March 16, 2024

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118 FAQs on Citizenship by Investment in 2023

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118 FAQs on Citizenship by Investment in 2023

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Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs offer individuals and their families the opportunity to legally acquire a new nationality in return for an investment in the host country. These programs have gained popularity over the years due to the numerous benefits they offer, including visa-free travel, tax planning opportunities, and improved personal security. However, they also raise many questions. In this blog post, the Golden Harbors team answers 130 of the most commonly asked questions about citizenship and residency by investment. If you still have questions after studying this guide, then you are either an investment migration professional or you need a deep dive personal consultation that you can book via our website.

Frequently Asked Questions on Citizenship by Investment in 2023

1. What is Citizenship by Investment?

Citizenship by Investment (CBI) is a process where individuals can obtain a second citizenship and passport by investing in the economy of the host country.

2. How does Citizenship by Investment work?

Each country has its own specific requirements, but generally, applicants must make a significant economic contribution to the country. This can be through a donation to a national development fund, an investment in real estate, or an investment in business ventures.

3. Which countries offer Citizenship by Investment programs?

As of today, there are 12 official citizenship by investment programs (those that provide you with direct citizenship and a passport): Austria, Malta, Turkey, Vanuatu, St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica, St. Lucia, Egypt, Jordan, and Cambodia.

4. How much does Citizenship by Investment cost?

The cost varies by country and the type of investment. It can range from $100,000 to over $3 million.

5. What are the benefits of Citizenship by Investment?

Benefits can include visa-free travel to numerous countries, tax advantages, the security of having a second passport, and the ability to live, work, and study in the host country or, in some cases, any country within a regional economic community (like the EU).

6. Can my family also obtain citizenship through my investment?

Yes, most CBI programs allow for the inclusion of family members, such as a spouse, dependent children, and sometimes even parents.

7. Do I have to live in the country to maintain my citizenship?

No, most CBI programs do not require you to reside in the country.

8. Can I hold dual citizenship?

Yes, most countries offering CBI programs allow dual citizenship.

9. How long does the process take?

The timeline varies by country, but it generally takes between 2-6 months for “fast-track” and up to 14 months for more complex programs.

 Time to Citizenship by Country

10. Is my investment refundable?

It depends on the type of investment. Donations are typically non-refundable, while real estate investments can potentially be sold after a required holding period.

11. What is due diligence in the context of CBI programs?

Due diligence is a thorough background check conducted by the host country to ensure that the applicant has a clean criminal record, a legitimate source of funds for the investment, and no potential for reputational harm to the country.

12. Do I need to know the local language to apply for a CBI program?

No, most CBI programs do not require knowledge of the local language.

13. Do I need to renounce my current citizenship to participate in a CBI program?

No, most CBI programs allow dual or multiple citizenships.

14. What is a "Golden Visa"?

A "Golden Visa" is a type of residency-by-investment program that grants the investor and their family the right to live, work, and study in the host country. It often provides a path to citizenship after a certain period of residency.

15. What is the difference between Citizenship by Investment and Residency by Investment?

Citizenship by Investment provides an individual and their family with a new citizenship and passport, while Residency by Investment grants the right to live, work, and study in the host country. The primary difference between the two is that citizenship provides more extensive benefits, such as the right to vote, run for office, and hold a public sector job in the host country. Residency, on the other hand, is generally a stepping stone towards citizenship or a way to obtain a more favorable tax status in the host country.

16. Can I travel visa-free with my new passport?

Yes, one of the main advantages of CBI programs is visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to numerous countries. The exact number varies by the host country's passport strength.

17. What happens if I commit a crime after obtaining citizenship through a CBI program?

Like any citizen, you will be subject to the laws of the country. Serious crimes could lead to the revocation of citizenship.

18. Can I work in the country where I obtained citizenship through a CBI program?

Yes, obtaining citizenship gives you the right to live and work in the host country.

19. Are CBI programs legal?

Yes, CBI programs are absolutely legal and are officially recognized by governments around the world.

20. Do I need to visit the country to obtain citizenship?

Some countries require a visit during the application process, while others do not. This varies by program.

21. What types of investments are typically required for CBI programs?

The most common types of investments are donations to a national development fund, real estate investments, government bonds, and business investments.

22. Are there any countries that do not allow their citizens to hold dual citizenship?

Yes, some countries do not allow dual citizenship, such as China and India. It's important to check the laws of your current country of citizenship before applying for a CBI program.

23. Can I include my parents in my CBI application?

Some CBI programs allow you to include dependent parents in your application. The age requirement for dependent parents varies by program.

24. What is a "passport ranking" or "passport index"?

A passport ranking or index measures the strength of a passport based on the number of countries its holder can visit without requiring a visa, or with a visa on arrival.

25. What is the fastest CBI program?

The processing time varies by program, as of today, the fastest and most successful is the St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment program, through which you can get a citizenship and passport in 60 days.

26. What is the most affordable CBI program?

The cost of CBI programs varies widely. The most affordable and well-balanced program is in Dominica, which starts at $100,000.

Minimum Investment Required for Citizenship by Investment Programs

27. Are there any education or work experience requirements for CBI programs?

Most CBI programs do not have education or work experience requirements. The main requirements are typically the investment and a clean criminal record.

28. Can I use borrowed funds for my investment?

Most CBI programs require that the investment funds come from a legitimate source and are owned by the applicant. Using borrowed funds could complicate the application and may not be accepted.

29. What happens if my application is rejected?

If your application is rejected, the reasons for the rejection will typically be provided. Depending on the reason, you may be able to reapply. The investment is usually returned if the application is rejected, but administrative and service fees may not be refundable.

30. Can I apply for a CBI program by myself, or do I need to use an agent?

Most countries require applicants to use an authorized agent for their CBI application. The agent guides the applicant through the process and communicates with the country's citizenship by investment unit on the applicant's behalf.

31. What is an "economic citizen"?

An economic citizen is someone who has obtained citizenship in a country through an economic contribution, such as a donation or investment, rather than through traditional means like birth, marriage, or naturalization.

32. Can my citizenship be revoked?

Yes, citizenship obtained through a CBI program can be revoked if it's found that the applicant provided false information during the application process, committed a serious crime, or acted in a way that is harmful to the national interests of the country.

33. Do I need to pay taxes in the country where I obtain citizenship?

Tax obligations vary by country. Some countries only tax income earned within the country, while others have worldwide taxation. It's important to understand the tax laws of the host country before applying for a CBI program.

34. Can I vote in the country where I obtain citizenship?

In most cases, yes. Once you obtain citizenship, you generally have the same rights as any other citizen, including the right to vote.

35. Can I hold public office in the country where I obtain citizenship?

This varies by country. Some countries allow all citizens to hold public office, while others have restrictions for citizens who obtained citizenship through a CBI program.

36. Can I pass my citizenship to my children?

Yes, in most cases, citizenship obtained through a CBI program can be passed onto future generations, but the specific rules vary by country.

37. What is a "second passport"?

A second passport is a passport obtained through dual citizenship. It provides the holder with the rights and privileges of a citizen in the second country, including the freedom to travel, live, and work there.

38. What is a "CBI passport"?

A CBI passport is a passport obtained through the Citizenship by Investment program. It provides the holder with the rights and privileges of a citizen in the host country.

39. What is "visa-free travel"?

Visa-free travel means you can enter a country without a visa. The number of countries you can travel to visa-free depends on the strength of your passport.

 Visa-Free Access by Country

40. What is a "Schengen visa"?

A Schengen visa allows you to travel freely within the 26 countries of the Schengen Area in Europe. Some CBI programs, like those in Malta and Cyprus, grant citizenship that includes the right to live, work, and travel within the Schengen Area.

41. What is "visa-on-arrival"?

Visa-on-arrival means you can obtain a visa when you arrive in a country, rather than having to apply for one before you travel.

42. What is an "eVisa"?

An eVisa is a visa that you can apply for online, without having to submit your passport for a visa sticker or stamp.

43. What is "permanent residency"?

Permanent residency is a status that allows a person to live and work indefinitely in a country where they are not a citizen.

44. What is the difference between citizenship and permanent residency?

Citizenship gives a person full rights, including the right to vote and hold a passport. Permanent residency allows a person to live and work in a country, but they may not have all the rights of a citizen, and they may lose their status if they live outside the country for a certain period of time.

45. What is a "passport program"?

A passport program is another term for a Citizenship by Investment program. It refers to the process of obtaining a passport (and citizenship) through an investment or donation.

46. What is a "citizenship program"?

A citizenship program is a program that allows a person to obtain citizenship, usually through investment, donation, or naturalization.

47. What is "dual citizenship"?

Dual citizenship, also known as dual nationality, is a status in which a person is a citizen of two countries.

48. What is a "real estate investment option"?

A real estate investment involves purchasing property. Some Citizenship by Investment programs offer the option to invest in real estate to qualify for citizenship.

49. What is a "business investment"?

A business investment involves investing money in a qualified business. Some Citizenship by Investment programs offer the option to invest in a business to qualify for citizenship.

50. What is a "national development fund"?

A national development fund is a fund set up by a country to finance development projects that include critical infrastructure, healthcare, education, etc. Some citizenship by investment programs offer the option to donate to a national development fund to qualify for citizenship.

51. What is "economic contribution"?

Economic contribution refers to the investment or donation made by an applicant to the host country's economy as part of a Citizenship by Investment program.

52. What is a "clean criminal record"?

A clean criminal record means that a person has not been convicted of a crime. Most Citizenship by Investment programs require applicants to have a clean criminal record.

53. What is a "legitimate source of funds"?

A legitimate source of funds means that the money used for the investment comes from legal activities. Applicants must usually provide proof of the source of their funds as part of the application process.

54. What is "visa-free access"?

Visa-free access means you can enter a country without a visa. The number of countries you can travel to visa-free depends on the strength of your passport.

55. What is "worldwide taxation"?

Worldwide taxation means that a person is taxed on their income from all over the world, not just the income they earn in the country where they are a resident or citizen.

56. What is a "residence permit"?

A residence permit is a document that allows a person to live in a country where they are not a citizen.

57. What is an "authorized agent"?

An authorized agent is a person or company that is officially authorized to assist applicants with their Citizenship by Investment application.

58. What is "passport strength"?

Passport strength refers to the number of countries a passport holder can travel to without needing a visa, or with a visa on arrival.

59. What is a "second citizenship"?

Second citizenship is the status of being a citizen of a second country, in addition to one's original citizenship. This is often obtained through a Citizenship by Investment program.

60. What is "naturalization"?

Naturalization is the process by which a person becomes a citizen of a country where they were not born, usually after living there for a certain period of time.

61. What is a "dependent"?

A dependent is a person who relies on another for financial support. In the context of Citizenship by Investment programs, dependents often include a spouse, children, and sometimes parents or grandparents.

62. What is "visa-on-arrival access"?

Visa-on-arrival access means you can obtain a visa when you arrive in a country, rather than having to apply for one before you travel.

63. What is a "holding period"?

A holding period is the length of time an investment must be held before it can be sold. Some Citizenship by Investment programs require real estate investments to be held for a certain period of time (usually between 3 and 7 years).

64. What are "administrative and service fees"?

Administrative fees are fees charged to cover the cost of processing an application or providing a service. In the context of Citizenship by Investment programs, these fees cover the cost of processing the application.

65. What is a "clean bill of health"?

A clean bill of health typically means that a person is in good health. Some Citizenship by Investment programs may require applicants to undergo a medical examination to ensure they do not have any serious or contagious diseases.

66. What is "proof of source of funds"?

Proof of source of funds is documentation that shows where an applicant's money comes from. This is often required in Citizenship by Investment applications to ensure that the funds come from legal sources.

67. What is "proof of identity"?

Proof of identity is documentation that verifies a person's identity. This often includes documents like a passport or national ID card.

68. What is "proof of residence"?

Proof of residence is documentation that verifies a person's residential address. This could include documents like a utility bill or a lease agreement.

69. How does the due diligence process work in a Citizenship by Investment program?

The due diligence process involves a thorough background check on the applicant. This includes verifying the applicant's identity, checking for any criminal records, and ensuring the legitimacy of the source of funds. The process is carried out by specialized due diligence firms and can take several weeks or months.

70. What happens if a country I have citizenship in does not allow dual citizenship?

If a country does not allow dual citizenship, you may be required to renounce your original citizenship in order to obtain citizenship in another country. It's important to understand the laws of your current country of citizenship before applying for a Citizenship by Investment program.

 Number of Passports Allowed by Country

71. What are the implications of renouncing my original citizenship?

Renouncing your original citizenship can have significant implications. You may lose certain rights in your original country, such as the right to vote or access to social benefits. It can also affect your tax obligations and your ability to live and work in that country.

72. How does a Citizenship by Investment passport affect my tax liabilities?

Obtaining a second citizenship can have tax implications, depending on the tax laws of the countries involved. Some countries tax their citizens on worldwide income, while others only tax income earned within the country. It's important to consult with a tax advisor before applying for a Citizenship by Investment program.

73. Can a Citizenship by Investment program be a way to protect my assets?

Yes, obtaining a second citizenship can provide a level of protection for your assets. It can offer more financial privacy, access to different investment opportunities, and potentially favorable tax laws. However, it's important to comply with all legal and tax obligations in the countries where you hold citizenship.

74. What are the potential risks of a Citizenship by Investment program?

Risks can include changes in government policy, economic instability in the host country, and potential reputational risk if the program is associated with illicit activities. It's important to thoroughly research the program and consult with a trusted advisor before applying.

75. How can I ensure that my investment is safe?

It's important to thoroughly research the investment options and the economic stability of the host country. Using a reputable agent and seeking independent legal and financial advice can also help ensure that your investment is safe.

76. What happens if the government changes after I obtain citizenship?

In most cases, a change in government does not affect the status of citizens, including those who obtained citizenship through a Citizenship by Investment program. However, government policies can change, which could potentially affect the benefits of the program.

77. Can political instability in the host country affect my citizenship status?

Political instability can lead to changes in government policy, which could potentially affect Citizenship by Investment programs. However, once citizenship is granted, it is usually permanent and not affected by political changes.

78. What happens if I lose my Citizenship by Investment passport?

If you lose your passport, you should report it to the authorities of the country that issued it as soon as possible. You will likely need to go through a process to get a replacement, which may involve providing proof of identity and citizenship and paying a fee.

79. How does a Citizenship by Investment program affect my current citizenship status?

Obtaining a second citizenship through a Citizenship by Investment program does not typically affect your current citizenship status, unless your current country of citizenship does not allow dual citizenship.

80. What is the impact of a Citizenship by Investment program on my family's status?

Most Citizenship by Investment programs allow for the inclusion of family members in the application. This means that your family can also obtain the benefits of the program, including visa-free travel and the right to live, work, and study in the host country.

81. Can I lose my Citizenship by Investment if I don't visit the country?

Most Citizenship by Investment programs do not require you to reside in or regularly visit the country to maintain your citizenship. However, the specific requirements can vary by program.

82. What are the implications of a Citizenship by Investment program on my business operations?

Obtaining a second citizenship can provide benefits for business operations, such as access to new markets, potential tax advantages, and increased mobility. However, it can also come with additional legal and regulatory obligations.

83. Can a Citizenship by Investment program protect me from extradition?

Citizenship does not typically protect a person from extradition. Extradition is governed by treaties between countries and is based on the principle of legal cooperation.

84. What happens if the Citizenship by Investment program is discontinued after I obtain citizenship?

If a Citizenship by Investment program is discontinued, it does not typically affect those who have already obtained citizenship through the program. Once citizenship is granted, it is usually permanent and cannot be revoked unless it was obtained fraudulently.

85. Can a Citizenship by Investment program be a way to escape legal issues in my home country?

Citizenship by Investment programs require a thorough background check, and applicants with serious criminal records or pending legal issues are usually not accepted. Furthermore, obtaining a second citizenship does not exempt a person from legal obligations in their home country.

86. What is the impact of sanctions on a Citizenship by Investment program?

Sanctions imposed by international bodies or countries can affect Citizenship by Investment programs. For example, they can limit the ability of citizens to open international bank accounts or conduct business internationally.

87. Can a Citizenship by Investment program help me avoid military service in my home country?

Obtaining a second citizenship does not typically exempt a person from military service obligations in their home country. Military service obligations are governed by the laws of each individual country.

88. What is the impact of a Citizenship by Investment program on my access to healthcare and social benefits?

As a citizen, you would typically have the same access to healthcare and social benefits as any other citizen of the host country. However, the specifics can vary by country and program.

89. What are the top Citizenship by Investment programs for entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs often look for programs that offer business-friendly environments, access to global markets, and potential tax advantages. The best program for an entrepreneur can depend on their specific business needs and goals, and usually it is not a one-size-fits-all solution. It could include a second passport, a residence permit, and offshore structuring.

90. Which Citizenship by Investment programs offer the best lifestyle benefits?

Lifestyle benefits can include factors like climate, culture, education, healthcare, and safety. The best program for lifestyle benefits can depend on individual preferences and lifestyle goals.

91. What are the most affordable Citizenship by Investment programs?

Affordability can be a key factor for many applicants. The Caribbean region offers some of the most affordable programs, but the best program for affordability can vary depending on the particular investment options and fees of each program. As of today, one of the most affordable and well-balanced programs is considered to be Dominica citizenship by investment.

92. What are the best Citizenship by Investment programs for families?

Families often look for programs that allow for the inclusion of family members in the application and offer benefits like access to quality education and healthcare. The best program for families can depend on the specific needs and goals of the family. One of the best programs for large families could be in Antigua and Barbuda or Dominica.

93. Which Citizenship by Investment programs offer the most powerful passports?

The power of a passport is often measured by the number of countries its holder can travel to without a visa or with a visa on arrival. The most powerful passports offered by CBI programs are those of Malta, Austria, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, and St. Lucia.

94. What are the best Citizenship by Investment programs for tax planning?

Tax planning can be a key consideration for many applicants. The best program for tax planning can depend on the tax laws of the host country and the individual's financial situation. Caribbean countries offer the most affordable programs for tax planning.

95. Which Citizenship by Investment programs offer the best real estate investment opportunities?

Real estate investments can offer potential financial returns and lifestyle benefits. The best program for real estate investment can depend on the real estate market of the host country and the individual's investment goals.

96. What are the best Citizenship by Investment programs for global mobility?

Global mobility refers to the ability to travel and do business internationally. The best program for global mobility can depend on the visa-free travel access offered by the host country's passport. Usually, top passports have the most visa-free access, such as those of Malta, Austria, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, and St. Lucia.

97. Which Citizenship by Investment programs are the most popular and why?

The popularity of a program can depend on factors like cost, processing time, investment options, and the benefits offered. The most popular programs are often those that offer a combination of affordability, efficiency, and significant benefits. Some of the most popular programs are in Malta, Cyprus, and St. Kitts and Nevis.

98. Which Citizenship by Investment programs offer the most privacy?

Privacy can be a key consideration for high-net-worth individuals. Some programs offer more privacy than others in terms of public disclosure and the handling of personal information. But in general most of the programs in the Caribbean offer an adequate level of privacy.

99. As an American, can I benefit from a Citizenship by Investment program?

Americans, like individuals from other countries, can benefit from citizenship by investment programs. The specific benefits can depend on individual needs and goals, such as increased global mobility, potential tax advantages, and access to business opportunities.

Investment Options in Citizenship by Investment Programs

100. What are the tax implications for Americans participating in a Citizenship by Investment program?

The United States taxes its citizens on their worldwide income, regardless of where they live. Therefore, obtaining a second citizenship does not exempt Americans from U.S. tax obligations. However, there may be tax advantages depending on the tax laws of the host country.

101. Can I renounce my U.S. citizenship if I obtain a second citizenship?

Yes, it is possible for U.S. citizens to renounce their citizenship, but it is a serious decision that can have significant consequences, including tax implications. It's important to consult with a professional before making this decision.

102. Can a Citizenship by Investment program help me avoid the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA)?

FATCA requires foreign financial institutions to report information about financial accounts held by U.S. taxpayers, or by foreign entities in which U.S. taxpayers hold a substantial interest. Obtaining a second citizenship does not exempt U.S. citizens from FATCA.

103. What are the best Citizenship by Investment programs for Americans seeking global mobility?

While U.S. passport holders already have significant global mobility, a second citizenship can provide additional travel options, particularly to countries where the U.S. has travel restrictions. Great examples would include: Grenada, Dominica, Malta

104. What are the best Citizenship by Investment programs for Americans interested in business expansion?

A second citizenship can provide Americans with access to new markets, potential tax advantages, and increased business opportunities. The best program for business expansion can depend on the business environment of the host country and the individual's business goals.

105. Can a Citizenship by Investment program provide Americans with better access to healthcare or education abroad?

Yes, a second citizenship can provide Americans with access to healthcare and education systems in the host country, which may be beneficial depending on individual needs and goals.

106. What are the best Citizenship by Investment programs for Americans interested in real estate investment?

Some Citizenship by Investment programs offer the opportunity to invest in real estate. The best program for real estate investment can depend on the real estate market of the host country and the individual's investment goals.

107. What are the implications for Americans of holding dual citizenship?

The United States recognizes dual citizenship. However, U.S. citizens are subject to U.S. laws and obligations, regardless of their second citizenship. This includes tax obligations and potential military service.

108. Can a Citizenship by Investment program help Americans protect their assets?

A second citizenship can provide a level of protection for assets, offer more financial privacy, and give access to different investment opportunities. However, it's important to comply with all legal and tax obligations in the countries where you hold citizenship.

109. As an American, how can a Citizenship by Investment program enhance my travel freedom?

While the U.S. passport already provides substantial travel freedom, a second citizenship can offer additional visa-free travel options, particularly to countries where the U.S. has travel restrictions or requires a visa.

110. What are the best Citizenship by Investment programs for Americans interested in living abroad?

The best programs for living abroad depend on individual lifestyle preferences, including climate, culture, safety, healthcare, and education. Some programs also offer the right to live, work, and study in other countries, such as those in the European Union.

111. Can a Citizenship by Investment program help me with estate planning as an American?

Yes, a second citizenship can provide additional options for estate planning, such as the ability to pass on multiple citizenships to future generations. However, U.S. citizens are subject to U.S. estate taxes, regardless of where they live.

112. How can a Citizenship by Investment program help me diversify my investment portfolio as an American?

A second citizenship can provide Americans with access to new investment opportunities not available in the U.S. This can include real estate investments, business investments, and other financial products.

113. What are the implications for Americans of holding a non-U.S. bank account?

U.S. citizens must report foreign bank accounts to the U.S. Department of Treasury if the total value of their foreign accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the calendar year. This is required regardless of whether the U.S. citizen lives in the U.S. or abroad.

114. Can a Citizenship by Investment program help me avoid the U.S. Exit Tax?

The U.S. imposes an Exit Tax on certain high net-worth individuals who renounce their citizenship. Obtaining a second citizenship does not exempt U.S. citizens from the Exit Tax if they decide to renounce their U.S. citizenship.

115. What are the best Citizenship by Investment programs for Americans interested in philanthropic opportunities?

Some Citizenship by Investment programs offer the opportunity to make a donation to a national development fund or other charitable causes as part of the investment requirement. This can be an attractive option for Americans interested in philanthropy.

116. How can a Citizenship by Investment program help me expand my business internationally as an American?

A second citizenship can provide Americans with access to new markets, potential tax advantages, and increased business opportunities. This can be particularly beneficial for Americans interested in international business expansion.

117. What are the best Citizenship by Investment programs for Americans interested in privacy?

While all Citizenship by Investment programs require a certain level of disclosure to process the application, some programs offer more privacy than others in terms of public disclosure and the handling of personal information.

118. Can a Citizenship by Investment program help me access better healthcare or education for my family as an American?

Yes, a second citizenship can provide Americans with access to healthcare and education systems in the host country. This can be particularly beneficial for Americans looking for better healthcare or education options abroad.

Remember to always consult with a trusted advisor when considering a Citizenship by Investment program, as the details and requirements can change and vary by country.

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Victoria

Lead Attorney at Golden Harbors

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Victoria

Lead Attorney at Golden Harbors

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