Several regions around the world today are increasingly facing up to wars, political instability, civil unrest or economic stagnation. Sometimes these troublesome situations arise unexpectedly, causing people to look for an escape route to places that guarantee safety and security for their families and where they can start afresh.
In line with that trend, wealthy individuals from the developing world are increasingly considering the various schemes available that allow them to buy passports of a different country for themselves and their families. Besides providing passage to a safe haven where one can settle down, such passport schemes are an attractive investment option and an avenue to safeguard one’s wealth.
The trend of investment immigration is especially evident in China, with millions of rich Chinese nationals migrating to developed nations through purchased citizenships. A similar trend has also been recently observed among Russian nationals, who purchased a record number of UK investor visas last year in an attempt to flee the growing instability caused by the economic sanctions imposed upon Russia due to the crisis in Ukraine.
A number of countries offer citizenships in exchange for a significant investment in bonds or property, while others offer golden visa programs that provide long-term residency in exchange for real estate purchases. Statistics reveal that more and more wealthy people from China, Russia and the Middle East are making use of the immigration investor programs offered by these countries and it is expected that the demand will increase further as people from troubled areas look for safer places to call home.
According to Arton Capital’s CEO, Armand Arton, the demand for investor visas is increasing by 15% every year, and this trend is expected to continue in the foreseeable future. “Wealthy people are looking for safe places to relocate in case of crisis,” says Arton, who believes that rich investors will increasingly consider purchasing residencies due to the additional perks that come with them like access to education and public services, and visa-free travel.
Last year saw the US exhausting its quota of investor visas, most of which were rapidly purchased by Chinese investor applicants. At the same time, just as the UK received a record number of applications from Russian nationals, so too did Bulgaria, Malta and Ireland, where the investor immigration programs are especially attractive to Russian investors facing economic deterioration in their country.
The past thirty years have seen a boom in the investor visa industry. The first programs that offered citizenship or residency in exchange for investments were started in Australia, North America and the UK. These countries were considered by rich investors as the ideal place to relocate to, and thus received the largest number of investor immigrants in the world.
The year 2013 saw several hundred investor visas being granted in countries like Portugal, St Kitts and Nevis, and Bulgaria. Hungary alone granted 1,075 investor visas in 2013. According to data from Arton Capital, the number of countries offering citizenship or residency in exchange for investments has more than doubled over the last ten years, and the trends suggest that the cash-for-passports industry is set to expand even further in the coming years.
Several countries in Europe offer what is known as the ‘Golden Visa’ programs, which were started primarily to pull out their stagnant economies from the financial crisis by attracting investments from wealthy entrepreneurs or businessmen from abroad. The same strategy was also followed by a number of Caribbean nations who started programs offering citizenships to eligible investors.
A lot of interest was generated by the investor immigration program launched by Malta in 2014, which requires a partially non-refundable investment of US $1.4 million in order to qualify for the country’s citizenship. The program has received 400 applications already from 40 different countries, according to advisory firm Henley & Partners, which administers the investor program together with the Maltese government.
Closely competing with the Maltese program is the one offered by Cyprus, which grants citizenship upon an investment of €2.5 million ($2.9 million) in real estate.
One of the least expensive programs is run by Dominica, a small Caribbean country. Here you can purchase citizenship for just $100,000. As competition in the industry increases, certain countries are taking steps to make their programs more attractive than others. Bulgaria, for instance, has offered to fast-track a citizenship application if the investors double their required investment of €512,000 ($594,600).
Despite the availability of several investment immigration programs, getting citizenship is not just a matter of investing money, as stringent background checks are carried out, and restrictive conditions are applied. “They are very careful about who they will take. Quite often an application is not accepted,” explains Mark Stannard of Henley & Partners, Malta.
Source: cnn.comGeneral Information: Contact us to receive more information about this article.
Interested Investors: Kindly complete the following form and we will contact you to discuss your global residency and citizenship investment options.