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UK, US preferred by Nigerians seeking dual citizenships – Iduh

Steve Iduh is the managing partner of A.D & Partners, a firm specialising in global citizenship and residency programmes. Iduh has helped A.D & Partners establish a robust residency and citizenship portfolio offerings from Malta, Germany, Austria, Latvia, Slovenia, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Montenegro, UK, US, Canada and Caribbean countries. In this interview with IFEOMA OKEKE, he speaks on reasons why Nigerians thrive to get dual citizenship, amongst other issues.

Based on your experience, what top countries do you think Nigerians are relocating to and what is driving this?

Based on my experience and the clients that I handle, the UK is the top destination, then the US. A lot of my client base are top professionals or business owners, one thing that is important to them is quick access. From here to the UK it takes six hours. It is also in the same time zone. For my client base, 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 because if you are in the UK for example, it is when the UK wakes up, that Nigeria wakes up. So if you have staff or bosses to report to, you are working at the same time. The second factor that I think drives migration to the UK or getting a second residency for the UK is that people think it’s a sane environment. There is no gun violence, racism is not much, there is a huge community of Nigerians in the UK and people want better education for their children. For Citizens of UK, public school from primary to secondary is free and the standard is good. The ability to also hold the passport which gives your ward the privilege to pay about a quarter of what an international student will pay is also a factor. As an international student in the UK during my time, I paid about 25,000 pounds whereas people who hold the British passport were paying between 6,000 to 8,000 pounds depending on the school. The British passport gives your children access to travel to several countries around the world without visas.

What residency programmes does A.D & Partners offer?

We offer a number of second residencies from different continents. From Europe, for example, there are about four pathways that we offer in the UK, three in Portugal, two in Malta, two in Spain, two in Greece, two in Germany, two other pathways in Austria, one in Latvia and one in Slovenia. Those are the outright residency programmes and they can also qualify you to become citizenship after a number of years depending on the country. In some countries it is after five years and in some after six and some 10 years, depending on the law of the country. We also have a few programmes in the USA after which you become resident and then citizen. So, if you put all the programmes we do together in terms of residency programmes, we have 17 residency programmes. We also have an outright citizenship programme. We have about six in the Caribbean; here when you make investments in this country, you are given outright citizenship.

What do you mean by outright citizenship?

Outright citizenship means that you are making an investment in that country in exchange for citizenship. So, there is no long wait period. With the residency programme, you need to wait between five to 10 years depending on the country but for outright citizenship; it’s a matter of days or months especially in the Caribbean. In 45 days, you get your passport in the Caribbean with an outright citizenship programme. The reason why people get their passports is to enhance their mobility. What this means is that the passport gives you access to many countries without you having a visa. If you are a Caribbean citizen, you can go to the UK, Schengen zone in Europe and some other countries in South America without a visa; just holding their passport. You can have access to about 150 countries without a visa but not to Canada and the USA. If you want to go to Canada or USA, you would have to apply for a visa; however, there are flexibilities that Caribbean citizenship offers. They have a path with the US. With the US path, if you are applying for a tourist visa, you get 10 years unlike Nigeria where you get just two years visa validity. For the Canada pathway, it gives the applicant till the end of the validity of his or her passport. So, if your passport is to expire in 10 years, you get the same validity with your visa. There is also reciprocity in this visa validity; as it is what US and Canada does for the Caribbean that the Caribbean also does for US and Canadian citizens.

Read also: The reasons Nigerians need an E-2 investor’s visa of the USA and how to obtain it

Do you think COVID-19 impacted migration of people from Nigeria to other countries?

The first time I heard about COVID-19, I remember I was in France in November 2019. At that time, we thought it was only going to happen in China. For someone like me, I had made plans to travel in March. I was to go to Europe. Then airlines started cancelling flights and everyone was shut down. In some instances, it slowed things down because most countries closed their borders; although the UK never shut down completely. So, this actually affected migration in Nigeria. It also threw some advantages because COVID-19 and BREXIT happened almost at the same time. A lot of people died in those countries. Some nurses and doctors in the health sector left and it created a vacuum at the moment, which is why we saw that UK needed some hands. In the UK, people queue for fuel because there are no truck drivers.

For some people, COVID-19 became the reason why they relocated because of health care. For people who lost members of their family, they would prefer to be close to where they would get good health care facilities as long as they can afford it. For some people, staying back in Nigeria was better as the death reports in other countries were much higher than in Nigeria. So, the effects of COVID-19 are two-sided. For us as a business, we did a lot as some people saw the reason to move and we had some political unrest at the time which made people think of relocating.

What perimeters do you use in determining one who is qualified to apply for some of these residency or citizenship programmes?

Because of the nature of what we do and what we offer which is a legal pathway, we need to make sure that we are putting a good client forward otherwise they may be rejected and their residency denial can also rub off on us negatively, and make clients think we do not know what we are doing. So, the first step to take is to carry out due diligence on the client. We get their details first. We work with a globally renowned background check company called ‘World-Check.’ So, we take these details and send them to World-Check and World-Check will take the details and put them in the Interpol database, FBI database amongst others to ensure they are free of any crime, they are not politically exposed and they do not have money laundry issues. So, if they are being flagged for any of these, their applications will be denied. This is the first step that we take with the clients.

The second thing that we also do with the clients is that we also try to find out their source of funds. If the source of the funds is questionable; you can be flagged for this. The third is that we work with renowned immigration lawyers. We are not lawyers, we are advisers. We work with different law firms in different countries. Because it is a legal pathway, the solicitors are the ones that process these documents to go in line with the laws of these countries. If it is the real estate investment base, we work with different developers. We make sure the investments they are bringing meet the criteria of the visa programme. If it is a SME or tech kind of investment, we work with different endorsing bodies that are licenced by the government of the countries to check the kind of investment or investor that is coming or the entrepreneur coming on the programme.

Do these checks or steps vary from one programme to another?

Yes it does. For instance, in Canada, Portugal and other countries, different solutions apply. So, it is not a one jacket solution. For these countries, we start by asking our clients what their aim is for wanting to migrate. The reason why we ask this question is because immigration is a serious thing and in my opinion, I think people should think through it before making that choice. For the fact that everyone is moving to Canada doesn’t mean this is what fits everyone. What we do is to check the family background to see if any of their children or spouse has another passport. We check to know if they have first or second degrees in other countries, and know if they have affiliations or family in the country they want to relocate to.

The reason why we ask all these is to ensure that you are getting the best and you are moving to where you have some level of safety. For instance, if you have a family or a close friend in a certain country, it is easier to move to that place than a place where you do not know anyone. When you get there, the people you know there will advise you on where to go and next steps to take. Knowing the clients’ background helps us know where will be the best fit for them. After checks on their background and we feel their background doesn’t fit the countries you want to apply for, we would advise somewhere else.

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