European Union citizenship is for sale. After years of controversy, the European Commission declared that member states are free to sell citizenship to any person for any price. At the commission’s November 13 meeting, they addressed the criticism that member countries have been facing over recent passports-for-purchase schemes.
The European Commission’s home affairs spokesperson, Michele Cercone, said that, “[m]ember states have full sovereignty to decide to whom and how they grant their nationality.”
In other words, if Merkel wants to sell German passports for €1, she is free to do so legally. Of course, passports are far more valuable than that and can fetch millions of Euros on the international market. In a time where European countries are struggling to get out of their own economic disasters, many countries are finding citizenship pricing schemes to be the perfect fundraisers.
If you have ever wanted to be a citizen of the great nation of Malta and obtain European citizenship, now is your time. While the paperwork and waiting time has been greatly reduced, you still need to have more than a few Euro to spare. On November 12, Malta announced that passports are available for €650,000 ($873K.) Walk into the government office with the cash and you can walk out with a second passport that will open all kinds of new doors for you.
The new Maltese passport market is expected to bring in €30 million ($40.3m) during its first year and upwards up €300 million ($403m) per year in future. For a nation of only 420,000 people, this is a major economic boost.
You might expect such a population increase to overwhelm the tiny island state but it is unlikely. After “investors” receive their Maltese passports, they are free to live, work, and claim benefits in any one of the European Union’s 27 member states. So, you can take your new passport and head to Paris without ever setting foot in Malta.
Political opposition in Malta has heavily criticized the passport scheme but it’s nothing new. European Union citizenship and EU passports are for sale everywhere from the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea.
Austrian passports are available for a hefty donation of €3 million ($4.03m) but Portugal is a bit less pricey. For a 1 million Euro charitable donation, you can begin the five year process toward citizenship. Anyone who lost more than €3 million ($4.03m) in the EU bail-out also has a home waiting for them in Cyprus.
While many European countries shy away from the direct sale of passports, they often provide legal residency for foreigners. After five years of legal residency, passport applications are typically accepted. You can move on this fast track to passports in Bulgaria for €370,000 ($487k) or in Latvia for just €75,000 ($100k).
It’s not just an Eastern European passport scheme though. If you purchase a €160,000 ($215k) home in Spain, you become an automatic resident. Eligible homes in Ireland are a bit more expensive but foreigners can be on their way to a passport for €500,000 ($671k).
Similar citizenship schemes have been going on in North America for a number of years as well. In Canada, an investment of $600,000 will get you a residency permit and a green card in the United States actually costs a bit less than that even. If you choose the right business market, a $500,000 will give you legal residency.
European Union citizenship is for sale, While it is all well outside the reach of the average would-be immigrant, the new passport schemes are a boon for international investors and cash-strapped governments.
By: Nicci Mende