The most popular and by FAR the EASIEST residency program in the world attracted over 300,000 immigrants in the month of December alone.
And for the entirety of 2023, it drew over 2.5 million people.
There’s a reason why this residency program is so popular:
1. The government makes it absurdly easy for incoming foreigners.
There is practically zero paperwork, no criminal background check, and no health inspection. You don’t have to buy property. You don’t have to make an investment. You don’t have to demonstrate proof of income. It’s really simple. Basically you just have to show up.
2. It is available to all nationalities and all ages.
Unlike many residency programs which favor some nationalities over others, or have age restrictions, this one is available to literally anyone on the planet. And, per the above, the program’s easy procures apply equally to everyone.
3. The government rolls out the red carpet for new residents.
Foreigners who become new residents are eligible almost immediately to apply for, and receive, lucrative government benefits… ranging from free healthcare to childhood education. Many are even eligible for free housing and complimentary bus transportation to the nation’s most prominent cities.
So what country holds claim to this unbelievably great, super-easy residency program?
Why, the United States of America, of course.
The only catch is that it’s only available to people who walk across the southern border.
Rather ironically, however, foreigners who take a more civilized approach and actually, you know, apply for a proper immigration visa, are subjected to a Byzantine, highly bureaucratic, multi-year process that would test the patience of even the most enlightened Buddhist monk.
It is quite a testament to a nation’s priorities that they make things so difficult for talented and qualified people who actually follow the rules, while simultaneously welcoming everyone else whose sole qualification is a willingness to sashay across the southern border.
For its part, Europe is making a valiant effort to not be completely outdone by the United States with respect to illegal immigration.
Boatloads of refugees continue arriving each day to the old continent, much to the delight of European politicians who willfully ignore the spike in rape, violent crime, and mostly peaceful protesters chanting Allahu Akbar in the streets of London, Paris, and Berlin.
At least Europe (in most cases) still makes it relatively easy to legally become a resident.
Portugal, for example, launched its ‘Golden Visa’ program in 2012, offering very favorable residency terms to foreigners who made an investment in the country.
For years, the most popular investment was the purchase of real estate. So foreigners could obtain Portuguese (and hence European) residency by buying a sun-soaked villa on the coast.
This program resulted in billions of dollars worth of transactions… and the surge in demand (much of which was from Chinese nationals seeking European residency) caused property prices to spike.
Locals complained about the high cost of housing, so the government eventually changed the program and eliminated real estate purchase as an investment option.
You can still obtain Portuguese residency by making other investments in the country (like venture capital). But Portugal is a great example that, if a good residency opportunity presents itself, it will not last forever.
Fortunately, plenty of other countries have some Golden Visa type residency program, including Greece and Malta in Europe, and Panama in Central America.
Article 193 of Panama’s immigration law, for example, allows foreigners to apply for permanent residency with a real estate purchase of at least $300,000. And $300,000 still goes a very long way in Panama, where homes and condos still sell for $100 to $200 per square foot.
Then there are countries which couldn’t care less if you make an investment.
Mexico is a great example; you can obtain Mexican residency simply for demonstrating that you have sufficient savings or income to live in the country— which isn’t a very high bar.
There are so many more examples we could go into (and we have a lot of great free material on the topic). But in general it’s worth noting that there is very little downside to having a second residency because it means that you’ll always have another place to go.
How crucial is it to have another place to go, i.e. a backup plan? Hopefully it will never be crucial at all. But if the day ever comes and you need to leave immediately, having legal residency somewhere else (ideally in a place you like to spend time) will be extremely valuable for your family.
There are other benefits as well.
In many cases, your legal residency in a foreign country can also set you up to eventually apply for naturalization… meaning you could one day obtain a second passport.
This is a pretty great benefit given that a second passport confers all sorts of additional privileges, including the right to movement and visa free travel just for starters.
Additionally, citizenship can often be passed to future generations. So your grandchildren’s grandchildren could be entitled to the same passport that you’re able to obtain after a few years of legal residency.
Perhaps the biggest benefit of having a second residency and/or citizenship is simply having additional options. More options not only mean more freedom, but it also mean less risk. And there’s a lot of that in the world these days.
Risk is something that, as investors, we try to hedge. In business, we make efforts to reduce it. And even in our personal lives we buy insurance policies to protect our homes, vehicles, and valuables from certain risks.
Residency and citizenship is like an insurance policy— it’s a hedge against certain sovereign and lifestyle risks.
Many people have a very insular view and think to themselves, “why would I ever need to do anything outside of my home country?”
This is a naive, almost medieval view of the world. Besides, having a second passport or residency doesn’t mean that you have to do anything. That’s the whole point: it’s just an option in case you ever need it. If you don’t, you’ll hardly be worse off.
I read recently that prominent investor Ray Dalio received a passport from the United Arab Emirates, no doubt due to his political connections and strong economic ties to Abu Dhabi.
(I’d also bet that, for a guy as sophisticated as Dalio, this is probably not his second passport… but probably his third, fourth, or even fifth.)
But you don’t have to be a billionaire to obtain a second passport. There are several ways.
For example, many European countries grant citizenship by descent to those who can trace their ancestors back to places such as Italy, Greece, Ireland, Poland, Lithuania, and others.
Others offer passports through citizenship by investment programs, from small Caribbean countries like St. Lucia, to large major nations like Turkey.
I think there’s going to be more of these to come. I’d be willing to bet, as I’ve written before, that we could see one in Argentina, which would be a really smart move for that country.
And of course, you could opt to naturalize.
Mexico, for example, offers very favorable terms. After five years as a resident, with about 18 months of the last two years spent living there, you become eligible to apply for Mexican citizenship.
In Brazil you can apply for citizenship after four years as a permanent resident. In Peru and Argentina, it’s as little as two years.
The world is a big place and you have plenty of options.
And it’s important to keep them in mind and recognize that in most cases there’s no downside to doing this.
It’s like having a free ‘put option’ in finance, or a really cheap insurance policy. And in a world like ours, that makes a lot of sense right now.