‘Rising insecurity making Nigerians seek dual citizenship’
A dual citizenship and residency solution provider and Managing Partner of A.D. & Partners, Steve Iduh has proffered a professional and feasible approach to acquiring second citizenship.
In an interview with The Guardian, he noted that second residency or citizenship has become the gateway for individuals, families and businesses seeking international opportunities.
According to Iduh, it is necessity for second citizenship seekers to find out which country suits their circumstances and need before embarking on the process.
For those who do not know, there are residency programmes that qualify people for second citizenship based on investment. One of them is by making or owning an investment in a country or donating to government-approved funds in exchange for citizenship.
He told The Guardian: “With the citizenship programme, there is no long wait period; it’s a matter of days or months, especially in the Caribbean. Vanuatu citizenship takes only 45 days, while other Caribbean countries take between three to six months and the passport is in your hand. However, the regular residency programme could take as long as four to 10 years, depending on the programme and the country.”
On the validity of second citizenship, Iduh said: “Almost all Caribbean passport holders can travel to the UK, Schengen zone in Europe, some South American, African, and Middle East countries without a visa, or visa on arrival with such a passport. So, with your Caribbean passport, you can have access to an average of 145 countries with less hassle. Visa duration on such passports for countries like the USA (BI B2) also offers a significant advantage of 10 years unlike the two-year validity period on the Nigeria passport. Canada offers something interestingly different – it gives the applicant till the end of the validity of his or her passport. So, if your passport has up to 10 years to expire, you get the same duration as your visa. The-10 year visa reciprocity is what the Caribbean passport holders also benefit from applying for the US B1 B2.”
When asked why Nigerians go all out to seek second citizenship, he said: “There are a number of reasons people want dual citizenship and the top of the list is to be able to travel to different countries without restrictions. People are tired of going to the embassy for a visa. The stress of going to fill forms and queuing up for visas as well as the chances of also not getting the visas make people rather opt for a second citizenship. If you look at the upper class, you will realise that they do not want to relocate. Their life is here and their business is here, so for them, it is just about enhancing their mobility. What this means is that the passport gives you access to many countries without the need for a visa.
“Another point is that people are in search of safe haven – they want to stay where they do not really need to watch over their backs or their children. They want to be in a place where they are rested. I have a client who was so traumatised. He was travelling from Abuja to Benin and the family got kidnapped. So, rising insecurity is making Nigerians seek second residency. Education and high standard of living are other reasons. Access to good healthcare and safety necessitate a second residency.
On what qualifies seekers for the citizenship programmes, Iduh said: “ The pathways must be legal so that the application will not be rejected. It is necessary to ask the seeker the reason for seeking relocation. The reason we ask the question is because emigration is a serious thing. People should think through before making that choice. The fact that a number of people are moving to a particular country doesn’t mean it is what fits everyone. It is necessary to check the family background to see if any parent, grandparent, child or spouse of the seekers has another second citizenship. It is good to know if they have first or second degree in other countries, and also find out if they have affiliations or families in the country to which they want to relocate. This is to ensure that second residency/citizenship seekers get the best and move to where they can have some level of safe landing. Knowing the seekers’ background will help in knowing the most appropriate country for them. After a background check and it is discovered that a person’s profile doesn’t fit the country he wants to apply for, he can be advised to look somewhere else. After figuring out the appropriate pathway, due diligence can be carried out on the second citizenship seekers by getting their details. Usually the details are put in the Interpol database, FBI database, amongst others to ensure that the seekers are free of any crime, not politically exposed, and do not have money laundry issues. However, if they are being flagged for these crimes, it is advised that the process is discontinued.”
On the top countries to which Nigerians relocate, Iduh said: “Based on my experience, the UK is the top destination, then the US. A lot of top professionals and business owners prioritise quick access; it takes six hours from here to the UK, which is in the same time zone with Nigeria. So having to quickly travel and do things at the same time zone is a big factor for them. They want to be able to carry on with their work or business in Nigeria while they are spending time with their families at the same time without the hassles of time difference. The second factor that drives migration to the UK is that people think it’s a serene and sane environment. There is no gun violence, racism is very minimal, and there is a huge community of Nigerians in the UK. Healthcare and education for their children is also a major consideration. As an international student in the UK some years back, I paid about 25,000 pounds whereas those who had the British passport were paying between 6,000 to 8,000 pounds depending on the school.”
According to the expert, one of the challenges in the process is some people not coming out clean on their situation when asked necessary background questions.
“Some people can be insincere. A guy did something when he was young and was arrested, prosecuted and jailed in the US, but he told us everything that happened. So, when we started working with him, we knew what we were dealing with and how to handle the situation. He literally told us the crime he committed outside the country and how he was deported after serving his jail term. So, we started by addressing that issue as he was banned for 10-years. This was a lot of work for us to do but we were able to crack it because he was sincere. There was another person that we worked with and we asked him all the background questions and he said everything was okay. However, when we did our background check on him, it was discovered that a lot of things backfired on him. It is difficult to represent these kinds of people because they are not ready to come out straight. This is one of the major challenges – as we don’t have the access to check all countries to know who has been denied a visa or not, although we have for some,” Iduh explained.
On the most difficult country in terms of acquiring citizenship, the expert said: “The USA is most challenging as opposed to the UK and the Canada that have the point-based system immigration. What that means is that you get marks for each requirement. For instance, if you meet their requirement on a certain amount of money in your account, you earn some marks for that. Another mark is allotted for you having a degree and so on. There are different requirements to which they have now allotted marks. If you score above 80, you know you will get it. Canada also has a point-based system. However, the US is not point-based, they grant passports or visas based on their assessment on the application. Also when you are rejected, they do not tell you why. The attorneys in the US have to write to the immigration to find out why a person was rejected. You may have an idea on what makes you qualify under certain categories but you do not know what may make them reject your application.”