By Parviz Malakouti-Fitzgerald, Esq.
This article is part of our series on mobility concept & strategy explainers.
In the global mobility field, springboarding means getting a mobility asset (citizenship, residency, or visa) in one country, in order to gain increased access to another country. The country you’re using is the springboard, and the destination country is the landing pad.
With all due respect to the great Archimedes, this simple but powerful strategy shows that sometimes, the shortest path to your immigration destination is not a straight line.
Perhaps the most common, obvious mobility springboard is to obtain citizenship in one country to gain the country’s visa-free access to other countries. This is one of the bedrock incentives for applicants in Caribbean citizenship by investment programs.
Let’s take a look at some potentially useful springboards.
Visa-Free Access Springboard
First, we have the visa-free access springboard.
For example, an American citizen acquires Grenadian citizenship by investment, in order to get visa-free access to China. Grenadian citizens have visa-free access to China; Americans do not.
Here, Grenada is the springboard and China is the landing pad. This is a visa-free access springboard.
Another visa-free access springboard would be a Nigerian citizen applying for citizenship by investment in St. Kitts in order to gain visa-free access to the European schengen zone.
A Kittsian passport permits visa-free access to schengen zone; a Nigerian one does not. Here, St. Kitts is the springboard and Europe is the landing pad.
Residence & Work Permit Springboard
One can also use citizenship in one country to springboard into residence and work authorization in another country.
For example, an American of Hungarian ancestry successfully attains Hungarian citizenship by descent, to reside in fellow European Union (“EU”) country, France. That’s because per Article 21 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, that American-Hungarian citizen is entitled to reside in any EU member state. This desire for indefinite right of residence in the EU is the primary driver I see among my American clients.
Another springboarding example would be a Venezuelan of Slovak ancestry attaining Slovak citizenship by descent, thereby becoming eligible to live and work in the United States through the E-2 treaty investor visa. That’s because Slovakia is an E-2 treaty country; Venezuela is not.
Other residence treaties such as MERCOSUR, the Common Travel Area, ASEAN, and CARICOM can create a number of residence springboarding opportunities.
Friendlier Consulate Springboard
Consulate shopping is a much lesser known springboard. One can also use citizenship or residency in a second country as a way to access third country consulates for visa processing in that second country. This is because some countries, such as the U.S. require you to apply for visas in countries you are citizen or resident in.
For example, a Pakistani with U.S. marriage-based immigrant visa pending in a backlogged consulate such as Islamabad, pursues temporary residency in Spain - perhaps via Spain’s new “digital nomad” residency. With Spanish residency, he can possibly have his U.S. immigrant visa file transferred to the U.S. consulate in Madrid and processed (and approved) much more quickly there.
Here, the springboard is used to get to a U.S. consulate with a line that’s “moving faster.”
Using a springboarding strategy can have more moving parts and therefore more potential points of failure.
First, if one’s primary reason for pursuing a given mobility asset is to springboard to a third country, the risks must be understood. The treaties, conventions, and visa-free agreements that provide one country’s citizens residency or visa-free access in another country are regularly subject to change. This can spoil a springboard plan, especially after significant expenditure of time and money.
Second, sometimes lynchpin agreements for springboarding do not change legislatively but are interpreted more restrictively at a ministerial level over time. This means the language of the law didn't change but the bureaucrats enforcing it are implementing a more restrictive interpretation. This can obviously damper a pending springboard plan.
Third, unexpected difficulty in obtaining a vital document for a visa, residence or citizenship application can delay the springboard to an extent that the strategy no longer serves you. This document dependence is a chronically underestimated obstacle for people pursuing mobility assets.
Lastly, one must be aware of the potential new obligations that can be assumed when getting a second or third citizenship, as well as potential red flags. Consulting a professional is a must!
The Law Office of Parviz Malakouti does not guarantee the accuracy of information presented nor assume responsibility for actions taken in reliance of this information. The information in this page could become outdated. Each immigration and citizenship case is particular and you should consult with a qualified, licensed immigration lawyer about your case before taking any steps. Attorney marketing.