Buying citizenship is a $7 billion industry

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Vermonters are painfully aware of the “EB-5 Visa Program” which gives you a US green card if you invest $1,000,000 in a business that will promise 10 American jobs. We know about it because a a sleazeball creep named Ariel Quiros ran a ponzi scheme taking some $350 million from EB-5 investors. He used this to buy two ski resorts- Jay Peak and Burke Mountain, along with a 2-million dollar condo for himself in (wait for it) Trump Tower. Besides dramatic improvements to the ski areas, he promised a phantom biomedical tech facility, which like the ski areas, are in Vermont’s impoverished Northeast Kingdom. It wasn’t just the rich EB-5 investors who were burned. Many contractors and other small businesses were left unpaid when the whole thing crashed.
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What did you think he meant by “merit based immigration”?


Here in Hungary, we had by far the cheapest “golden visa” deal in the EU until they ended it last year: you could get long-term residency for an investment of only EUR 360,000, and you would get EUR 300,000 of that back after five years.

But we also have something better than that: a (newish) scheme that will grant you Hungarian (and therefore EU) citizenship if you can prove that you have Hungarian ancestry and can speak the language reasonably well. No fees and no residency requirement! So you don’t even have to have visited Hungary ever in your life to become a full-fledged citizen here.

It’s an open secret that there are Serbians, Ukrainians, and almost certainly Russians who don’t qualify one bit but are bribing Hungarian officials in local consulates to get EU citizenship through this program.

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I was working with a company that was seeing about using an EB-5 Visa to raise money from some guy, but it turned out to be such a pain in the ass if you were trying to do it by the book. Gave up on the idea pretty quickly. The problem is (a) the EB-5 Visa holder is suppose to remain actively involved in the company and (b) that pricing the investment is hard because you’ve got to wait 8-12 months for the visa to come through and you don’t want to strap yourself to a given price for that long. So, finding person who (a) wants to invest in your company (b) somehow isn’t someone you already know (and therefore probably in the country already on a green card, etc.) and © has that kind of scratch and (d) you want to work with and they with you, it’s just not a good channel for doing it on the up-and-up.

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I have a friend who got an Italian citizenship simply because his father’s father’s father was a native born Italian. If it had come down through his mom or grandmother or great grandmother, he couldn’t have gotten it.


Jay Peak? Smugglers’ Notch would have been more appropriate.

White people. He meant white people.

Whereas the intended purpose of the ancestry citizenship scheme is to create a bloc of diaspora Hungarian voters who will always vote for Fidesz. And perhaps to scratch an iirredentist itch and intimidate neighbouring countries that have Hungarian minority communities.

So it seems like the entire world is moving to a system of jus solidus for citizenship

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