Dual citizenship and a second passport are much more than paperwork; in today’s world, they’re a currency that buys rights and privileges, and there are a few very effective ways that nearly anyone can leverage to make the power move of becoming a dual citizen. 

Dual citizens have a significant advantage over everyone else – to begin with, only a genuine global citizen has the capacity or ability to genuinely capitalize on a global marketplace and international banking.

Entrepreneurs, investors, and families that restrict themselves to solely what they have been given also deny themselves their share of what they could have.

Second and multiple citizenship is a form of sovereignty – a force that alters the balance of life, business, and success in favor of those who wield it. 

Astons is an expert and industry leader in dual citizenship, second passports, Golden Visas, and the best Plan B money can buy – so here are the most effective ways to empower your life and the lives of generations to come.

How to gain dual citizenship and a second passport

The foundational requirement for having more than one passport is to have more than one citizenship – having dual citizenship.

Acquiring multiple citizenships may seem monumental, but in today’s world, it is relatively easy. 

Every country creates its own avenues through which non-citizens can acquire citizenship. 

However, a few methods are the most common and typically the most straightforward and allow virtually anyone to acquire any citizenship they wish.

Here are four of the most advantageous and effective methods.

Investment migration

Investment migration, also known as citizenship by investment and Golden Visa programs, is the most common method for acquiring dual citizenship and a second passport.

Although investment migration has existed since the early 1980s, its popularity as a channel for acquiring a second passport has grown exponentially since the turn of the century.

Today, investment migration represents the go-to option for entrepreneurs, investors, and families worldwide.

Citizenship by investment

Citizenship by investment programs [CIP or CBI] is very well known, but unfortunately, for inaccurate reasons.

Many people refer to these programs as:

  • Buy a passport
  • Golden Passport
  • Second passport programs
  • Corruption schemes 

Regardless of what you have read in tabloids and the politically-controlled media, none of those are accurate.

Citizenship programs are a form of expedited naturalization to gain dual citizenship – no CIPs provide a passport as part of their program. 

These programs are designed to attract foreign direct investment [FDI] by offering a faster processing time to citizenship. 

For example, an investor could buy a house in Turkey, then move to Turkey, acquire a long-term visa, reside there for five years, and then apply for citizenship.

Or, thanks to the Turkey citizenship by investment program, that same investor can buy the house through the CBI program and get citizenship within 6 months.

Citizenship programs are basic investment + ROI equations: countries create an investment framework to foster and nurture FDI and reward investors with an expedited naturalization process. 

A good comparison is the Fast Track Security options that airports offer – you will not get anything through security using a Fast Track that would be stopped during the normal process. You simply pay for the speed of getting through the process. 

And, none of the CBI solutions offered by Astons have a language requirement – if you only know English, you will be fine. 

In more straightforward terms, countries allow entrepreneurs, investors, and families to invest money in the country – such as buying a home – in exchange for citizenship.

Each country and each program implements its own investment options and degree of due diligence.

The most common investment options are:

  • Real estate
  • Starting a business
  • ESG fund contribution – primarily the Caribbean Five

Once an investor’s CIP application is approved, the applicants are naturalized as citizens of the country; the investor and their family now possess all the rights and privileges any citizen does – including applying for a passport.

Once the CBI process is completed, Astons provides our clients the convenience of applying for passports on their behalf. 

While the passport service is separate from the citizenship program, Astons includes it in the same contractual relationship [at no additional charge] with our clients to make life easier for them. 

Residency by investment [RBI] – Golden Visas

Similar to CIPs, a Golden Visa provides investors with residency. 

Sometimes residency is permanent [as with the Cypriot Golden Visa] and sometimes temporary but renewable [as with the Portuguese Golden Visa].

Nevertheless, the programs operate identically – each country creates an investment framework and rewards the investor with residency.

One significant advantage of a residency by investment program is the elimination of bureaucracy. 

For example, applying for a visa and dealing with the bureaucracy in Spain has been known to cause panic attacks, insomnia, and migraines, not to mention that the process takes forever – ask any post-Brexit British expat.

However, all of that is eliminated in the Spanish Golden Visa program.

Not only does Astons handle the entire process for our clients, but Astons has established relations with the Spanish government, and Golden Visa applications are typically approved in 3-6 months – completely hassle-free.

And, as with CIPs, the degree of due diligence for a Golden Visa differs by the country and program.

The Greek Golden Visa has the most privacy-focused and least intrusive application process in regards to personal and financial privacy.

The most popular and lucrative investment options are:

  • Real estate
  • Starting a business
  • Capital investment
  • Private Equity funds

The real estate and private equity fund options are the most popular and tend to provide the best financial ROI along with residency and a pathway to citizenship. 

The Astons Portugal Private Equity Fund investment option is poised to be among the EU’s most lucrative Golden Visa options in 2024.

While Golden Visas reward entrepreneurs, investors, and families with residency, they can lead to citizenship – this is an entirely independent process from the Golden Visa program. It is completely optional and involves eligibility and criteria not associated with the Golden Visa program.

It is worth noting that while there is no language requirement for the Golden Visa, depending upon the country, eligibility for acquiring citizenship can include a language requirement [even if only at an elementary level]. 

Pros of investment migration

  1. Astons handles the entire process from beginning to passport
  2. Citizenship or residency includes ROI 
  3. Most program applications only require a few months
  4. ESG-conscious investors can make a meaningful contribution
  5. Standardized process that is the same for everyone everywhere 
  6. Eliminates bureaucratic nightmares
  7. Availability is worldwide, with the best programs in the Caribbean and Europe
  8. No pre-existing connection to the country is required
  9. A new legal alternative identity separate and distinct from your native one

Cons of investment migration

  1. Most expensive method 
  2. Some programs have enhanced due diligence compared to other methods
  3. Having a government job or a special security clearance can complicate this process

Dual citizenship by descent

Citizenship by descent is a trendy option and a social media buzzword. 

Not every country offers this route to citizenship, and the majority of the countries that do are in Europe. 

Citizenship by descent is unique in that it is not a naturalization process but a recognition process. The government is recognizing the fact that you were born a citizen.

This means that you were born with dual citizenship, and once recognized, most countries [such as Italy] issue you a new birth certificate along with your new identity card and the right to a passport. 

And because you were born a citizen, the only reason to be denied is typically based upon the determination of whether the citizenship passed or not.

However, some countries’ consulates, courts, and government officials operate by different rule books – again, Italy is an example. 

So, it is possible for a person’s recognition application to be denied by a consulate, but that same application would have been approved if the person had moved to the country and applied directly with a government official.  

Most commonly, this route tends to be the most convenient but also can be the most technical – as numerous real-life issues can complicate this process dramatically, such as [but not an exhaustive list]:

  • Divorces
  • Children born out of wedlock
  • Adoptions
  • Male vs female ancestors
  • Naturalizations
  • Serving in foreign armies
  • Having a government job or a special security clearance
  • The year a person was born
  • How many generations back you need to go

If a person is eligible for citizenship by descent, there are typically various ways to handle the process. 

The most common ways to process a citizenship by descent claim are:

  • Through a consulate in your home country
  • Moving and gaining residency in your ancestor’s country
  • Through the courts of your ancestor’s country

The costs and time frames associated with this method vary greatly depending on which countries are involved, how much documentation is needed, and which processing method is used. 

In addition, the method you choose to process your recognition claim will also dictate the criteria and likelihood of success. . 

Pros of citizenship by descent

  1. It’s not a naturalization process, but a recognition process [if you have a valid claim, you were born a dual citizen]
  2. Can be the cheapest option
  3. It can be the fastest option
  4. Typically, no background checks are required

Cons of citizenship by descent

  1. Not all countries recognize lineage
  2. Being born in the wrong year can terminate the process
  3. How you apply can determine success or failure
  4. Some documentation can be difficult to acquire
  5. Female ancestors may make you ineligible
  6. There must be an actual connection to the country in your family lineage 
  7. Some countries limit the number of generations you can go back

Dual citizenship by marriage

A common and well-known method for gaining a second passport and dual citizenship is simply marrying into one.

Needless to say, this is not an option that is available to everyone.

The very definition and laws governing marriage can impact this option- for example, same-sex marriages may be legal in one spouse’s country but not the other, and the law of the country you are applying in is the controlling law. 

In most countries, citizenship by marriage is treated simply as a form of regular naturalization but with lower eligibility time frames. 

Most commonly, the applying spouse must provide all the typical background checks and may even need to prove language proficiency. 

The legal fact of marriage does not guarantee any outcome. In fact, in 2022, the United States denied nearly 15% of I-130 applications – the first step for a spousal visa.

Pros of citizenship by marriage

  1. Virtually every country offers this option

Cons of citizenship by marriage

  1. This may not apply to all marriages
  2. May require language proficiency
  3. Being married does not guarantee a positive outcome
  4. Divorce could affect residency status, thus rendering a person ineligible for citizenship
  5. Cultural aspects and expectations of marriage are typically part of the eligibility criteria

Dual citizenship by naturalization 

Finally, there is the old-fashioned way to dual citizenship – naturalization.

There is nothing wrong with this method; for some people, it may be their only genuine option.

Virtually every country on the planet has some form of naturalization process, and very often, there are a variety of visa options available to jump-start the process, such as:

  • Start-up visas
  • Digital Nomad visas
  • Retirement visas
  • Long-term residency visas
  • Study visas
  • Employment visas

Depending upon the country, the requirements and eligibility for the original visa and the subsequent citizenship process vary dramatically. 

There is no standard rule of thumb.

For those seeking EU residency, Portugal is hailed as the best option and the fastest residency to citizenship option in the European Union.

The time frame to gain Portuguese citizenship from residency is only five years – and for those that leverage the Portugal Golden Visa, the one year [approximate] that it takes to get your Golden Visa application approved counts toward those five years. 

In early 2024, Cyprus opened a 3-year route to residency; however, eligibility is only open to holders of select visas. 

Pros of citizenship by naturalization

  1. An option that is typically available to anyone
  2. There are a variety of ways to start the process
  3. It tends to have minimal financial requirements 

Cons of citizenship by naturalization

  1. Typically, the longest route to citizenship
  2. Bureaucracy can be a nightmare
  3. Process can be stressful
  4. The process can be very time-consuming
  5. Language requirements are common

Dual citizenship as an asset

In the 21st century, citizenship is an asset and sovereignty – the more you have, the wealthier and freer you are.

The ability to travel using two separate passports on the same trip is only a single advantage of dual citizenship and implements a degree of privacy and security that no other travel method can. 

Thankfully, unlike in the last century, in the 21st century, there are numerous ways that allow virtually anyone to make this power move.

Astons – The ultimate power move

Astons has been an industry leader in the citizenship by investment and Golden Visa space for over 30 years.

The Astons’ team of industry leaders and international experts have helped mold the industry into what it is today and continue to make the power plays for our clients that make the industry the asset it is.

For every entrepreneur, investor, and family seeking:

  • Enhanced independence
  • Portfolio diversification
  • Generational Legacy
  • The best Plan B money can buy

Schedule a Free Confidential and Comprehensive Consultation with Astons today. 

Our expert team will analyze your specific wants, dreams, goals, and demands and then provide a list of solutions that satisfy them so you can choose the best option for you and your family.


Frequently Asked Questions

Do the different methods through which citizenship is acquired result in different legal statuses of citizenship?

Whichever method you choose, or are eligible for, does not affect the end result – there is only one legal status of citizenship.

Thus, whether you acquire citizenship through investment or citizenship through descent, the resulting citizenship and passport are identically the same – legally and constitutionally – as citizens who were born and raised in the country.

There is absolutely no legal difference.

Do all countries offer citizenship by descent?
Which methods have a language proficiency requirement?
Once I acquire citizenship, how do I get a passport?