2020’s Most Enduring Lesson: We all need a Plan B. Especially Americans.
I risk tempting fate by publishing this article before this uniquely chaotic year has come to its conclusion, yet eleven months in, a common 2020 theme has emerged: expect chaos. The corresponding lesson? We all need to have an immigration Plan B.
The year began with unprecedented climate challenges that engulfed an entire continent in flames. By mid-March, the world was embroiled with an unavoidable once in-a-century pandemic generating widespread lockdowns and mass casualties. In the ensuing months, COVID-19 would redefine what it means to live in modern society. Beyond the virus, political upheaval, war, and internal civil conflicts continued to define a chaotic, dangerous year.
These effects were acutely in the United States. At the time of this writing, the Western Atlantic has shattered the number of named tropical storms in a single season. Coronavirus infection rates surge on a daily basis with each day breaking new records. Shockingly, the prospects of civil strife and domestic upheaval loom large, while senior government officials flirt with authoritarianism and ignore democratic reality.
This article is not intended to insult my country. Nor should anyone question my patriotism. I have spent a career assisting investors, professionals, and family members immigrate to the United States. I plan to do so for the next four decades. I am indebted to fate and my grandfather’s decision to board a New York-bound ship from the shores of Italy 95 years ago, which resulted in my birth in this country.
Moreover, I am buoyed by the results of the 2020 presidential election where the American people have clearly repudiated a President that encapsulates racial grievance, anti-immigrant rhetoric / policy, authoritarian ideals, and gross corruption. President-Elect Joe Biden is poised to bring about an American immigration renaissance, perhaps commencing even on his first day in office. The alternative (and how I would have entitled this article had Biden come up short in the Electoral College) would have been “An American Diaspora.”
Yet one of the world’s historically most powerful passports is now horribly weakened thanks to our impotent efforts to control COVID-19. Americans often quip that they will move to Canada if an election result is unfavorable, yet our northern neighbors don’t even want us stopping by. We Americans find ourselves increasingly isolated amongst the world, suffering a humanitarian crisis that was largely avoidable had simple preventative measures been uniformly implemented through effective federal leadership rather than politicized in an effort to tap into electoral prowess. We can’t even agree that people should wear masks in public while our hospitals run out of ICU beds.
Despite this bleak status quo, there are plenty of reasons to be hopeful in 2021, which starts with new federal leadership coming into power in two months’ time. An American Diaspora need not happen nor be necessary. Yet, my fellow Americans should use the lessons of 2020 to consider a Plan B.
Many already have. Incredibly, in the realm of investment immigration, Americans topped the worldwide hegemon China with regard to applications for the New Zealand investor visa. Whether it be fueled by politics, public health, or hedging risk, Americans are priming renewed interest in RCBI programs around the world notwithstanding the limitations of immigrating during pandemic, including programs in the Caribbean.
Will Americans leave their homeland permanently? As of this time, it seems unlikely. Yet we would be smart to consider an immigration Plan B, if only to restore access to the rest of the world or to secure safety in the case of a “break glass” emergency. Most Americans cannot access foreign countries through blood (jus sanguinis), employment, or family ties. For those without these options, our firm is quite bullish on the Portuguese Golden Visa, given its relatively low minimum investment amounts, diversity of investment options, fast processing times, and low minimum required periods of stay. And of course, the Golden Visa grants access to the European Union, which has otherwise mostly foreclosed itself to the U.S. Passport.
While we will continue to represent immigrants seeking a new life in the U.S. in 2021 and beyond, it will be important for both Americans and third country nationals to consider outbound options. The upcoming year presents opportunities to secure that Plan B, wrought by the lessons of a dreadful 2020 and its events that took us all by surprise.
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