June 14, 2014

By: Bobby Casey, Managing Director GWP

Is getting a second passport in Paraguay too good to be true? This week we found out all the details on the ground in Asuncion.

paraguayThis past week, I was meeting with our partners in Paraguay investigating their residency and citizenship program. We met with government officials in various offices talking about these opportunities and how to best navigate the process.

One of our meetings at the migration office in Asuncion was rather hectic. The office was full of people, officials scrambling around in a panic, and police officers everywhere. On top of that, it seemed no work was taking place, only chaos. We asked the secretary what was going on. That morning, less than an hour before we arrived, Bettina Mueller and her business partner were arrested.

If you don’t recognize that name, don’t worry. It is only recognized in certain circles – like the second passport and immigration circles. You see, Bettina has been promoting second passports in Paraguay and making claims she could provide a passport in less than 1 year. And she delivered.

She was the “fixer” for many of the more well-known promoters of second passports in Paraguay who make that claim. At this point, it is unclear exactly how it was being done, but it appears it was a combination of backdating residency applications with a little “brown bag” money and outright falsification and document forgery.

What is known is Bettina was arrested and when her house was searched, they found many very highly specialized printing machines in her home with boxes of blank passports and numbered government forms. What is also known is that she was falsifying US seals and US authorities’ signatures. Which is why the US Feds appeared with the shiny bracelets you get to wear behind your back.

Now, of course, I was not in the house to know exactly what happened, but I can only speculate that in addition to the blank passports and printing equipment, they also took her files and computers to identify her partners and clients. Up until this point, it was just a nice story about another criminal in a 3rd world country. But now, if you happen to be one of those partners or clients, I would be wiping the sweat from my brow. If you live in the US, you may want to consider booking a one-way flight to a friendlier locale.

This was a very serious arrest. And this will be treated in a very serious manner. Of course Paraguay will prosecute to the full extent of the law, but Paraguay is not the 800 pound gorilla with really nasty teeth and the NSA on their side. There will be examples made. Bettina will be very uncomfortable for a very long time. But it won’t stop with her. Rest assured.

Let me share with you the real process for acquiring Paraguayan citizenship and that elusive second passport.

Step 1. You need to acquire a certified copy of your birth certificate with an apostille from your home country.

Step 2. You need to acquire a police report (or FBI report if American) from every country you have lived in for the past 3 years. You will also need to have that provided with an apostille from the country that issued the police report or FBI report.

Step 3. You will need to appear at the nearest Paraguayan embassy to have the documents from step 1 and 2 legalized for Paraguay.

Step 4. You will need to acquire a Paraguayan visa (if required, based on your citizenship).

Step 5. You will need to open a bank account at a government approved bank with a minimum of $5,000USD deposit. This money cannot be touched until your residency application is approved.

Step 6. You will need to appear in Asuncion for a litany of meetings, notary stamps, health certificates, signatures, etc. (No need to go into detail because you will need to hire someone to facilitate this process since it is virtually impossible to figure out on your own).

Step 7. You wait. This can be anywhere from 3-6 months depending on the government officials’ mood, weather, planetary alignment, or religious festivals. Once approved, you will receive your residence permit.

Step 8. With residence permit in hand, you apply for your id card (cedula). This can take another 1-2 months to produce. You may also get your Paraguayan driver license good for 5 years once you have the cedula.

Step 9. Now you wait again. Three years from the date of issue of your residence permit, you can apply for citizenship. Again, this is a process that necessitates a professional as there are many steps to take in Asuncion.

Step 10. After 6-12 months your citizenship will be approved (barring any issues) making you a Paraguayan citizen. All-in this process takes 4-4.5 years. You do not need to live in Paraguay. You will need to visit Paraguay 2-4 times, depending on a few variables.

If you find someone like Bettina Mueller who bypasses any of these required steps, be wary. This means you are most likely acquiring a second passport in an illegal way putting you and your family at great risk.

While we frequently talk about the benefits of offshore business, bank accounts, investments and getting a second passport, you don’t want to risk your personal liberty by getting tossed behind bars because you were impatient. Trust me, I was personally in the Asuncion migration office when this transpired, and this will not end well for Bettina Mueller, her second passport promoters, or any of her clients. I am certain if they have not already be flagged by the US and the Mercosur countries, they soon will be.

There are faster second passport programs out there, but they cost a lot more money. Paraguay offers visa-free travel to 130 countries as well as being one of the Mercosur nations giving you access to most of South America. It is an excellent passport and the ease and cost of acquiring it is very low. You just need to be patient.

We have an excellent partner in Asuncion who works with clients from around the world providing this service. This person does business the right way. I watched it with my own eyes. I watched how they are connected with the right government officials, how they are efficient and professional and how they go out of their way to make sure you have a great experience.

This information is offered for all of our GWP Insiders subscribers as well as our paid consulting clients. We will be accepting new members for GWP Insiders in the couple of weeks so keep an eye out. In the meantime, if you want to schedule a consultation for this, or our asset protection and offshore service, click here.

Until next time, live well.