Super-rich from India, US and UK lead surge in investment migration inquiries

Covid-19, climate change and the conflict in Europe are driving the surge in migration, study by Henley & Partners found

Wealthy investors from the Middle East are increasingly securing second passports through investment migration-linked programmes. Getty Images
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Ultra-high net worth individuals from India, the US and UK accounted for the bulk of investment migration inquiries in 2021, a report by residence and citizenship planning company Henley & Partners has said.

Indian citizens accounted for the highest number of investment migration inquiries last year by a significant margin, the report said, and queries within this group surged 54 per cent annually.

US citizens were next, with a 26 per cent increase in such inquiries during the same period, the report found. Inquiries by Britons and South Africans shot up 110 per cent and 38 per cent, respectively, in 2021, Henley & Partners said.

Investment migration refers to wealthy investors acquiring alternative residence or additional citizenship in exchange for a substantial contribution to the host country.

The Middle East and Africa have seen strong surges in investment migration solutions since the outbreak of the pandemic
Philippe Amarante, managing partner at Henley & Partners

“The Middle East and Africa have seen strong surges in investment migration solutions since the outbreak of the pandemic,” said Philippe Amarante, managing partner at Henley & Partners and head of the company’s Dubai office.

“This applies both to inbound investment migration programmes such as the UAE’s Golden Visa options and outbound in the form of investors securing second or third homes via investment migration-linked real estate acquisitions. Particular countries of interest in this regard are Greece, Portugal and Spain.”

The global residence and citizenship-by-investment industry was valued at $21.4 billion annually, statistics compiled in 2019 by Investment Migration Insider showed. By 2025, the market could generate $100bn in revenue, the magazine predicts.

The cost of acquiring a second citizenship or permanent residence ranges from $100,000 to $2.5 million, the International Monetary Fund found.

Such programmes date back to the 1980s, when tax havens in the Pacific and Caribbean began to attract wealthy foreigners. Canada and the US were among other early adopters. Programmes have also been launched by Austria, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, Malta, Portugal, South Korea, Thailand, the UAE, UK, Vanuatu and most recently Bahrain, among others.

The UAE introduced Golden Visas, which are valid for up to 10 years, to encourage exceptional workers and foreign investors to seek deeper roots in the country.

UAE golden visa: who is eligible and how to apply?

UAE golden visa: who is eligible and how to apply?

While Covid-19 and climate change drove wealth and investment migration in the past two years, conflict in Europe has now emerged as a new factor, the Henley & Partners report said.

“In addition to the traditional benefits of enhanced global mobility, residence and citizenship-by-investment programmes offer a proven risk mitigation and growth diversification strategy in terms of wealth and legacy planning with the added lifestyle advantage of domicile optionality,” said Dominic Volek, group head of private clients at Henley & Partners.

The Brexit effect is driving interest for investment migration among UK nationals, the company said.

“The vast majority [of inquiries] relate to what options Brits now have in terms of alternative residence or additional citizenship in the wake of the UK’s exit from the EU,” said Stuart Wakeling, head of the company’s London office.

The biggest growth in investment migration inquiries in Europe, however, came from Turkey, the report found.

Meanwhile, the US, China and Japan ranked among the top three countries in terms of privately held wealth, according to Henley & Partners and global wealth intelligence company New World Wealth.

The US accounts for 32 per cent of total global wealth and 36 per cent of the world’s millionaires. The total private wealth held in the country currently amounts to $68.8 trillion, the report said.

The US also experienced the highest high-net-worth (HNW) population growth last year, at 10 per cent.

China has only a third of America’s private wealth at $23.3tn, and its HNW population grew by only 4 per cent. Japan has a total private wealth of $20.1tn.

India, Germany, the UK, Australia, Canada, France and Italy round out the list of countries with the most private wealth, the report added.

Updated: March 23, 2022, 9:46 AM