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Living Beyond Borders

A look at what it means to be a global citizen.

Given the openness spawned by the internet and the interdependence that economic globalization has fostered, it seems archaic that borders are often closed for people while goods and information travel more freely. Global citizenship is the goal for many, but is it attainable?

“If a Rolex watch can travel around the planet, why can’t a person?” asks Armand Arton, a YPO member and president of Arton Capital, a YPO Global Affiliate Partner that helps thousands of high net worth individuals invest in a second residency and citizenship every year. “A global citizen understands the reality of the world we live in today, how everything is interconnected and how every decision affects somebody on the other side of the world. They also understand that having borders restrict us is not the way to create a modern society.”

Today, the only barrier that truly separates us is our place of birth, which not only defines who we are but also what we can and cannot do, says Arton. Global citizens want to break free of the physical, mental and geographical limitations, so they are able not only to expand their horizons but also take advantage of more opportunities in life as well.

For any entrepreneur, the freedom to move as quickly as one thinks is also essential. One of the most practical ways to live beyond borders is via a second citizenship, which opens up the number of countries that can be visited without a visa. It also acts like an insurance policy. A sudden regime change, for example, can affect one’s ability to travel.

Travel restrictions are often dependent on one’s country of origin. However, these hurdles can be overcome by having different passports as shown on the Passport Index, a global ranking of the world’s passports. The right combination can allow visa-free access to practically every country in the world.

“It’s not because you have this extra mobility that you are a global citizen,” says Arton, who was born in Bulgaria to Armenian parents, later moving to Morocco and France before settling in Canada. “It’s what you’re going to do now with this freedom to travel. How are you going to make the world a better place?”

Becoming a global citizen

Entrepreneurs looking to develop businesses can obtain a permanent residency or a second citizenship by investing in the economy of another country. While each country has a different set of requirements, common values include a clean criminal record, legal source of the investment funds and investment in a government-approved option such as real estate, government bonds or a national economic fund.

By establishing clear rules for residency and citizenship through investment programs, each individual country determines how the much-needed foreign capital will be used to address its economic needs. In some cases, a new passport can be acquired in as quickly as three months, says Arton. Permanent residency and second citizenship can be lifesaving in the event of political unrest, allowing investors and their families to travel abroad quickly, as well as qualifying for better health and educational opportunities at domestic rather than international rates.

“When you invest in global citizen programs, the return is extra freedom and mobility,” says Arton. “The whole family for generations has a second passport and the kids will never have to leave and go through the same limitation and experiences that the parents have lived through. They are making sure their children enjoy life with more freedom than they ever experienced.”

Melissa Fleming has previously worked for Catchafire, Fast Company, Harper’s Bazaar, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Time Out New York Kids, Town & Country and Vogue, among others.