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Globalisation has blurred many of the borders and boundaries that once separated countries. At the same time, geopolitical upheavals have disrupted the lives of people around the world, goading them to seek refuge, comfort, or quality in a country other than their own. A third factor is the human need to mitigate risks or hedge against the damage that unpredictability can cause, whether it is a political, financial or health crisis.

Access to broader audiences

Once the purview of wealthy families and high-net-worth individuals, migration and second citizenship is now commonplace and is increasingly attractive to larger swathes of audiences. “The pandemic democratised second citizenship, making it more accessible to a broader audience,” explains Michael Waechter, Managing Director of Abode Options, a leading firm for immigration and citizenship by investment. “Economic citizenship programmes have also adapted with more affordable options and flexible investment thresholds, thus appealing to a wider demographic seeking global mobility and security.”

Michael Waechter, Managing Director of Abode Options Image Credit:

The United Nations’ International Organisation for Migration (IOM) has been collecting data that shows how international migration remains uniform, but continues to grow. By their very nature, the complex dynamics of global migration can never be fully measured, understood and regulated, says the authority. However, as their World Migration Report 2022 shows, their continuously growing and improving body of data helps make better sense of the key features of migration.

There are several pathways for international migration, including citizenship by birth, descent, marriage, investment, and naturalisation, each with specific conditions and regulations that dictate acquisition. Concurrently, this is fuelling an increase in the desire to acquire a second citizenship, or dual citizenship, with a variety of advantages linked to both.

Choice lifestyles

In the UAE, residents pursuing immigration or dual citizenship vary greatly in their cultural, socio-economic backgrounds, as well as by age, profession, and nationality. “We foresee a significant uptick in UAE residents pursuing permanent residency in other countries during 2024-25,” says Karthik Sundarajan, Assistant Vice President at Y-Axis, the world’s leading immigration and education consultants. “While the UAE offers a wealth of job opportunities and an attractive lifestyle, many are drawn to the security and long-term benefits that permanent residency can provide.”

Karthik Sundarajan, Assistant Vice President at Y-Axis Image Credit:

Their needs and preferences play a great role in choice of destination. Wealthier residents who can afford real estate investment as a path to citizenship look at jurisdictions like Malta, Cyprus, Spain and Portugal, in addition to evergreen choices like the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand. “European countries like Portugal, Greece, and Spain have gained popularity due to their attractive lifestyles, access to quality education and healthcare, and potential paths to citizenship after fulfilling residency requirements,” explains Waechter, whose firm helps residents obtain citizenship and residency in over 14 countries.

Attractive and affordable

Those who want greater ease of global travel opt for Caribbean passports like Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua and Barbuda, through investor programmes. “The UAE has many thousand expatriates who have low mobility scores on their current passports, making the Caribbean citizenship programmes very attractive, as they do not require them to live outside the UAE to obtain their second citizenship or passport,” says Waechter. Besides visa-free access to several nations, these passports are comparatively affordable.

Younger residents are enamoured with digital nomad visas from different countries. Y-Axis says it receives numerous enquiries about digital nomad visas from the UAE residents, and as Sundarajan explains, “Digital nomad visas represent a tremendously exciting shift in the world of work, demonstrating flexibility and transformative experiences. We encourage all who are working remotely to explore the digital nomad visa option.”

He points out that irrespective of the pathway, the choice and outcome almost always relates to greater security. “A substantial number of clients who obtain permanent residency overseas choose to return to the UAE, viewing the residency elsewhere only as a backup option.”

While the IOM says international migration continues to be shaped by economic, geographic, and demographic factors that result in distinct migration patterns, the increase in international migrants which has been evident over time — both numerically and proportionally — is faster than previously anticipated. Market intelligence reports also point to growth potential, with the global immigration service market anticipated to rise considerably between 2024 and 2031.

A force for good

Earlier this year, the IOM launched its first ever Global Annual Appeal, calling for $7.9 billion to support its operations and help create a system that realises migration’s promise as a force for good throughout the world. Launching the appeal in Geneva, IOM Director General Amy Pope summed it up: “The evidence is overwhelming that migration, when well-managed, is a major contributor to global prosperity and progress.”

Recognising migrant talent

Shireen Kapoor, Barrister & Solicitor and Founder, Ace Shireen Kapoor Immigration Services Image Credit:

Shireen Kapoor, Barrister & Solicitor and Founder, Ace Shireen Kapoor Immigration Services reveals the benefits of migrating to Canada and a brief outlook on global immigration trends

In your expert opinion, what are the main advantages for families looking to opt to migrate to Canada?

Migrating to Canada has various benefits for families. I can tell you this from firsthand experience, as I currently reside in Canada along with my family. To begin, Canada takes pride in its exceptional education system, which provides students with high-quality educational opportunities while fostering their growth and unleashing their potential. Second, Canada has a national healthcare system that ensures families’ well-being without financial responsibilities during illness or medical emergencies.

Furthermore, Canada’s varied and tolerant society promotes a sense of belonging and acceptance, allowing families to celebrate their cultural history while assimilating into their new community. Finally, Canada’s dedication to safety and security brings peace of mind, allowing families to thrive without worry. As an immigration lawyer, observing families begin on this journey towards a brighter future invokes a tremendous feeling of fulfilment. They are not just moving for better prospects, but also for a more meaningful and happy life together.

As a thought leader in the immigration space, how do you see the sector evolving and growing over the next five years, and how could this positively impact residents in the UAE looking at migration options?

I believe that the industry will develop and alter significantly in the next few years. With increased globalisation and interconnection, countries recognise the significance of talented migrants, resulting in more simplified and accessible immigration procedures. This trend might greatly assist UAE citizens who are evaluating relocation choices. Not only does it provide easier access to nations such as Canada, it also holds promise for a brighter future full of opportunity for personal and professional development. Imagine the joy of families reuniting, children flourishing in new educational contexts, and adults achieving their professional goals. Emotionally, it represents the promise of a better life, free of the restraints that may exist in their current situation.

As an immigration lawyer, witnessing these dreams come true is not just my profession but my passion, fuelling my dedication to facilitating these life-changing journeys.