How to Get a Second Passport
Name a popular country and more likely than not, there’s a bustling Filipino community there. However, as many of us continue to think of ways to leave the country and work abroad, citiens of other countries are doing the opposite and are actually coming to live here in the Philippines. Case in point: Canadian entrepreneur and lawyer Samuel Harvey, whose company, Harvey Law Group, is engaged mainly in helping Filipinos and other nationalities answer the question of how to get a second passport.
A faster way to citizenship
Harvey is the director for business development in the Philippines of the Harvey Law Group, a global firm that specializes in what is termed as investment immigration. Essentially, instead of going through the usual process of obtaining citizenship in a country by staying x amount of years or submitting a gazillion requirements, people can achieve citizenship and obtain a second passport by investing in that country.
These investments can take the form of funds sent to a particular government for infrastructure development projects or even real-estate initiatives such as resorts and hotels.
“The citizenship by investment (CBI) is the fastest and the most affordable way to secure the applicant and his/her family’s future,” says Harvey. “CBI programs do not require the applicant and his/her family to uproot themselves nor reside in the country.”
So, what brought Harvey from Canada and decide to settle here in the Philippines? As it turns out, the Philippines is ripe for his company’s services. In addition to socio-political issues that forces many of us to seek greener pastures abroad, Filipinos, according to Harvey, are a perfect candidate for CBI programs due to one main factor: our weak passport.
The most current reports point to our passport having visa-free access to less than 70 countries, a sad figure compared to many of our Asian neighbors. “In the past years, a significant shift of power occurred, hence the most powerful passports now are all Asian passports (Japan, Singapore and South Korea) which can grant access to over 180 countries without the need of a visa,” says Harvey.
How to get a second passport
What it does it take to invest your way into a citizenship and get that coveted second passport in a fraction of the time it takes for traditional applications? A lot. “This will vary significantly depending on the chosen country, the family size and the number of eligible dependents. As an illustration, Grenada citizenship by investment can be secured via a contribution starting at $150,000,” says Harvey.
And that isn’t even the most expensive package. “Cyprus passport is one of the strongest in the world with visa-free access to over 170 countries, including Canada, New Zealand, UK and many others. The total cost for a family of four is roughly around 2.6 million euros.”
With such astronomical costs, one would assume that not many Filipinos would be interested in such a setup. Harvey and his team, however, has seen great growth in the Philippine market in recent years. In fact, during and after elections, Harvey says they record a 200 to 300 perent spike in inquiries from people wanting to obtain a second passport.
Harvey, however, admits the main challenge remains educating the market about the concept of CBI programs. “The Philippines is still a booming country with tremendous growth potential. But the process, the investment options, the tax implications and the details on the family members who can be included are all things that need to be properly disclosed and assessed.”
Harvey says another challenge is the stigma of immigration scams, so he says client education will continue to be their focus as they gain more and more clients interested in their services.
“To decide to secure a second (often times a third or even a fourth) passport or to go for a residency program is not an easy decision that you can make within a day and based on hearsay from friends—or Facebook,” he muses.
Harvey also sees to it that they’re only dealing with legitimate government officials and representatives. “It is even more important to highlight that we are licensed and authorized by all the governments of the countries (over 25 countries) we currently represent for their respective investment immigration programs.”
While love of country is something that must always be promoted and prioritized, those who leave can’t be faulted for choosing what’s best for them and their families. And if money is not an issue, it’s good to know that there’s a service that can fast-track that process and help you live those dreams. All it takes is a not-so-little investment.