Has Acquiring a Permanent Residency or Second Passport Become a New Commodity for Thai Citizens?
More Thai high net worth individuals acquire a permanent residency overseas or second passport.
Globalisation has created a new class of mobile citizen seeking multiple nationalities. Thailand’s economy and overseas investments has grown steadily over the last 10 years. The Thai people are recognised for their friendliness and spending power and as of 1 January2017, Thai citizens have visa-free or visa on arrival access to 71 countries and territories, ranking the Thai passport 67th in terms of travel freedom. A permanent residency (PR) or second nationality provides high net worth individuals (HNWIs) with a way to pursue business, financial and personal opportunities in geographies with political and economic stability and better overall quality of life. An additional passport can facilitate residency abroad, ease of travel and access to, and mobility of, personal assets.
Obtaining a PR or a 2nd passport has never been easier, especially with Citizenship by Investment Programs (CIPs). While there are many ways to emigrate to a foreign country, CIPs are typically the fastest and most straightforward means to a second passport for most HNWIs and their family members. The specifications of different programmes vary by country, allowing foreigners to invest in real estate projects and businesses, to purchase properties, or to donate money directly to a country’s governmental fund in exchange for citizenship and its inherent rights. On the practical front, investing in an alternative residence or citizenship, or acquiring a second passport, is seen as an instrument of financial and personal security. A growing number of HNWIs seek additional passports for asset protection, minimization of taxes and better tax planning, as well as an insurance in the event of economic and social upheaval or unstable, confiscatory political regimes. Where instability reigns, assets are at greater risk. Who would not be tempted by the right fast-track citizenship programme, which can provide a second passport that allows visa-free access to major regions and countries in the world, including stable jurisdictions such as the Schengen states, the United Kingdom, Singapore, and even China? For many, such open doors are well worth the price, and even considered a bargain. Today’s HNWIs are spoiled for choice as to where they can acquire their new residency or citizenship.
Let’s start with a brief overview of regions of interest for Thai citizens. The USA offers permanent residency through an investment in a “business at risk” currently set at USD500,000. Thailand is also an E2 country and Thai Citizens can enjoy a 2-year renewable visa to the US as long as they keep the business they created on US soil. Australia grants permanent residency with an investment starting at 1.5 mil. AUD and Canada at USD 250,000 (approx.). The UK is much more expensive at GBP 2 mil.
In Europe, Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria are three countries offering a citizenship by investment option, unlocking the concept of acquiring a European passport, and hence the right to reside, live, work and study in an EU member country, with Cyprus being the most popular option for Thai investment. Bulgaria requires 1 mil EUR into Government bonds (approx.) while Malta comes in at 1.3 mil EUR investment (including a EUR650,000 donation to the Government).
1 Property to be held a minimum number of years. In Dominica, the property can be sold via CIP again only after 5 years 2 At least 5 days during a 5-year period must be spent in the country
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