Getting a Second Passport

by admin

Obtaining dual citizenship opens up your world to multiple travel benefits that do not always present themselves with only a USA passport. Not every country in the world offers the opportunity for dual citizenship and it is not always easy to obtain. The following benefits and methods will help you understand the importance of a second passport and how one could be acquired.

Benefits

  1. Expand your travel possibilities – Travel to Cuba legally (see here for how to travel to Cuba sub-legally) and without having to obtain a visa to go to countries like Brazil. Passports from Denmark, Finland, Germany, and Sweden are the most valuable and offer the best travel access to countries around the globe, while Afghanistan, Somalia, and Iraq passports offer the least flexibility. See here for more details on the rankings by country for visa flexibility.
  2. Reduce your profile – In many destinations, showing a USA passport will instantly profile you as a target to terrorists, or criminal groups that think you have a lot of money.
  3. Greater travel privacy – USA passports are now equipped with new technology (bio-metric identifiers and a radio-frequency identity chip) that can track everywhere you travel. This could get you into trouble when you travel to places not favored by USA authorities.
  4. Reside and work in other countries – The legalities and difficulties of trying to maintain residence or work in another country can often be insurmountable. A second passport will open up many opportunities in this regard. For example, a passport from any member of the European Union (EU) will allow you to live and work in any of the 27 EU countries.
  5. International tax planning – If you ever want to expatriate (give up USA citizenship) and move to a place (ie. Panama) with much more lax tax laws, you must gain a second passport first.

How To Obtain

1. Ancestry
Many countries have programs which grant citizenship to descendants of emigrants. Here are a few examples:

  • Ireland – Ireland has detailed and clear laws in determining citizenship eligibility to descendants of Irish nationals. Check out here for more details.
  • Poland – The laws for receiving Polish citizenship from a Polish ancestor are difficult to navigate. The following article found here can give you a detailed overview on what is required. If you have Polish ancestors in your bloodline, you may want to contact a firm like CK Law Office in Warsaw to find out your eligibility.
  • Germany – Germany offers citizenship for children and grandchildren of former Germans who were deprived of their citizenship status between January 30, 1933 and May 8, 1945 on racial, political, or ethnic grounds. You can read more about it here.
  • Italy – Italy offers citizenship to descendants of certain Italian nationals going back two generations. Find out more at MyItalianCitizenship.com.
  • Greece – If one or both of your parents or grandparents were born in Greece, you are eligible for Greek citizenship.
  • Lithuania – You have a right to citizenship if one of your ancestors was a citizen of the country. See here for more detailed information.
  • Canada and United Kingdom – Offer citizenship to those born outside of the country and have parents with citizenship.

2. Residency
Here are some of the countries that offer the possibility of citizenship after a period of lawful residency:

  • Australia – Apply for citizenship after four years lawful residence (temporary or permanent visa) in Australia. This period must include 12 months as a permanent resident immediately before making an application for Australian citizenship and absences from Australia of no more than 12 months in total in the four years prior to application, including not more than 90 days in the 12 months immediately prior to application.
  • Belgium – Apply for citizenship after three years of legal residence.
  • Latvia and Austria – Apply for citizenship after 10 years of legal residence.
  • USA – After five years of legal residence from the date of receipt of a conditional green card, it is possible to acquire US citizenship and to obtain a passport
  • Czech Republic – To apply for citizenship, it is necessary to spend 5 years of legal residence after receiving permanent residence permit. Note that Czech Republic does not allow dual citizenship.
  • Brazil – Apply for citizenship after four years of residency. This period can be reduced to one year if you have a Brazilian parent, child, or married to a Brazilian.
  • Canada – You must have permanent residence status for three years before being able to apply for citizenship.
  • Bahamas – Apply for citizenship if you have resided in the Bahamas for at least 6 years and have lived there for 12 consecutive months before applying.
  • Panama – Citizenship can be acquired after five years of legal permanent residence and full immigrant status.
  • United Kingdom – Apply for citizenship after being in the country for five years with not spending more than 450 days outside the UK in the period. Also, you must not have spent more that 90 days outside the country and hold permanent residence in the final 12 months immediately preceding the application.
  • Spain – Offers a reduced two-year residence before citizenship to citizens of any of several Latin American countries. Also, someone with a grandparent from Spain may apply for citizenship after one year of residency.

3. Economic Contribution
Only three countries in the world offer immediate citizenship through an investment:

  • Dominica – Requires USD 75k (100k for family) and 9-12k for government registration charges and due diligence. You also must visit the country and go through a personal interview to gain citizenship.
  • St.Kitts & Nevis – Requires USD 250k as minimum investment and 7.5k for due diligence and processing fees. No personal visit is required.
  • Austria – By investing EUR 2-3 million, you can directly get the citizenship without any residence requirement. The less expensive option is to provide a EUR 100k investment, which allows you to get a residence permit and citizenship after 10 years of residency. With a residence permit, you can travel visa free to all European ountries.

Religion
In Israel, the “Law of Return” entitles all Jews, and those of Jewish ancestry (at least one Jewish parent or grandparent), to be able to obtain Israeli residency and citizenship. If your ancestry does not fit this description, the law also provides the ‘right of return’ to all converted Jews of all denominations, and the conversion need not take place in Israel in order for it to qualify. Once your background check returns clean and you have been accepted, the applicant is entitled to immediate citizenship. For the first year, a temporary travel document is issued. After the first year, the government issues a standard passport.

Birthright
Anyone born in one of the countries below, no matter their nationality, is entitled to citizenship in that country, no matter the legality or status of the parents:

  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Argentina
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bolivia
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Chile
  • Colombia
  • Dominica
  • Ecuador
  • El Salvador
  • Fiji
  • Grenada
  • Guatemala
  • Guyana
  • Honduras
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • United States
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela

Marriage
Marrying a citizen of another country does not usually offer immediate citizenship, but can sometimes speed up the residency requirements for applying for citizenship. For example, you need to legally reside in Colombia for five years before being able to apply for citizenship. This is reduced to two years if you marry a Colombian. In Brazil, the requirement is reduced from four years to one if you marry a citizen.

Topics: Hacks, Tools


Living in Brazil

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Rio de Janeiro

Being host to the fast approaching 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics has opened Brazil’s gems up to the world. From its booming economy, to its diverse landscape of rainforests and picturesque beaches, to its beautiful and welcoming people, Brazil is coming to the forefront as the destination everyone wants to relocate to. Before you dive in, you are going to need to learn the intricacies of the country and how to navigate the culture:

1. Learn Portuguese
Like many of us, your plan to live in Brazil is a few months away and you do not know what ‘bom dia’ means. Even though English might be prevalent in the larger cities like Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, it will be beneficial to you to know how to speak the local language if you want to make lasting relationships.
Many people are overwhelmed with all of the Portuguese language resources available online. Focusing on the right technique and program will allow you to hold your own in a conversation within a few months. You will be a step ahead if you already know some Spanish, as many of the words are similar (with slighty different pronunciations). The following resources will show you how to ‘hack’ your language learning and internalize the most Portuguese in the least amount of time:

  • hackingportuguese.com - Comprehensive reviews and strategies for learning Portuguese. Everything you need to get started on your Portuguese journey can be found on this site.
  • travelhack.org – One of my previous posts on the best method for tackling a new language.
  • fourhourworkweek.com – The premise of learning guru Tim Ferris’s strategy for accelerated language learning is to learn the most used words and phrases first.

2. Jobs
Now that you have your sabbatical planned, how are you going to pay for it? Especially with the cost of living in Rio and São Paulo rivaling Manhattan. To sustain your lifestyle, many ideas for jobs can be found in my previous articleon working from anywhere.
If you are planning on staying for a long period of time or finding a job locally, you are going to face some difficult hurdles. You have a few options for gaining entry and staying in the country:

  • Tourist Visa – everyone in the USA must obtain one to be able to enter Brazil, though it only allows you to stay in Brazil a maximum of 180 days a year.
  • Business Visa – this is difficult to obtain. You must first get hired by a Brazilian company and have them provide a formal invitation, which is needed to present to a Brazilian Consulate. A long line is always waiting for approval and you must prove that your skills go above and beyond what any other Brazilian could do. This process can also take months to find out if you are approved or not.
  • Investor Visa – this is perhaps the easiest way to obtain a long term visa, but you need to start a Brazilian company and have $75k USD to invest in it. See this article on the brazilforlife.com blog for more info on obtaining this.

Note that the Tourist and Business Visas can be obtained through a Brazilian Consulate in the USA. You can use a site like travisa.com to obtain through the mail.

3. Culture
People are much more family and relationship oriented in Brazil than the USA. Knowing the right people will help you get anything done much faster and minimize frustrastions, especially in a business sense. Socialising and spending time with each other are a must to build trust and succeed in business.
Brazilians also tend to live at a slower, relaxed pace. Punctuality is not always common, which can frustrate someone from a high speed, New York City lifestyle. Do not ever try to rush a business dealing.
Even though it is against the law, differences in class (mostly related to economic differences and skin color) are still prevalent. Darker ethnicities tend to be disadvantaged.
Although culture tends to be informal, Brazilians are very fashion oriented. Make sure you dress smart and conservatively in any gathering you are invited to.
The culture is very diverse as well. It is not uncommon to see a mixture of different races in a relationship.

4. Where to live
With many diverse and interesting cities to choose from, you should do your research and make a couple of visits before settling down in any given location. Here are a few of the more popular destinations:

  • Salvador – has great nightlife, bars, restaurants, arts, and shopping centers. Average yearly tempurature is 80 degrees Farenheit. Known as Brazil’s happiness capital.
  • Rio de Janeiro – most well known city in Brazil. Beautiful beaches, modern infrastructure, great nightlife and restaurants, and site of the 2016 Olympics. Average yearly tempurature is around 80 degrees Farenheit. It does have a high cost of living.
  • São Paulo – huge city and center of all business in Brazil. It is also the richest and most populous city in the country. High cost of living and high traffic. Known for music, theatre, museums, car racing, sports, and varied ethnic cuisine.
  • Fortaleza – located in the North East and know for its energy and excitement. Well know for its nightlife, carnivals, comedians, cuisine, music festivals, and 16 miles of urban beaches.
  • Florianópolis – amazing beaches, nightlife, weather, low crime rate, and smaller city. Very young and vibrant, with a focus on sports and eco-oriented activities.
  • Macapa – located in Northern Brazil and surrounded by the Amazon and its tributaries. Known for its great food (fish and different types of fruit).
Topics: Hacks


Breaking Into the Diving Scene

by admin

As 70% of the planet is covered with water, there is much more of this world to explore than most people can fathom. Being able to traverse underwater wrecks and caves, photograph multi-colored fish in tropical reefs, and see how all the different types creatures interact opens your eyes to an entirely new world and experience. After you become certified, you will be able to dive anywhere in the world for the rest of your life. Diving also opens up additional career avenues in the commercial, police, scientific, and military sectors. Over a million new people (aging from 10 to well into their 80s) are getting certified every year. If nothing else, it provides a fun, new hobby to broaden your horizons. The answers below should get you all the information you will need to start your new found hobby, or even down the path to a new career.

Why do you need a certification?

Besides getting used to breathing under water at different depths and how to use different types of scuba gear, there are various risks with how pressure affects your body you will need to learn about. Careful training and preparation helps to significantly reduce these risks, which include:

  • Decompression Sickness (DCS, or the “bends”) – This is caused from surfacing too quickly from a deep underwater dive. It can cause a lot of pain, and, if untreated, can result in nerve and tissue damage, and even death.
  • Air Embolism (Pulmonary Barotrauma) – Happens when a diver holds his or her breath while ascending. The air inside the lungs will expand and can cause serious or even fatal damage to the lungs.
  • Nitrogen Narcosis – A feeling of drunkenness that divers feel at deeper depths, usually around 80-100 feet. It is not directly damaging, but can cause bad decision making and motor coordination. This can lead to poor decisions, resulting in DCS, drowning, or Pulmonary Barotrauma.

What does certification entail?

Your initial certification will allow you to dive down to 60 feet. To obtain this, divers must be at least 10 years old, be able to demonstrate they can swim 200 yards, and tread water for 10 minutes. Scuba courses are typically divided into three parts:

  • Information Development – Learn the basic principles of scuba diving. These include planning for a safe dive, how pressure affects you underwater, and dealing with various underwater creatures. This can be usually taken online beforehand ($120).
  • Pool/Confined Water Learning – Learn how to use your dive gear and get used to scuba diving in a confined environment.
  • Open Water Learning – You will need a minimum of four open-water dives to achieve certification. This will usually take two or more days, as most agencies limit training dives to two a day. You can get a referral to do your open water dives in a destination of your choice once you complete the information development and pool learning sessions. Upon completion, you will receive a C-card, which is physical proof you are certified. This is good for the rest of your life and you will need to be able to present this when doing subsequent dives.

After you have received basic certification, you can proceed to more advanced courses, which can open up additional commercial and career opportunities for you.

Where do I get certified?

With more than 1,800 professional retail dive stores in the US alone, finding a place to learn how to dive is pretty simple. There are three main scuba diving certification agencies:

  • PADI – The front runner with 55% of the divers around the world certified through them. PADI is geared more towards recreational diving during initial instruction.
  • NAUI – NAUI courses are longer in duration and delve more into technical matters related to diving and specialty.
  • SSI – SSI courses are similar to PADIs’ and are offered in 2400 locations around the world.

When picking an agency to get certified with, make sure you find out what the price includes up front. The pricing should be made up of the following components:

  • Equipment – The use of gear (other than mask, fins, and snorkel, which you usually provide), and the cost of airfills for the scuba tanks you’ll be using.
  • Coursework and Confined Water Sessions – The training you‘ll be doing at your dive center’s facility, or at the facility they use.
  • Open Water Sessions – The real-world diving (usually 4 or 5 sessions) that you’ll do at an actual dive site.

An accredited training course from a certified instructor will cost about $300-$500, including practice and certification dives.

Where can I find dive shops and referral locations?

There are many places to find dive shops and places to complete your training around the world. These include:

How much does diving gear cost?

If you are expecting to dive only a few times a year, renting is more cost-effective than buying all your own equipment. Daily rental costs range from $40 to $60 for a two-tank dive. If you own your own equipment, the cost of air ranges from $5 to $8 per tankful. At the minimum, you will need to purchase a mask ($40-$70), snorkel ($20-$50), and fins ($50-$100). If you want to buy all of your own equipment, you are looking at shelling out around $1300-$1500. On top of the mask, snorkel and fins, here’s a rundown of standard scuba equipment that will get you started with warm water dives:

  • Buoyancy Compensator (BC) – Inflatable jacket allowing divers to adjust their buoyancy in the water ($250-$500)
  • Regulator – This mouthpiece from which you breathe. It is connected to the air tank and regulates the pressure to a safe level for you to inhale ($150-$600)
  • Weight belt – Holds you down in the water and counteracts the buoyancy of other diving equipment ($20-$50)
  • Air Tank – Holds the compressed air you use underwater ($150-$400 each)
  • Octopus – This is your alternate air source used as a back up to the regulator ($125-$350)
  • Depth Gauge – Displays your air supply and depth. ($75-$350)

You can get all the new scuba gear you will need from places like Scuba.com, Divers-supply.com, or Leisurepro.com. Or you can find used gear on Ebay.com and Craigslist.org. I will have a later article describing a detailed rundown of the top valued scuba equipment to purchase.

Where can I find a diving buddy?

If you would like to feel more safe, or just want to make new friends, there many easy ways to find a diving friend:

Topics: Hacks