By Anayat Durrani
With a population of more than 1.3 billion, India is an increasingly active group in the investment migration market. Indian nationals make up a large share of EB-5 investor visa market and second passports and residencies invested in worldwide.
“Indian investors are sophisticated and understand the risks and benefits of applying for investment-based immigration programs,” says Farah S. Abbas, principal attorney, Abbas Law Firm.
Affluent Indians are no longer interested in merely investing in real estate only, but rather they are interested in moving abroad for education and better opportunities. They seek locations that provide an economic advantage and offer a stable environment.
“My Indian clients are often entrepreneurs, professionals, or high-level executives that already know lots of family or friends who have gone through the U.S. immigration process. They do their homework and take the filing process seriously,” says Abbas.
Indian nationals are increasingly seeking global mobility options
The Indian Passport has dropped to the 87th rank this year, and more Indians are seeking passports that provide greater mobility, work and business opportunities. Indians are moving abroad and making large investments in exchange for citizenship or residency in other countries. Many seek a second residency or citizenship for the ease of visa-free travel and for tax purposes.
Poorvi Chothani, managing partner of LawQuest noted a 2021 Knight Frank report that says the number of HNIs in India is set to grow by 75% in the next five years.
“Migration agents will find that India is a hot market and hundreds if not thousands of these HNI, Indian nationals, aspire for permanent residence rights or citizenship in other countries,” says Chothani.
India ranks third in the number of billionaires in the world after the U.S. and China, according to the most recent Knight Frank's Wealth Report. Bangalore saw the highest growth in the number of UHNWIs at 17.1 percent, followed by Delhi and Mumbai, the latter of which has the most UHNWIs. The publication expects the number of UHNWIs population in India to increase by 39 percent between 2021 – 2026.
“We’re finding India to be one of the strongest markets following the reauthorization of the EB-5 Regional Center program, and settlement of related cases with USCIS,” says Matt Gordan, Chief Executive Officer and founder of E3iG. “The pandemic really focused people on their priorities in life.”
Indians continue to apply to United States’ EB-5 visa program
Gordon says the EB-5 program has several categories of visa set-asides and that investors are understanding that right now, the category is current, but he says that will not last forever.
“Those who start their process now, will have materially faster outcomes than those who wait. We have several clients who won expedited treatment and received their green card petition approvals in under 1 year,” says Gordon.
Vivek Tandon, CEO of EB5 BRICS, LLC says India “is poised to be the biggest EB-5 market especially if you look at the growing number of students going to the US for higher studies. Indian investors are parents of F-1 visa students, students on OPT and H-1B professionals.”
Tandon says Indians understand that “EB-5 is the only long-term solution beyond F-1, OPT and H-1B so they are quite motivated about EB-5.” He says while there is retrogression for EB-5, it is “only for 5th unreserved category for those who filed between Nov. 9, 2019 and March 15, 2022.”
Indian investors are exploring European Golden Visa programs
Many Indians are looking beyond the usual US and UK migration routes and vying for other countries that make migration easier and faster. Nirbhay Handa, head of India Operation at Henley & Partners, says up until a few years ago, India’s investment migration market was mainly geared toward the EB-5 program.
“Now we also see European residence-by-investment migration programs like Malta, Portugal, Greece, and other European Golden Visas gain a great deal of traction and interest,” says Handa. “As India does not allow dual citizenship most domicile Indian families opt for residence-by-investment programs.”
Handa says Indians currently residing in India that pursue the investment migration route comprise business professionals, corporate executives, entrepreneurs and retired affluent Indians.
“The tribe of investors has grown to include professional employees who recently encashed their ESOPS,” says Chothani. “Even the children in very large business families aspire for residential rights abroad and the families support this by making huge investments on their behalf.”
Many affluent families are increasingly viewing investment migration as their Plan B amid any worldwide economic or political crises, and at the same time diversify their wealth and protect their assets in another location.
The top 5 most sought-after investment programs by Indians for residency are the Portugal Golden Residence Permit Program, Australian Global Talent Independent Visa, the U.S. EB-5 program, Malta Permanent Residence Program and the Greece Golden Visa Program, per Henley & Partners.
According to H&P, the most popular talent and business incorporation-based visas that remain sought after among Indian entrepreneurs, as of 2022, are Singapore, United Arab Emirates, Malta, United Kingdom and Australia. For example, Singapore is an attractive option for Indians, noted for its startup eco system of accredited investors, government support, meritocracy and a recently launched Tech Pass.
H&P, which opened an office in India in 2020, said India’s economy has witnessed a high level of wealth creation for several years, which has resulted in producing a broad and deep community of high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals.
Handa notes that Indian HNWIs “possess an appetite for, and willingness to emigrate and invest abroad.”
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