In something that seemed unthinkable a little less than a year ago, the COVID-19 pandemic achieved what no one had achieved before: to put the brakes on the post-globalization mobility system, the one that had us all traveling from the Philippines to Havana as if nothing had happened. This has been added to political processes such as Brexit, which has put more impassable lines on the world maps. At least at Echeverría Abogados, this has got us thinking about how this is going to affect the nearest global future. And, above all, to the areas with which we work the most in the firm: mobility and citizenship.

Here we summarize some of the conclusions we have reached. To sum up, the conclusion is simple: the citizenships of certain countries are becoming an increasingly precious commodity. Even at a commercial level. Having money gives you more options to access them. But our mission is to help you, no matter how much money you have. And we can do it. 

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A first step in the opposite direction

First of all, it would seem that blocking unrestricted mobility reinforced national identities, contrary to what, in our opinion, ended up causing the pandemic in terms of citizenship.

Because in the early days of living with COVID-19, many individuals had no choice but to return to their home countries when they closed their borders in an attempt to prevent the virus from spreading around the world. These were not just interrupted vacations, but lives with their work or studies that, for various reasons, resided abroad. And, at least for the most part, these cases sought refuge in the places where they had citizenship, their home. Traditional element of refuge.

This, as we stated earlier, was also in addition to other processes of retreat in the concept of globalization, such as Brexit. And so, it seemed that COVID-19 was moving in that direction. But it did not.

Revaluation of citizenship

Yes, the effect of the pandemic on mobility demonstrated, as it had not been seen for a long time, the importance of citizenship in its conventional conception.

Historically, this concept has had to do with where a person is from. But now, citizenship has come to guarantee the right to enter the country of which one has a passport, an ID card, a residence permit. And, above all: access to its services — vaccines, health system, level of restrictions — and lifestyle.

And yes, today, this right, perhaps somewhat devalued by the effects of years of globalization, has gained in importance. But like everything else in a capitalist society, it has also opened up a market of nationalities.

The citizenship market

Until COVID-19, it was the case that the wealthiest individuals have always enjoyed significant global mobility privileges. Where your passport came from was of little consequence as long as it was first class. But the pandemic changed that reality. The border was closed to everyone, regardless of money.

So one of the unintended consequences of the pandemic is that it accelerated pre-existing trends toward citizenship acquisition. Why? Because transnational elites seek to insure themselves against future events such as this pandemic.

Thus, while COVID-19 is making people feel their citizenship more than before, it is also giving people more reasons to turn citizenships into business transaction items.

Americans who have been banned from entering Sardinia may, for example, follow the example of their compatriot and Google founder Eric Schmidt, who applied for Cypriot citizenship, an alternative to move, without problems, in the Europe of the future. Others will consider additional citizenship as a kind of health insurance against future pandemics. Without going any further, the incidence of COVID-19 in Malta has been relatively low, and New Zealand has managed the pandemic very well. And both countries have a pathway to citizenship for investors.

"Why not become a New Zealander?" many will say. All it takes, really, is money.

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Other methods for the less wealthy

Of course, this citizenship by investment is restricted to the very wealthy, but financial mortals can also acquire other citizenships by other methods: ancestry, marriage and other eligibility factors. And just as we at Echeverría Abogados cannot help you with the financial resources to acquire citizenship, in this case we have a lot to say. We are the perfect lawyers to apply for citizenship in Spain by ancestry, marriage or other factors that do not have to do exclusively with the wallet. Just take a look at our article: What do we know about the Grandchildren and Great-grandchildren Bill? (not yet approved).

It also happens that states will no longer have any incentive to repress instrumentalized citizenship. If, prior to COVID-19, they were already well on the way to universal acceptance of dual nationality - a key element of instrumentalized citizenship - there is now zero indication that this acceptance will be reversed. Quite the contrary.

The growing number of people who enjoyed a globalized life will probably want to resume that life sooner or later. With the distribution of effective vaccines, travel restrictions will ease and interstate mobility will return. Citizenship may still have great significance in its traditional conception as a marker of home. But by the look of things, more and more people will acquire additional citizenships to protect their global privileges in the post-COVID era.

That is, at least, what we at Echeverría Abogados think. And we are ready to face these new challenges and problems that the future will bring.

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