The Rights and Wrongs of Buying Citizenship

Once you’ve earned your money do you have the right to buy anything you like? Sure, you can buy a car or a house, but what about buying a planet? Yep, you can buy Jupiter or Neptune if you like, as it states in the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 that no government shall own a planet, it therefore leaves an opening for people to own land on these heavenly bodies. While travelling to Mars and buying a plot of land is not going to be happening anytime soon, then what about buying citizenship?

It is becoming increasingly easier to buy citizenship to a country, with now 17 nations in the world offering such a service. While it was originally as a way to constrict natural immigration but attract wealthy investors, you might be surprised how cheap it is to do so today. Some countries have become so popular that their GDP has grown as a result of these policies. The tiny island nation of St Kitts and Nevins is reported to have 14% of its GDP drawn from “investor visas” which offer citizenship, but only after applicants fork out millions of dollars to invest in the nation. The trend is not just with less economically developed states, richer nations are trying to cash in with the US EB-5 Programme (currently $1million USD), the UK (Tier-1 £500,000), and New Zealand ($NZ 1.05 million) also offering visas for those who buy millions in government bonds, or invest directly in sanctioned schemes, and businesses.

Questions which arise from this;

  • Are new arrivals ‘stealing’ opportunities from locals, who have worked to build up the nation?
  • Is tax being avoided in the process?
  • Are poorer nations having their wealthy removed?
  • Is citizenship more than just a document?

Video: How to buy American citizenship

The following video is a great classroom primer to help your students better understand the issues.

Vocabulary to pre-teach before watching the video

  • Hurdle, obstacles (Noun, an object in your path and stopping your progress)
  • Controversial (Adj, issue which is divides people and does not have a firm answer)
  • Outcry (Noun, topic which angers the public and then demands change)
  • Outdated (Adj, old, obsolete)
  • Overhaul (Verb, radical change)
  • Influx (Noun, entry of a large number of things or people)
  • Capital (Noun, money used for investment)

The video above was made by NowThisWorld and the questions below can be used in conjunction with the video.

Comprehension questions

Task: Try to guess the answers to these questions and then watch the video to check if you guessed correctly

  1. How many years can it take to get a long term permanent visa in the US?
  2. In 2014 how many people ‘bought citizenship in the US’ using the EB-5 programme?
  3. What percentage were Chinese nationals?
  4. When were EB-5 Visas created?
  5. How many people who they need to employ?

Answers: 1. 10 years   2. 11,000    3. 85%    4. 1990   5. 10 people


Over to you

What do you think about citizenship? leave your comments and ideas below and let the discussion commence.

If you feel like you can join the public debate forum to debate this in more detail

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