More at­trac­tive

Hong Kong Tatler - - Life -

“In­vest­ment mi­gra­tion has never been so pop­u­lar,” says François Man­dev­ille, the founder and man­ag­ing part­ner of Hong Kong­based Man­dev­ille & As­so­ciates, a con­sul­tancy spe­cial­is­ing in busi­ness im­mi­gra­tion that has helped 10,000 fam­i­lies re­set­tle in North Amer­ica since 1995. “High-net-worth in­di­vid­u­als—par­tic­u­larly from China, but also from the Middle East and Rus­sia—more than ever be­fore are look­ing for mo­bil­ity in this in­creas­ingly glob­alised world,” says Man­dev­ille. “In­vest­ment im­mi­gra­tion is seen as an ef­fi­cient way to pro­vide glob­alised education for their chil­dren, to im­prove their qual­ity of life and, in a cer­tain way, to in­ter­na­tion­alise the ac­tiv­i­ties of their com­pa­nies.”

It’s not just pri­vate-sec­tor com­pa­nies work­ing with wealthy clients who have seen this in­crease in the num­ber of peo­ple buy­ing se­cond pass­ports; in­ter­na­tional re­search in­sti­tutes have also spot­ted the trend. “Many more peo­ple seek an ad­di­tional cit­i­zen­ship— in most in­stances, they don’t have to give up their cur­rent cit­i­zen­ship—ev­ery year,” says Demetrios Pa­pademetriou, founder of the Mi­gra­tion Pol­icy In­sti­tute, a US think tank. “This is a func­tion of two trends. First, the ranks of very wealthy fam­i­lies have been grow­ing at very rapid rates and this will con­tinue for the fore­see­able fu­ture,” says Pa­pademetriou. “And as peo­ple be­come wealth­ier, their need for pur­chas­ing an ‘in­sur­ance’ pol­icy (this is an im­por­tant way of think­ing about in­vestor visas) against chang­ing cir­cum­stances at home—es­pe­cially political up­heaval, etcetera—rises ac­cord­ingly.”

Front Run­ners

Main­land China has emerged as a ma­jor growth mar­ket for out­go­ing in­vestor mi­gra­tion thanks to the coun­try’s eco­nomic boom, which has minted count­less mil­lion­aires with a taste for the in­ter­na­tional life. “Re­cent sur­veys in­di­cate that nearly 47 per cent of wealthy Chi­nese are plan­ning to mi­grate to an­other coun­try in the near fu­ture,” says Man­dev­ille. “We be­lieve that this in­dus­try will keep on grow­ing dur­ing the next 10 years.”

For now, the most pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions for in­vest­ment mi­gra­tion re­main the same as they have for a long time: the US, Canada, the UK and Aus­tralia. But the in­dus­try is see­ing changes as th­ese es­tab­lished front run­ners are forced to come to terms with the in­crease in de­mand and as new des­ti­na­tions bring their own com­pet­ing of­fer­ings to the mar­ket.

Canada—for many years high on wish lists thanks to its Im­mi­grant In­vestor Pro­gramme— ef­fec­tively closed the door in 2014 when it can­celled the back­log and in­tro­duced far more strict re­quire­ments for fu­ture ap­pli­cants. “But Canada as a desti­na­tion for im­mi­grant in­vestors has not dropped in pop­u­lar­ity, since the prov­ince of Que­bec is run­ning its own pro­gramme, which has proven to at­tract thou­sands of ap­pli­cants,” ex­plains Man­dev­ille. The wealthy still send their chil­dren to coun­tries they be­lieve of­fer the best education, says Man­dev­ille, but the op­tions for which coun­tries the par­ents call home are now more di­verse. “Five years ago, im­mi­grant in­vestors’ main mo­ti­va­tions were education of their chil­dren and qual­i­tyof-life im­prove­ment. The US, Canada, Aus­tralia and the UK were the best op­tions to reach those goals. In re­cent years, how­ever, de­lays and in­creased se­lec­tion re­quire­ments made other coun­tries with quicker pro­cess­ing and sim­pler con­di­tions more at­trac­tive for im­mi­grant in­vestors.” In­vestors can make things hap­pen quickly—£10 mil­lion buys en­try to the UK fast-track scheme; A$15 mil­lion is the price for Aus­tralia’s pre­mium in­vestor pro­gramme; and Malta’s In­di­vid­ual In­vestor Pro­gramme is avail­able for a do­na­tion of ¤650,000.

At the other end of the bud­get spec­trum, cit­i­zen­ship can be bought for a US$100,000 do­na­tion or US$200,000 real es­tate pur­chase on the Caribbean is­land of Do­minica; an in­vest­ment as low as US$94,000 in Latvia; and a US$45,000 in­vest­ment in the Co­moros. Among other pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tions are St Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean, Cyprus and Por­tu­gal, whose Golden Res­i­dence Per­mit Pro­gramme is no doubt pop­u­lar with jet­set­ters, as it only re­quires in­vestors to stay in Por­tu­gal for a min­i­mum pe­riod of seven days in the first year and 14 days in sub­se­quent years.

Ex­perts pre­dict a decade-long surge in peo­ple join­ing the ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of News Corp and the man who played Car­di­nal Fang in the Span­ish In­qui­si­tion sketch. Cer­tainly, it’s a trend worth watch­ing.


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