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Shifting Demand from Citizenship by Investment to Residency by Investment

For decades demand for an alternative passport through participation in citizenship by investment (CBI) programs has been popular among families looking for the privilege of visa-free travel to various destinations. However, restrictions on mobility due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic have shifted much of the demand from CBI to demand for residency by investment (RBI). Priorities have changed as families are no longer solely looking for a passport with travel benefits, but are looking to migrate to countries which also provide economic and political stability and most importantly a quality healthcare system.

The pandemic has affected the way families are planning for the future of their children. In the post-pandemic world, families seek long-term solutions rather than short-term solutions provided by the CBI programs. Alternative citizenship is no longer solely desired for the need for mobility and tax optimization, but rather for access to better healthcare, access to quality education, and lifelong settlement in a country with economic and political stability. Therefore, RBI programs, such as that of the United States, are now more popular as compared to CBI programs of the Caribbean nations.

With a robust economy and a democratic government, the United States has for decades been an ideal country for immigration for foreign nationals seeking security. The EB-5 Immigrant Investor program provides a fast track option through which foreign nationals can obtain U.S. residency and Green Cards for themselves and their qualifying family members – including spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 – through an investment of $500,000 in a new commercial enterprise in the United States. Many families especially out of the Middle East are choosing to invest in the future of their children and generations after them by making an investment in the U.S. economy via the EB-5 program.

When the price of the EB-5 program was reduced to $500,000 in June 2021, we witnessed a huge surge in the number of applications as families from the Middle East and emerging markets rushed to file for their Green Cards,” says Shai Zamanian, Legal Director of The American Legal Center, the leading EB-5 specialists in Dubai and the Middle East. “We continue to see pent up demand for the EB-5 program as immigration to the United States – the number one nation in the world with the strongest economy – becomes more desirable,” says Zamanian.

Visa-free travel is no longer a priority, especially given the border closures brought on by the pandemic, which closed the doors of travel to everyone despite citizenship. Families are now more focused on long-term planning and more robust rights as compared to mobility, such as a right to quality healthcare. Government responses to the pandemic have played a great role in where people choose to migrate. Countries such as the United States, where the government is greatly active in addressing the needs of its people, are more attractive to future immigrants. For example, the United States government recently announced the procurement of more than 100 million additional Covid-19 tests as part of its plan to distribute 500 million free at-home tests across its nation. Furthermore, Covid-19 vaccinations are widely available to its population. 

The pandemic has changed the landscape of investment migration. Residency by investment programs such as the EB-5 program of the United States are becoming more popular compared to citizenship by investment programs of smaller island nations which do not provide much in the way of future stability and security for its applicants,” says Zamanian.


Also published on Medium.

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