Industry Trends

IM Consultants Warn of Brazenly False Advertising Around Mexico, Romania “CBI Programs”

Several investment migration consultants have written to IMI this week highlighting examples of marketing related to purported citizenships for sale in Mexico and Romania, two countries that do not have citizenship-sales policies.

One actor calling itself “Guaranteed Citizenship and Passport” (GCAP) contacted Eric Major of Latitude, claiming to exclusively represent a purported “Mexico Citizenship by Investment Program” thanks to “a strong relationship with the head of the Immigration Department of Mexico.” The supposed program, said the company’s representative, costs US$60,000 per applicant and allegedly leads to Mexican citizenship in “14 to 21 days.”

In his email to Major, the representative indicated most agents with which he purported to work would re-sell the program to its clients for “$100,000-$150,000 per applicant.”

Major proceeded to request the legal provisions upon which the “exclusive Mexico CBI program” was based. In response, the representative stated, “I will be very honest with you, Eric. Our Mexico CBI program is not a ‘public listed’ [sic] program. Rather [it’s] done through a relationship of mine (head of the immigration department). Whilst it is not an officially listed program, it’s still endorsed directly by the immigration department of México, the head of the department.”

For the avoidance of doubt, Mexico’s nationality act has no legal provision for the sale of citizenship. Mexican nationality is obtainable through naturalization, birth (ius solis), or descent (through a Mexican parent). To naturalize in the country, individuals must first reside in Mexico for at least five years, unless married to a citizen, the parent of a citizen, or a citizen of a preferential country, in which case the residency period is reduced to two years.

Under no circumstances, however, is citizenship legitimately obtainable in a matter of 14 days.

GCAP’s brochure, viewed by IMI’s editor, also purports to include a Mexican driver’s license and certificate of naturalization. The brochure further indicates that the “legal basis” of the program is “past residency or descent,” indicating the manufacturing of evidence of residency and/or ancestry is involved. Moreover, the brochure states that applicants can change their names as part of the “naturalization” process. View the brochure here.

“I couldn’t believe this guy would actually write to me and seek our interest to promote this,” says Eric Major in an email to IMI. “Within 12 seconds of reading his email and reviewing his attachments, I knew this guy was a fraud. The fact that he highlights the ability to amend your name as a benefit and that it isn’t a ‘publicly listed program’ but rather an under-the-table program is outrageous.”

Major adds that he’s astonished the firm would claim to have partnered with ten consultancy firms globally and that they are signing up about 30 applicants a month: “It’s unbelievable to think that anyone would fall for this kind of clear corruption.”

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“Guaranteed Romanian Citizenship” for EUR 35,000

Several firms online are offering “guaranteed Romanian citizenship.” Romania has no citizenship by investment program, and naturalization typically requires eight years of residency.

One firm purports to be the winner of several credibility and reliability awards offers Romanian citizenship for sale at the all-inclusive price of EUR 35,000 + VAT paid in two installments. To qualify, the company specifies, it is necessary to confirm the applicant’s “Romanian origin,” indicating the qualifying route in question is through citizenship by descent policies. The service, however, is offered to anyone, regardless of ancestry.

How do the firms help applicants who are not of Romanian origin obtain “guaranteed” Romanian citizenship? According to one email sent to a reputable service provider and viewed by IMI, the firm says, “the procedure is extremely simple. Based on data about your family tree and some historical events, our legal team will submit a request to the state archive to restore evidence of you territorial affiliation to Romania.”

The other firm offering restoration of Romanian citizenship to people without Romanian ancestry states, on its website, that the first step is to “analyze your situation and help you to find or retrieve documents from the state archives, which are the proof of the grounds for participation in the repatriation program.”

Romania has historically been the scene of many frauds involving the granting of citizenship by descent to people without Romanian origins. In 2020, the country’s Ministry of Justice reported it was investigating a series of scams in which hundreds of individuals had obtained Romanian passports (it was not clear if citizenships were also granted) without the requisite proof of ancestry. Romania’s General Prosecutor brought criminal proceedings against several high-ranking officials, including the president of the National Citizenship Committee.

One service provider who was contacted by a firm offering “guaranteed” and “not publicly listed” citizenship warns of the consequences of using such unofficial routes to citizenship:

“I have a client who, despite my warnings, used this type of service,” says Karl Haddad of Dubai-based IRC Invest. “He had his Mexican passport cut up upon landing in France. He then had to return to Turkey – where he had flown in from – and was stuck there for months without a passport as his original passport had expired. These illusions always look great in the beginning and serve an audience in desperate need of alternatives. In the absence of options, such as for Russians right now, they apply for such ‘programs’ as a final hope. They are willing to take the risk. They are fortunate if they don’t get jailed, though I am sure many of them do.”

Eduard Nedelcu, Partner at Al Safar & Partners and someone who has also received marketing materials from one of the firms in question, cautions potential applicants hoping to save costs by taking shortcuts:

“Anyone looking to acquire a second citizenship should double-check with the official channels if the chosen country offers such programs,” he comments. “This is easily done by directly approaching any diplomatic missions of the country in question. Once they have identified the program, they should make sure the immigration advisor is reputable by checking credentials directly with the issuing source.”

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