It may seem strange, because the first and biggest consequences of the coronavirus crisis were the complete closure of borders and the international movement of people, but this pandemic will most likely improve the possibilities of migrating through investment.

Because yes, it is true that restrictions and blockages to migration and travel have been a regular occurrence. But at the same time, so have economic decline and falling incomes around the globe. Likewise, the need of the wealthiest sector of the world's population for a stable health and financial system has increased. And for both reasons, the need for more investment in rich countries and the need for migrants with capital in search of stable systems, it is likely that this type of migration through the so-called Golden Visas will only increase in the coming years.

Golden visa processes have been gaining in reputation and popularity over the past few years. Residency or alternative citizenship offers many benefits in terms of security, opportunity and diversification, and HNWIs (high-net-worth-individuals) have been taking advantage of them during the last decade, at least, until 2020, when the irruption of COVID-19 forced a dry brake on applications and, above all, on the granting of this type of residence permits.

See: Golden visas: what are they, how can they be obtained and what can they offer?

And yet, while most travel restrictions are likely to remain in place for some time, golden visa processes are set to skyrocket. Here are some of the reasons why we believe this is the case.

Reasons for the increase in the number of citizenship and/or residency-by-investment processes

  • The citizens of certain countries have seen the value of their passports devalued due to the mismanagement of the crisis by their States. A clear example of this is US travelers, who faced unprecedented restrictions in Europe. As a result, many of them have accessed investment migration programs to the Old Continent, as did Eric Schmidt, ex-CEO of Google, who obtained Cypriot citizenship for himself and his family.
  • Moreover, the havoc the pandemic has wreaked on tourism-dependent economies has prompted several Caribbean states to introduce new citizenship-by-investment options, or to ease existing requirements. Today, HNWIs are looking for safe harbors, and have shown great interest in the Caribbean region. For example, St. Lucia has launched the region's first electronic payment and processing platform for this type of process, allowing applications to be completed online.
  • Some European countries, such as Estonia and Norway, have created programs to attract telemigrants. These - usually young people, with much less economic, work (they work online) or family ties to their homeland and eager to try out new experiences - are offered a series of advantages for residing in the country in question.
  • And finally, there are the health tourism programs offered by countries such as Thailand and the member states of the United Arab Emirates, a sector that is set to explode in the coming years.

Conclusion

In the coming years, it is inevitable that countries will begin to introduce new residency and citizenship-by-investment programs and other such solutions to alleviate the financial hardship caused by the pandemic. Such programs have a proven ability to diversify revenues and create a positive economic impact in host nations, and few will be reluctant to implement them.

For now, while it seems a bit early to see how the pandemic will alter the flows of HNWIs around the world, there already appears to be some trend. Countries such as China, France, India, Russia and Turkey are experiencing the most significant outflows of HNWIs; while Australia, Switzerland and the US remain the preferred destinations for golden visa applicants.

However, it seems that there is a group of countries that, due to their quality of life or climate, seem to be becoming the next favorite destinations for this type of investors: Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain and New Zealand. These are countries that, perhaps, in a decade, will be synonymous with the coming boom in investment migration.

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