GROWING UP ANTIGUAN AND AMERICAN Thursday 1st July 2021
Article by Yensa Werth, Citizens International Assistant Editor
I was born in Antigua and Barbuda to a Grenadian mother and an American father. This allowed me to gain one of the most powerful tools for life, dual citizenship!
Growing up, my family and I would often visit America during holidays. I remember every time we would enter, they would often look at my Antigua and Barbuda passport with squinty eyes and uncertainty. I even recall immigration officers asking where Antigua was located since they’d never heard of it. Who would have thought that today, that same very passport would become one of the best to hold? Not me! Antigua and Barbuda is the 26th most powerful passport in the world. One of the top benefits is the fact that you can travel to 151 countries visa-free.
Yensa Werth and the Antigua and Barbuda flag
Fast-forward to when I was just about 18, moving to Santa Barbara, California to attend Brooks Institute for my Photography degree. I started travelling more on my U.S. passport, as it seemed more logical, seeing as I would travel through states during that time period. Being able to have the freedom to choose which passport I wanted to use was a privilege I never really understood. I barely used my little island passport during the 7 years that I lived in California. Then I moved back to Antigua and Barbuda about 5 years ago and started to learn about our tiny island’s mighty passport and benefits.
I started to learn more about the benefits of having dual citizenship, especially when the Pandemic hit. When I heard that my friends were stuck in other countries due to the restrictions, my eyes opened even more. When I dived into the internet to learn more about this, I learned that many people in other countries have run into the problem of restricted international travel. Primarily, U.S. passport holders have found themselves confronting restrictions on where in the world they are now allowed or welcome, certainly a first for most generations living today.
The pandemic and closing of international borders has opened many people’s eyes to the notion of “passport privilege” and the fact that having multiple passports is the ultimate arsenal in personal freedom and security. With all of the restrictions, strict borders and ever-changing life moments, I think it is wise for people to explore their options in gaining access to mobility and freedom. We’ve seen a significant boom in enquiries from North America and Europe these past 18 months and also in the desire for second, or even primary homes, in the Caribbean.
With the momentary damage to our largest industry – tourism – due to the pandemic, it has poured gasoline, as it were, on the property market, and on the demand for citizenship and the associated services and goods. I believe we are seeing a shift in focus to other industries in the region and certainly in Antigua & Barbuda with the influx of international knowledge and wealth all surely bound to accelerate our growth as a small island nation.
It’s an exciting time to be home as a young Antiguan, a phrase not commonplace for some years now unless you were looking to work in the tourism sector. The future looks quite bright and Antigua & Barbuda is standing strong as an ideal second citizenship country.
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