. George’s University.
Dual nationals in Caribbean countries can access healthcare throughout CARICOM, in addition to education. Similarly, the EU golden visa investment programs also offer similar benefits throughout the EU.
Let’s not skip over the major benefit of taxes and asset incentives. If you want to move to the Caribbean, you can obtain tax residency and safeguard your assets while also decreasing your tax rates legally. There are some cases where your tax rates can decrease to zero. Caribbean nations that offer CBI use a territorial based taxation system, meaning residents aren’t taxed on their worldwide income. Likewise, European countries with Golden Visa programs provide tax incentives for foreign residents generally for their first 10-15 years as residents.
Having dual nationality provides layers of advantages at different levels. From the lightness of spontaneous travel to the significance of having access to different educational systems.
A Luxury or a Necessity?
Many Nigerian nationals including business people, individuals, and families, apply for dual nationality as a way to escape civil unrest, reduce personal, economic, political, and financial risks, and establish a backup plan for uncertain times. Having unrestricted access to another country is not just desired by Nigeria’s wealthy and middle class.
The fact of the matter is that second passports aren’t sought out only by the world’s elite. Although investment programs were originally aimed at high net worth individuals, second passports have become an almost necessary asset for both the upper and middle classes. Even countries that typically receive immigrants, such as the United States and the United Kingdom, are experiencing growth in demand for second passports. Following Brexit, UK citizens have sought alternative options to maintain access to the EU, investing in programs in the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, Americans are increasingly interested in securing a second citizenship due to polarizing politics, a weakened economy, and safety concerns. As a result, in 2022, Americans have become Portugal’s top golden visa customers. In the globally connected world that we now live in, dual nationality is an essential tool to protect one’s freedom.
Interested in obtaining dual citizenship?
Citizenship by investment and residency by investment programs mend many challenges. If you’re looking to become a global citizen, travel visa free and secure second citizenship for yourself and your future generations — Lincoln Global Partners can help. Contact us today for a free 30 minute consultation and we’ll help you explore citizenship by investment and residency by investment options.
Kathryn Funk is a content writer at Lincoln Global Partners