According to specialists, the Vanuatu passport offers the best value for money Credit: Instagram

PARIS.- Money doesn't do everything. But it helps a lot. That is the message that emerges from the attitude of countless millionaires that, faced with travel restrictions due to the Covid-19, They use any subterfuge to cross borders and take refuge in the safest countries.

When it all started, many super-rich believed that they could violate the rules established in various countries. For example, that group of Russian and Croatian citizens – accompanied by beautiful women – who paid $ 125,000 for a private jet which transported them on April 4 from the British Farnborough Airport to Marseille. But the final objective, to pass all the confinement in Villa Alang Alang, a paradisiacal mansion facing the waters of the Mediterranean, abruptly ended with the dozen gendarmes and border police waiting on the track, forcing them to close the doors, turn on the jet's turbines and return to where they had come from.

Far from giving up, billionaires from poor countries buy now residence permits and passports at a gold price, a quintessential resource that ensures you can travel anywhere in the world free of viruses and with excellent health services.

"The great fortunes of Third World countries were blocked overnight in their country in the midst of an epidemic, when they have the habit of having themselves cured abroad," explains Konstatin Kaminsky, director of the Astons society in London, which offers "solutions" in citizenship.

In those cases, the only option when closing borders is buy a right of residence: a "plan B" only reserved for the wealthy. In that market, there are passports for all profiles. The most expensive are those that allow access to the largest number of countries. For that reason, the prestige of the sesame granted by the United States – whose citizens cannot enter Europe – collapsed in a few days.

More business

According to specialists, Vanuatu's passport offers the best value for money. Awarded by postal services in just one month for 130,000 euros, it is one of the cheapest and fastest to obtain. With it, American businessmen can travel to China, as the relationship between Washington and Beijing worsens day by day. The problem is that it only grants a six-month residency, insufficient when it comes to escaping the pandemic.

Strangled by debt, the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia issued obligations at zero rate, but accompanied by a passport, if the subscriber agrees to invest $ 250,000 in a six-year period. The island even offers a second passport to the person you choose. Abandoned by tourists, Barbados, in turn, offers a one-year visa to those who earn more than $ 50,000 per year., to engage in teleworking.

But the best resource is residence permits, especially European ones. And after those on the European island of Malta sold out, the best of all is that of its neighbor Cyprus. Near the Middle East, with a population of 1.2 million inhabitants, on the Mediterranean island there were only 1000 cases of Covid-19 And their hospitals were never overloaded. The residence permit, which can become a passport of the European Union (EU) after a few months, is obtained in exchange for two million dollars of real estate investment.


A bather stands on the seashore as a jet makes its descent to Cyprus Larnaca International Airport on August 1, 2020 Source: AFP

In the citizenship industry, each crisis represents a business occasion. Between the pandemic and the economic-political crisis in Lebanon, requests multiplied in recent months: "All those families that were considering the possibility of acquiring a new nationality decided this year," says Konstatin Kaminsky.

Clients from countries in crisis generally want to do these things with discretion. They do this by contacting companies like Astons, associated with local banks that, in small meetings, invite diplomats to explain the advantages of their countries. Once the decision is made, Astons will put the potential client in contact with attorneys at the future place of residence.

"A second citizenship is much more than a lifestyle. It allows you to stop depending on the political, economic, social and environmental conditions of your country of residence", can be read in the Astons advertising brochure.

The argument was used by The Netherlands, which proposes a so-called "golden visa" against an investment of 1.25 million euros in a start-up, with the possibility of obtaining nationality after five years.

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