Migration is a necessary catalyst, a must-have resource that helps expedite the evolution of the global economy. Be that as it may, every once in a while, an untoward event throws a spanner in the works, impeding progress. The Covid-19 pandemic dealt a severe blow to migration plans for many families and individuals around the world with global lockdown regulations coming into effect. Today, more than five months after the pandemic first raised cause for concern, an industry is slowly but surely coming to grips with the situation as lockdown restrictions ease and sector players rally to reignite residency and citizenship by investment (CBI) programmes once again.
"The Caribbean and EU countries, which have managed to contain the spread of the virus and have stable healthcare systems, will be in greater demand for second citizenship and residency by investment. Meanwhile, smart investors will choose the larger global advisories with local expertise over smaller firms to process their applications."
In the UAE, industry watchers are cautiously optimistic about new immigration programmes providing much needed impetus to the sector. In fact, David Regueiro, COO, RIF Trust, is of the view that more countries could create or update their existing programmes to attract more foreign direct investment and stimulate their economy.
“The Caribbean and EU countries, which have managed to contain the spread of the virus and have stable healthcare systems, will be in greater demand for second citizenship and residency by investment,” says Regueiro. “Meanwhile, smart investors will choose the larger global advisories with local expertise over smaller firms to process their applications.”
Saadiya Saadat, Managing Director, Secondpass Global shares Regueiro’s view about new programmes, while also adding that there will be rationalising within the existing CBI programmes. “We are already seeing the changes to the Caribbean programmes, while Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria are reviewing their programmes as well,” says Saadat. “In the South Pacific and elsewhere in the world at least three new CBI programmes are under review. Clients too are getting educated on the CBI industry and are ready to invest in a post-Covid scenario to truly become global citizens.”
UK-based second citizenship by investment consultants Savory and Partners, which also operates out of the UAE through its office in Dubai, offers a warning to prospective CBI applicants to be cautious of new programmes being launched by various countries and advocate a wait-and-watch policy until the initial niggles in these programmes are weeded out. “In 2020 we foresee the launch of at least one or two new CBI programmes, and we will continue to hear more of newcomers Turkey, Vanuatu and Montenegro,” says Jeremy Savory, Founder and CEO, Savory and Partners, in an exclusive email interview with GN Focus. “However, as often happens when a shiny new programme launches, it’s the more experienced CBI firms that advise their clients not to rush in until any kinks in the application process, any expected price revisions or any changes in government or policy have been satisfactorily addressed.”
In Europe, we will be watching how the impact of Covid-19 will play out on the residency programmes of Portugal, Greece, Spain, Malta, Cyprus and Ireland. Likewise, Brexit will bring interesting changes to the UK’s application criteria
Savory is looking at a similar wait-and-watch policy for several programmes. “In Europe, we will be watching how the impact of Covid-19 will play out on the residency programmes of Portugal, Greece, Spain, Malta, Cyprus and Ireland. Likewise, Brexit will bring interesting changes to the UK’s application criteria.
“With the Moldova programme shutting down and Malta’s recent price increases, the countries that have had the longer track records will continue to attract the lion’s share of the region’s investor immigrant market. So the Caribbean CBI nations, namely St Kitts and Nevis and Dominica, will continue to appeal to investors, but Grenada’s E2 benefits and visa-free access to China and St Lucia’s new government bond offer will attract investors with more specific requirements.”