In recent years, the overarching trend has been a vast increase in global mobility, with governments working tirelessly to implement visa-free and visa-on-arrival regimes. The result has been an increase in tourism, business opportunities, and stronger ties between friendly nations, as well as regular interaction between far-reaching corners of the world. Indeed, at the beginning of 2020, international travel and freedom of movement were luxuries taken for granted by many.
This all came to an abrupt close a mere few months ago, as the global community began to contend with the ultra-transmittable, and deadly, COVID-19. Aircrafts were grounded and borders were closed. Even in Europe’s Schengen Area – the very existence of which is prefaced on the abolition of internal borders – concerns over public health led to unprecedented limitations on internal travel. Coordinated restrictions were also placed on non-essential travel from third countries at the external borders of the EU+ area.
The current crisis demonstrates that, despite a clear pattern in favour of greater mobility, freedom to travel can be rapidly and unexpectedly disrupted due to factors beyond our control.
Yet there was a silver lining for those who, whether by accident of birth or their own initiative (for example, through partaking in a citizenship by investment programme) to hold two or more citizenships. Indeed, as borders shut to foreigners, citizens continued to be welcome in their home nations.
CS Global Partners’ March instalment of its monthly Visa-Free Digest provides a comprehensive list of the COVID-19 travel restrictions affecting travellers worldwide. Time and time again, it reports on countries imposing complete entry bans on foreign nationals. In some cases, it even reports on countries preventing foreign permanent residents from re-entering. However, with the same regularity, it showed that no restrictions were placed on a citizen’s ability to come home. The usefulness of a dual citizenship has rarely, at least since the Second World War, been so patent.
Mobility is not the only benefit of second citizenship that has become more pertinent in the current climate.
For those currently enduring a mandatory ‘lockdown’ in a country governed by a harsh, unstable political regime, for example, a second citizenship provides the opportunity to escape to a country where the financial security and physical safety are protected, and where ‘lockdown’ may be a less daunting prospect. The same can be said of those who must face the crisis in a country with an ill-equipped or overloaded healthcare system, and who seek to ensure they can rely on a fully functioning and well-prepared healthcare system.
For those who consider themselves to be global citizens, the COVID-19 pandemic represents an unexpected impediment to free movement, with even greater implications for vulnerable families and communities across the globe. A second citizenship can provide an insurance policy against factors usually beyond our control, ensuring that freedom and security remain firmly within grasp even in the face of disaster. With citizenship by investment, one thing that remains certain is that successful applicants will be welcomed into their country of second citizenship with open arms.