The growing number of Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian nationals looking for a second citizenship

The growing number of Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian nationals looking for a second citizenship

3rd April 2023

Amidst the political instability and geopolitical conflict over Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, there is a clamour among its citizens to secure second citizenship in a foreign country that could somehow offer respite for them.

Because of the situation in these countries, the concept of investment migration has taken on a different tone. They seek the option that their money can bring them. On top of the list is safety and security for themselves and their families. The second would be protection for their wealth. Because wars and unstable environments threaten the health of any business, moving business and capital to other countries provides the assurance that is badly needed.

Russians can hold dual citizenship by law therefore Russians are able to hold two citizenships legally and they have been applying for citizenship programs for many years way before the war started. For example, Russians topped the list of foreign nationals obtaining Cypriot citizenship when the program was still running. Now this need has been boosted by the war.

The outflows among the wealthy have been driven by the need to find security, safety and the prospect of peace. According to a in 2022 alone, an estimated 15,000 Russian millionaires have left the country. This represents 15% of the HNWI population. Not far behind are the millionaires from Ukraine. About 2,800 of them are estimated to have fled their homeland by the end of 2022, a staggering 42% of Ukraine’s HNWI population.

Among the countries that are favoured by Russian HNWIs are, to name a few:

  • Israel
  • the UAE
  • Australia
  • Singapore
  • Switzerland

For Ukrainian HNWIs, Poland is the top choice. The Financial Times has reported how affluent Ukrainian refugees have boosted the Polish luxury businesses with their penchant for the upscale lifestyle involving:

  • premium real estate properties
  • private schools
  • cosmetic surgery clinic
  • restaurants
  • beauty salons

In Belarus, the diaspora started in 2020 amidst the political crisis, with 150,000 Belarusians leaving the country. This represents 3-5% of Belarus’ workforce of 4.3 million people. The majority have moved to neighbouring Poland, with 1980 asylum applications from Belarusian citizens between September 2020 to October 2021, with more numbers in the past two years.


Sanctions imposed on Russians and Belarusians 

With the continuous onslaught of Ukraine by the Russians, several countries have put down sanctions to prevent Russians from entering their shores and, more importantly, for the wealthy to prevent them from getting the golden passport. The European Commission appealed to its 26 member nations to temporarily restrict visa issuance and restrict other immigration rules for Russian citizens.

According to a press release in September 2022, the EU states that “These guidelines call on Member States’ consulates and border authorities to apply a higher degree of security checks and a coordinated approach when carrying out individual assessments of Russian citizens’ visa applications and controls at the Union’s external borders.”

Some countries in the Caribbean, such as St Kitts & Nevis, Grenada, Dominica, St Lucia and Antigua & Barbuda have also suspended processing applications from Russia, Belarus and Ukraine. These countries have been unable to process applications for Ukrainians mainly due to poor access to information in the country and difficulty to conduct satisfactory due diligence because of the on-going conflict. Grenada and Antigua & Barbuda have lifted the ban in July 2022 until recently, the ban is back in place for Russia and Belarus.


Renouncing Russian citizenship 

If a person chooses to renounce his or her Russian citizenship, the process usually takes up to six months. The renunciation of Russian citizenship is a procedure usually available in Russian consulates worldwide.

According to Forum Daily, these are the steps for renunciation of Russian citizenship:

  1. Valid foreign passport of a citizen of the Russian Federation with copies of pages with personal data.
  2. If the applicant changes his last name or first name or refuses to be patronymic, all documents confirming these changes are submitted.
  3. Statement of the desire to renounce citizenship (two copies).
  4. A document confirming the legal residence of a Russian citizen in the territory of another country (passport of this country, residence permit, etc).
  5. Deregistration document at the place of residence in the Russian Federation.
  6. A document of the authorised body of a foreign state confirming that the applicant has weather citizenship or guarantees of its provision if the applicant renounces the citizenship of the Russian Federation.
  7. Three photographs of the applicant.
  8. Document of the tax authority of the Russian Federation on the absence of tax arrears.


What foreign nationals look for in a second passport

The growing demand for a second passport is driven by the need for people to have options that are not available to them in their home countries. Political and economic stability, tax incentives, immigration policies and overall quality of life are among the primary benchmarks in choosing a second country.


For those people affected by the war, they would like to prioritize the ability to move freely around the globe, a second passport that accords them with mobility in and out of numerous key destinations is worth investing in. They need to remove their families from fragile situations and it very much helps not having restrictions on what countries they can access at least to find a temporary solution until they find a more permanent one. Most CBI programmes come with the promise of visa-free travel to more than 100 countries, among them are vital locations for international investors, such as the EU Schengen states, the UAE, UK, Singapore, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, just to name a few.


Safety is understandably a motivation to seek that second passport when there’s political instability in one’s home country. Countries that score high on the Global Peace Index, such as Australia and Portugal, attract a lot of attention.


Financial health also plays a great part in choosing the country of destination. The investment options open to foreign nationals tip the scale in their favour. With government-sanctioned projects as approved investment projects, foreigners fund assurance that their money will be put to profitable use. Most Caribbean countries that have CIP programmes have little or no taxes on income, real estate, gifts and inheritance, making them ideal locations to secure wealth.


A second citizenship can also include your children, provided their ages still fall within the requirements to be declared your dependents. With the second passport, your children are free to study and eventually work in that country. A passport from an EU member state gives the holder the right to live, study and work among the member states. This is one of the main reasons parents choose EU nations for their second citizenship because this gives their children access to limitless possibilities for study and eventual employment. Many of these nations have programs that encourage graduates to stay and consider working in that country.


A fresh start

Coming from a country rife with political and economic unrest easily translates to a lack of security for one’s life, family, wealth and future. With the decision to move to another country that offers the opposite, a new benefit suddenly becomes available: hope for a brighter tomorrow. Definitely worth anyone’s investment.



Source - Citizeship Invest