UofT Law faculty authors: 

Ethics & International Affairs 32 (2018), 3-13


In today’s age of restrictionism, a growing number of countries are closing their gates of admission to most categories of would-be immigrants with one important exception. Governments increasingly seek to lure and attract “high value” migrants, especially those with access to large sums of capital. These individuals are offered golden visa programs that lead to fast-tracked naturalization in exchange for a hefty investment, in some cases without inhabiting or even setting foot in the passport-issuing country to which they now officially belong. In the U.S. context, the contrast between the “Dreamers” and “Parachuters” helps to draw out this distinction between civic ties and credit lines as competing bases for membership acquisition. Drawing attention to these seldom-discussed citizenship-for-sale practices, this essay highlights their global surge and critically evaluates the legal, normative, and distributional quandaries they raise. I further argue that purchased membership goods cannot replicate or substitute the meaningful links to a political community that make citizenship valuable and worth upholding in the first place.