Leaders immigration
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The pandemic, geopolitical risks and global economic uncertainties have created a sense of urgency to explore opportunities for skilled migration and alternative residence and citizenship for career growth, greater mobility and family security. Top industry leaders share their thoughts on the potential of the sector, while highlighting how they strive to improve its professional standards and help prospective immigrants navigate the complexities of moving abroad and securing a second passport

“Our fully transparent process makes us a trusted immigration consultant”

Clint Khan, Director, Y-Axis

Clint Khan

Canada has always been a popular destination for immigration. What are the key things prospective immigrants must keep in mind before applying for a Canadian immigration programme?

It is important to get immigration advice from a registered consultant who is bound by a code of conduct. Currently, a growing number of inexperienced consultants are offering Immigration advice.

Clients should do thorough research on getting information on Canada’s immigration from official websites, and be aware of the pros and cons of applying for an immigration programme. They should discuss their eligibility, and their chances of success with the consultant at the initial stage. If the consultant foresees any delays and recommends alternative options for his application, the client should explore those pathways to increase their chances of success.

As one of the most reputed immigration consultants in the UAE, what are the critical components of your brand ethos and how do you maintain an edge over your competitors?

Being a leader in B2C immigration, we have been helping people achieve their global goals for many years. As one of the biggest immigration companies in the UAE, we help our clients discover the best country for them, providing them with unbiased advice on settling abroad.

Our team of immigration counsellors is keen to understand your preferences and identify the countries that can meet your aspirations, improve your career prospects, and give you a better quality of life. Then, we help you with the migration process.

We are aware of the latest immigration laws and policies and are in a position to provide you with accurate advice and help you make the right immigration decision.

As part of our portfolio of services, we provide one-on-one counselling to about 50,000 individual enquiries every month for migration, study abroad opportunities and work visas. Our fully transparent process makes us a trusted immigration consultant. Our counselling and streamlined visa application process ensures both your time and money are spent well and you get value for what you invest. We take the time to go over your preferences and requirements and suggest the best option for you.

“Due diligence should be a transparent and continually updated process”

Mimoun A. Assraoui

Mimoun A. Assraoui, CEO of RIF Trust and Vice Chairman of Latitude Group

Due diligence has become a critical component of growth in the investment migration sector. How does RIF Trust ensure that all the processes are in place for the investors as well as for the programmes they are offering?

As the recently appointed Investment Migration Council’s Regional Representative Office in the Middle East, RIF Trust considers due diligence a top priority as well as maintaining the highest levels of service and best practice for all our clients, partners and governments that we work with. Due diligence should be a transparent and continually updated process. Our government advisory and processing team works closely with governments offering CBI and RBI programmes to understand the most up-to-date due diligence requirements. This ensures that RIF Trust can best advise whether a potential investor is a good candidate for a particular citizenship or residency programme before they apply, saving both the company and the client valuable time and money.

The efforts to come up with the right investment immigration programme can be challenging. How does RIF Trust help investors make the right decision and the process seamless?

With 22 offices around the globe, RIF Trust employs over 90 industry professionals with both the local expertise and global reach to match an investor with the right programme based on their individual, family, personal and business goals.

We take our time to understand the client’s lifestyle, family structure, and what they hope to gain from acquiring a second citizenship or residency. Some clients want to expand their business abroad and others want to safeguard their family’s future through greater global mobility.

Once we understand what our client wants, we provide them with what they need. As a government-approved agent, RIF Trust only offers programmes supported by governments and we deal directly with our government partners to give our clients the best possible chance for a successful application.

We are committed to assist our clients to achieve their life goals by providing them with residency and citizenship solutions that guarantee that they ‘SMILE’ through Safety, Mobility, Investment opportunities, Lifestyle, and Employment/Education.

“US EB-5 Regional Centre Programme is now back with a new price point”

Preeya Malik, Managing Director, Step Global

Preeya Malik

What are the latest updates on US investor migration programme?

The US EB-5 Regional Centre Programme was brought back to life on March 15, 2022, under the new price point of $800,000 for a green card for the investor, the investor’s spouse, and children under 21 years of age. Earlier, investors could choose direct projects at a price point of $500,000 for a green card. The increase in price has, however, not led to a decline in enquiries. In fact, we have noted a renewed interest in the programme. Along with the price increase came many important changes to the programme which have been in negotiations over the last several months. To give all Regional Centres and participants the time to comply with the changes in the programme, the government has provided a 60-day time frame in which they will not accept new applications. Therefore, new applicants are encouraged to begin collecting documents and reserving space in a project of their choice so that once the 60-day window ends on May 15, their application can be filed immediately. In the interim period, USCIS has restarted processing previous applications, which were on hold until now.

The efforts to come up with the right investment immigration programme can be challenging. How does Step Global help investors make the right decision and the process seamless?

Step Global has experience of over 8 years in the GCC, Middle East, India, and Africa. We have assisted hundreds of families with a smooth transition to permanent residency in the US with a 100 per cent track record of approvals across all applications. I am the Managing Director of Step Global and a US-licensed lawyer specialised in immigration with over 12 years of experience in the EB-5 industry. I’m based in Dubai so that I can easily meet with clients and be available to assist throughout the application process. Our extensive network of lawyers, real estate specialists, immigration specialists, and projects make our team unique. We have one of the most intricate global networks when it comes to investment immigration and are able to provide clients with all the solutions necessary for a satisfying experience, which can otherwise seem to be a daunting process.

“We treat our clients like family”

Tony Ebraheem

Tony Ebraheem, Founder, Lawyer, 111 Immigration

Due diligence is a key consideration in the CBI sector. What steps have you taken to ensure that your due diligence process is top-notch?

Due diligence process has always been critical in the CBI industry — a key reason for steady growth in the sector. At 111 Immigration, we don’t get clients on board without conducting necessary checks, while approaching various legitimate and credible sources as well as verifying every single transaction in the client’s and their company’s bank accounts.

We undertake these steps to ensure that we are comfortable to work with them. Regulations and rules in the sector keep changing, so in order to stay one step ahead of the competition and maintain a transparent relationship with our clients, we regularly attend courses on anti-money laundering so that we can easily detect the red flags, while processing the applications.

What are the key benefits clients get from 111 Immigration’s support and services?

We are not like any other company in the industry. 111 Immigration is a law firm specialised in citizenship and residency by investment programmes in 16 countries. Furthermore, we treat our clients like family. Citizenships and passports that clients get with our help are just the beginning of a long professional relationship and all our clients can confirm the same.

“We offer tailor-made services”

Michael Waechter

Michael Waechter, Director, Abode OptionS

Are there any focus countries that people are showing interest in to migrate through investments this year?

The Caribbean countries have been the chart toppers because of efficient processes and ease of travel. Admittedly, a lot of people opting for the Caribbean programme may not necessarily migrate to one of these countries but they wish to enjoy the advantages of the respective passport while residing in another country.

How are the European nations performing when it comes to investment migration?

The European immigration has seen major upheavals in recent times because of changing geopolitical scenarios. However, many people are still keen to migrate to Europe for obvious reasons such as lifestyle, culture and social benefits like education and healthcare. Portugal is especially popular as it has the least commitment of stay to maintain the residency and is, therefore, a top choice among people from the MENA. The UK is a popular destination for investor immigrants, but the Tier 1 investor visa was recently prorogued. We anticipate that the authorities will come up with a new programme soon that will make the UK an attractive target for investors once again.

What are the key benefits that clients get from Abode Options’ citizenship and residency by investment programmes?

Citizenship and residency by investment is only a part of the portfolio management that many HNWIs and UHNIs are looking for. At Abode Options, we offer our clients a wide array of tailor-made services including corporate services, family office services, and estate planning. Being part of a group that encompasses not just second citizenship, we can offer our clients services in fields like legal consulting, accounting, and compliance services, which helps to address requirements that are often linked to a change in citizenship or residency.

“Wealthy business owners opt for investment migration to mitigate risks and grow their businesses”

Vrinda Gupta

Vrinda Gupta, Brand Custodian, Vazir Group

What are the key trends shaping skilled and investment migration?

Over the past few years, we have noticed a surge in enquiries for migration by investment from high-net-worth-individuals from India, the Middle East, and Africa. International investors, talented individuals, and other high-net-worth-individuals are interested in investment migration programmes not only because of the after-effects of Covid-19 and climate change but also to secure a more stable future for themselves and their families.

Through migration by investment programmes, they benefit from the tax havens provided by countries such as Portugal and Malta, and the Caribbean nations. Wealthy business owners opt for this pathway to mitigate various risks and grow their businesses.

How does Vazir Group help clients successfully navigate the immigration process?

With Vazir Group’s services, clients receive assistance in their migration process as well as in the expansion of their business in Canada. At the moment, Canada is a very attractive place for investors. Many businesses with headquarters in the Middle East, India, and Africa have either started a new business in Canada or acquired a franchisee of an existing business through Canada’s intra-company transfer (ICT) programme.

Our team will assist the clients throughout the ICT process — from drafting the business plan, forming the Canadian company, applying for work permits for the employees of the Canadian company, to leading them to apply for permanent residency.

“Portuguese Golden Visa provides the opportunity to invest in projects with high returns and appreciation”

David Machado

David Machado, Partner, PT GoldenVisa

Many EU-nations are planning to implement strict rules on Golden Visas. Against this backdrop, why do you think this is the right time to invest in Portugal and secure an investor’s future?

In these uncertain times, it is critical for investors to have a safe backup plan for their families. Covid-19 and other unfortunate events have made people more worried about their future. Due to this, the immigration sector is experiencing a higher demand than ever before from clients seeking residency and second citizenship. They have realised the importance of securing a better and safer future for the loved ones. Portuguese Golden Visa provides the opportunity to invest in projects with high returns and appreciation. No one can guarantee that this RBI programmes will not stop one day, and that is why we recommend our interested clients to proceed as fast as possible to secure their cards and freedom.

What are the key benefits of Portugal’s Golden Visa?

After obtaining the residency cards, the investor and his dependants are able to travel freely within 26 Schengen countries. They can live, work, study or even establish a business not just in Portugal but also in other Schengen nations. In addition, investors immediately gain an access to Portugal’s public hospitals at no charge as well as to European universities and job markets. Another advantage of Portuguese Golden Visa is that the investor becomes eligible for the EU passport after 5 years without any requirement for relocation. Just 14 days of stay in Portugal once in two years is enough to qualify for a passport. Portuguese passport is ranked as the sixth most powerful passport in the world. Applying for a Portuguese Golden Visa brings new opportunities of wealth generation – from exciting business prospects to long-term plans for retirement. High-net-worth-individuals from countries with weak passports or political instability, can find the safe place to live and work in Portugal.

“An immigration firm plays a key role in citizenship application”

Imran Farooq

Imran Farooq, CEO, AAA Associates

Are there any new focus countries that people are showing interest in for migration after nations started opening their borders to travellers?

Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis have traditionally been the hot favourites among investors for investment and family purposes. The key benefits of both the programmes are low investments, short turnaround time and visa-free or visa-on-arrival access to more than 100 countries.

Dominica’s passport gives either visa-free or visa-on-arrival entry to more than 140 countries out of 195 countries in the world, including countries in the Schengen area, the UK, Singapore and China.

St Kitts and Nevis allows access to 152 countries, including the Schengen nations, the UK and Singapore.

Recently, Portugal’s Golden Visa residency by investment programme has grabbed the attention of investors as Portugal is a member of the EU, and it is a developed country with established systems.

How critical is it for investors to consult an authorised agent for their CBI application?

A strong immigration firm plays a key role in the success of the second citizenship application process. With a No Approval, No Fee offer, 27-year-strong track record, a highly proficient sales and processing team, and being one of the largest immigration firms in the Middle East, AAA Associates’ success rate is 100 per cent.

“WWICS always strives to provide hassle-free services to aspirants”

Anwar Karim

Anwar Karim, Group VP , WWICS Group

Does age affect Canadian and Australian applications? What are some of the investment-led immigration options available in Canada and Australia that prospective immigrants over the age of 40 can explore?

This is true that the majority of Canadian and Australian immigration programmes have an age limit of 45. However, there are several alternative options available for people aged 45 and above.

The Australian Business Innovation and Investment (Provisional) (subclass 188) Visa is for those who wish to own and manage a business in Australia.

Applicants who are under 55 years of age, can apply under this visa stream. Even the nominating state or territory might waive this requirement if the applicant’s proposed business will be of excellent economic benefit to the state or territory.

Similarly, the Canada Start-Up Visa Programme, with an innovative business plan and endorsement by the authority, could lead to permanent residency.

How does WWICS maintain an edge over other immigration consultants in the UAE?

As a globally recognised immigration consultancy firm with an extensive experience of over 28 years, WWICS always strives to provide hassle-free services to aspirants. We have a global presence with over 25 associate offices not only in the UAE but also in other GCC countries, including Qatar, Oman and Kuwait, as well as in Canada, Kenya, Nepal, and India.

We start with the technical evaluation of an applicant’s profile with a 360-degree approach, which provides applicants with enough of an idea on how much effort they need to put into securing their visa.

Another major aspect that makes us stand out from the competition is our post-landing services including airport pick-up against charges, finding subsidised accommodation, help in obtaining any government card, getting insurance, and many other services.

“Our job is to ensure our clients receive a future structure that is watertight”

John D Hanafin

John D Hanafin, Founder and CEO, Huriya Private

Is buying property for citizenship of good value?

The most popular route to citizenship remains direct donation. The second route is the option to invest in government-approved real estate. The government- approved projects are normally 5-star resorts that offer either a share or title deed as ownership in the project. The minimum holding period is five years; after that you can sell your investment to potentially recoup your full capital. Annual returns are normally between 2-4 per cent of hotel profit, with the additional benefit of being able to stay in your hotel. Another advantage is the opportunity to make an active investment in your new home country, and as mentioned earlier, you will maintain your investment for at least five years. Minimum investment in real estate starts at $220,000.

What are some of the best options currently available for residency and citizenship by investment in EU and the Caribbean?

In Europe, the most popular is the Golden Visa programme in Portugal, starting with €280,000 investment in property, with guaranteed buyback options. Malta follows that, with a lower investment amount of only €125,000.

The traditional and most well-known options of St Kitts & Nevis, Grenada and Commonwealth of Dominica are also some of our best-selling programmes due to the diverse range of benefits, travel advantages, US visa options, tax benefits, healthcare facilities, education, and business opportunities — all of which guarantee the present and future safety and freedom that our clients seek.

The efforts to come up with the right investment immigration programme can be challenging. How does Huriya Private help investors make the right decision and the process seamless?

No two client applications are the same. Many factors should be considered, from residence to taxation, inheritance structuring, education and security, before suggesting an investment migration programme. This is why it’s critical to offer tailored solutions.

The Huriya Private team includes lawyers, accountants, tax advisors, bankers, and offshore structuring specialists. Our job is to ensure our clients receive an in-depth analysis of their eligibility, a thorough run through the most suitable programme options, and a future structure that is watertight.

“Canada has launched several new PNP programmes to address growing economic migration needs”

Jafar Syed

Jafar Syed, General Manager, Cosmos Immigration

What are the latest updates on Canadian immigration?

Canada has been at the forefront of skilled immigration for many years. In the year 2021-2022, Canada over achieved its target of allowing more than 400,000 permanent residents in the country, who now call Canada home, despite challenges posed by Covid-19.

Canada has been making a speedy recovery in terms of clearing the backlog of its immigration inventory, which at the end of the year 2021, stood at 1.8 million.

Canada has launched several new Provincial Nominee Programmes (PNPs) to address growing regional economic migration needs in an effective manner while ensuring continuous improvements in the mechanism of application processing.

What is Cosmos Immigration doing differently to maintain an edge in this market and help prospective immigrants, as countries worldwide gradually emerge from the effects of the pandemic?

Cosmos Immigration delivers what it promises. Since our inception in 2014, Cosmos Immigration has established a long-standing reputation in the market. With a multilingual team of professionals, Cosmos has been providing tailored immigration pathways with a transcendent rate of success and unparalleled confidentiality standards.

Being an authorised consultant, we have an end-to-end service with a formal scrutiny of each applicant using industry-leading tools, to ensure transparency and accuracy. This is one of the primary reasons why we have created so many success stories and life-changing opportunities for our clients. All of this has led us to stay true to our motto.

“Immigration consultants need to anticipate what comes next”

Dr Sadir Al Kherdaji

Dr Sadir Al Kherdaji, Founder and Chief Legal Counsel, Al kherdaji international legal consultants

How important is it for families and businessmen around the world to consider obtaining a second citizenship?

By investing in second citizenship, an investor opens a whole new dimension to his personal, family, and business activities. They can access new markets, a new lifestyle, and a new culture. They find another place they can call home. They can make new connections, make new decisions, and contribute to the local and global economy.

CBI and RBI sector has undergone major changes — first due to Covid, followed by the Russsia-Ukraine crisis. In this situation, how could the sector position itself to overcome the critical challenges?

Such challenging times and events have created an urgent demand from the vast majority of HNWIs to step out of their comfort zones and look into, among others, investment restructuring, tax planning, wealth management, and residency planning.

HNWIs have discovered that they should diversify their investment portfolio to hedge the risks that may fall on their assets and secure their stable and sustainable physical and financial presence in the world.

As immigration consultants, we always need to anticipate what comes next in order to find better and creative solutions that benefit both the client and the consultant.