In 2020, wealthy Indians again topped the list of those making enquiries for ‘residence-by-investment’ or ‘citizenship-by-investment’ programmes. The number of enquiries rose from 2019, said a facilitating agency. Since India does not permit dual citizenship, opting for ‘citizenship by-investment’ means giving up one’s Indian passport.
The combination of Covid and political turmoil saw the US, in sixth place in 2019, shoot up to the second slot.
About 7,000 wealthy Indians left country in 2019, says report
The third, fourth and fifth spots in terms of enquiries made were taken up by Pakistanis, South Africans and Nigerians, respectively. These details were shared with TOI by Henley & Partners, a global firm engaged in residence and citizenship planning.
As per ‘Global Wealth Migration Review’, issued by New World Wealth, a wealth intelligence firm, Indians were the second largest contingent among the millionaire category to move overseas. Nearly 7,000 wealthy Indians (comprising 2% of the HNWIs) left the country during 2019. It appears that the interest is not waning.
“We saw a 62.6% increase in the number of enquiries received from Indians in 2020 as compared to 2019. The base for 2019 was over 1,500 enquiries,” Nirbhay Handa, director and head of global South Asia team, Henley & Partners, told TOI.
Investment-linked migration programmes do not come cheap, but for many, it is much more than just owning a luxury home in an exotic location. It could also mean spreading family assets across several jurisdictions or obtaining better access to a region — say European Union.
As per Henley & Partners, the top investment-linked residence and citizenship programmes that Indians enquired about in 2020 were Canada Residency, Portugal Residency, Austria Residency and Austria’s Citizenship programme, Malta Citizenship and Turkey Citizenship. Historically, US, Canada, UK and Australia have been favourites among Indians.
“Canada and Australia are key contenders, (but) the processing time for these programmes has become long and the investment amounts higher over time, so Indian HNWIs understand limitations,” says Handa.
The interests of wealthy individuals in India and NRIs differ — the latter is more inclined to opt for ‘citizenshipby-investment’ programmes. The former, with overseas business interests, typically look at European ‘residenceby-investment’ options. The Portugal Golden Residence Permit Program, which requires a minimum investment of Euro 3,50,000 in real estate, is Europe’s most popular programme. NRIs tend to opt for European citizenship programmes.
“Aside from the added benefit of better mobility (Austria’s passport, for instance, offers visa-free travel to 187 destinations), the citizenship programmes offered by Malta and Austria also provide the option of settlement anywhere in EU,” says Handa.
International finance centres like Dubai, Hong Kong and Singapore have a large population of professional NRIs. If they are unable to get permanent residency or citizenship in these countries, they keep their options open.