By Amanda Smit, Managing Partner at Henley & Partners
The coronavirus pandemic has provoked a sharp increase in demand for alternative residence and citizenship among high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) globally. Henley & Partners saw a notable 49% leap in enquiries between January and May 2020 compared to the same period last year. The top citizenship programs in terms of the increase in the number of applicants between Q4 2019 and Q1 2020 are the Montenegro Citizenship-by-Investment Program (up 142%) and the Cyprus Investment Programme (up 75%). Interest in the Malta Individual Investor Program remains steadily high, but the cap of 1,800 main applicants will soon be reached.
Acquiring citizenship of Cyprus or Malta enables investors and their families to live, work, or study anywhere in Europe. This appeals to applicants who are looking to secure safer futures for their families post Covid-19, as many European countries such as Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, and Greece have managed the pandemic relatively well. Heightened border controls mean it is crucial for those who wish to preserve their mobility to have alternative residence or citizenship. Furthermore, a second citizenship is the only way to guarantee a place of safety for those who are concerned about how poorly their countries are performing during the coronavirus pandemic and would like the option to relocate their families to reduce the impact of future shocks. Investment migration has shifted from being about living the life you want in terms of holidays and business travel to a more holistic vision that includes healthcare and safety.
There has been a similar surge in interest in residence programs hosted by countries in Mediterranean Europe that have responded judiciously to the coronavirus pandemic and where infection numbers and death rates are comparatively low. The main drawcards of these programs are the prospect of a high quality of life, their affordability, and their pathway to citizenship of a European country after several years of residence. Applications for the Greece Golden Visa Program, and the Cyprus Permanent Residence Program have also seen a marked increase, with both countries having responded competently to the pandemic.
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