By Salman Siddiqui
The global RCBI industry is one of those industries that not only survived but also thrived during the pandemic following innovations with new technologies and products tailored to the needs of HNWIs, digital nomads and global citizens.
Many RCBI industry professionals are hopeful about the future, especially in terms of revenue and growth in the post pandemic world.
Japanese immigration professional Masahito Nakai, managing partner at Nakai Immigration Services LPC, said the future of the global RCBI market could “very much depend on how well the countries that get such investments can control COVID-19.”
CARIBBEAN NATIONS EXPECT HIGHER GROWTH IN 2022
Cayman Islands immigration consultant Daniel Altneu, managing associate at Bedell Cristin, expects an increased number of high net worth individuals to continue seeking multiple residences in the coming year.
Globally, he predicts “a sustained increase in the number of HNW and UHNW individuals and families placing far greater emphasis on lifestyle choices and obtaining an alternative right of residence (and in some cases citizenship) in places that are ever more internationally sophisticated and connected such as the Cayman Islands.”
Altneu said to watch out especially for children of UHNWIs who are keen to gain multiple residencies abroad via investment. There is “a continued shift towards wealthy families with young children acquiring Certificates of Permanent Residence and a greater emergence of younger applicants who have generated their wealth from non-traditional asset classes,” he said.
He also pointed out a positive move for the future of the residency by investment program in Cayman Islands.
“I was delighted when our government confirmed an extension to our Global Citizen Concierge Program which has provided a wonderful experience for many of my clients and a period of up to 2 years for them to make important decisions about applying for Extended or Permanent Residence but in a relaxed and informed manner,” he said.
Antigua & Barbuda
Antigua & Barbuda CBI agent Kaline Kennard, managing partner at Citizens International, said she expects the trend of doing video consultations with global clients to continue in 2022 and predicts that niche businesses would do well in the RCBI industry.
“In general, I think we can expect more growth for businesses that are located in the country of application and are ‘niche’ experts,” Kaline said. “It’s our experience that clients like to deal with a well-established boutique firm versus someone trying to do it all.”
The pandemic has also changed the habits of how investors do business and submit applications.
“The explosion in video consultations, which has mostly been driven by Covid, has increased the comfort level clients have dealing with someone online for an investment in the hundreds of thousands of dollars or even on the millions if they’re investing in property,” Kennard said.
The RCBI industry is experiencing growth in the wake of Covid.
“Covid is also partially responsible for the huge increase in awareness internationally of residency and citizenship pathways, especially in North America and Europe where many people did not necessarily appreciate the critical value of having more than one passport before,” she said. “We are expecting our busiest year to date in 2022.”
Kennard also said that more and more clients in the Caribbean are investing in property as opposed to using government donations to acquire permanent residencies and citizenship – a trend that might continue in 2022.
“I think in the Caribbean, especially in Antigua & Barbuda and St Kitts & Nevis, we will continue to see the majority of our clients invest in property versus making a government donation,” she said. “The property markets are hot right now, especially in Antigua and there is increased awareness globally that the region is a crossroads for the international elite. Five years ago, 20% or less of our clients were investing in property as a basis for their citizenship applications. In 2021, 78% of our clients based their citizenship application on a property investment.”
CANADA REMAINS ATTRACTIVE TO INVESTORS
“As we have to assume COVID restrictions would be there for a long while, and as we have to assume there will still be on and off restrictions for foreign travelers, getting PR is by far the best solution for easy and unlimited access to Canada so we will continue to assist our clients, one family at a time, in their process towards getting PR in Canada,” he added.
The long processing times for residency applications have launched a new trend.
“Processing times to get PR will continue to be a challenge, however on the bright side the possibility to come and wait for one's PR in Canada should be the new trend,” Tétrault said.
WHAT WILL HAPPEN WITH RCBI PROGRAMS IN EUROPE IN 2022?
Bulgarian immigration consultant Alexander Dobrinov, managing director at Citizenship and Investment Ltd., is hoping that 2022 would pull greater numbers of foreign investors to Bulgaria.
“I believe the most important is to have predictable and stable legislation and more support from the Bulgarian government,” he said. “Bulgaria is a country with low population density and the legislators should take that into account when they shape the RCBI laws. On top of that, the economic boom in Bulgaria in the last 5-10 years has resulted in lack of human resources and almost zero unemployment rate. All this may allow us to integrate far larger amount of foreigners than we are currently accepting,” he said.
The RCBI programs in Bulgaria might become pricier in 2022.
“I believe the overall price of the RCBI programs will further increase, in line with the generous monetary policies of the big central banks. At the same time, the available options will further decrease as there is general worldwide resistance against ‘investment immigrants’,” Dobrinov said.
Bulgaria may face further EU scrutiny in 2022, even though the Bulgarian government remains in favor of its CBI program.
“In Bulgaria, we have just got a new business-oriented government. I believe that in general it will support the RCBI initiatives, although the EU Commission may pare some of the enthusiasm. All in all, after the Cypriot CBI program was cancelled in late 2020, the Bulgarian Golden Passport alternative became extremely popular among those who weren’t fast enough in Cyprus,” he said.
Italian immigration attorney Alessia Ajelli, who is associated with the LCA Studio Legale, said she too expects an increase in interest in global RCBI programs in 2022.
“Since the world is slowly rebooting after the pandemic and countries, including Italy, are trying to get back on track, we expect an increased interest in foreign investments and residency/citizenship applications,” Ajelli said.
She said she hopes Italy gets to its pre-pandemic level of interest from clients in 2022.
“(My hope is) to be able to guide foreign investors to navigate a difficult scenario and help them find solutions suitable for their needs, with the hope of getting back to the pre-pandemic level of movement and interest towards Italy,” she added.
French immigration consultant Clarisse Delaitre, an associate at Majorelle Avocats, said she expects the process of hiring skilled foreigners from an expanded list of occupations to become easier in France in the future.
“In France, we should expect a modernization of labor immigration policy intended to make it easier for employers in need of labor to recruit foreigners and for investors to come and settle in France,” she said. “In 2021, the steps that an employer must take to obtain a work permit when he wants to hire a foreigner have been dematerialized and simplified.”
The list of ‘shortage occupations’ – from which the employer does not need to prove that he has not been able to fill the position in France – has also been updated.
“An April decree contains new lists of occupations by region, including bodybuilder, butcher, surveyor, construction engineer, plumber and insurance technician,” she said. “We should be able to see and to quantify the effects of the reform in 2022, if the current context of the health crisis does not disrupt too much the movement of people and the economy.”
The "talent passport" residence permit program for qualified foreigners is expected to stay in place even when a "points" system for selection gets implemented.
“Besides, France is willing to improve the reception of international students notably in facilitating the granting of residence permits to students at the end of their course,” Delaitre said.
TURKEY EXPECTS RCBI BOOM TO CONTINUE NEXT YEAR
“The option with a real estate investment of $250,000 is still very attractive and this year the real estate property sales to foreigners is about to exceed 50,000, and it is expected that the number may go upwards of 75,000 with the depreciating Turkish lira. So, our expectations are high for 2022,” Mavioglu said. “We expect a growth of business not less than 15% for 2022.”
PANAMA TO FOCUS ON ATTRACTING WEALTHY FOREIGNERS
Panama investor visa representative Marcos Kraemer, managing partner at Kraemer & Kraemer, said he expects the movement of global citizens to continue to grow in 2022 “due to investment diversification, tax planning, asset protection and fear related to the pandemic situation.”
He said retirees and wealthy foreigners will continue to have bright prospects in Panama.
“Panama’s current immigration policy will focus on retirees and high earning expats, while enforcing controls against illegal immigration or expats with convictions,” he said.
VANUATU HOPES REAL ESTATE OPTION WILL GO BIG IN 2022
Vanuatu CBI agent James Elcocke-Harris, who officially represents the Vanuatu Development Support Program and is also the managing director of the Vanuatu Information Centre, said he anticipates the creation of new RCBI programs around the world in 2022.
“I see 2022 as a continuation of the current trend of expansion in the RCBI market – both in terms of the geographical spread of RCBI applicants, and likely the emergence of additional programs as governments seek novel income streams to offset Covid-19-related economic damage,” he said.
Vanuatu’s Real Estate Option could also get further refined in 2022.
“In 2022, I believe Vanuatu will become proactive in improving the structure, management and distribution of the current Citizenship Program with an eye to improving the Program reputation and protecting this valuable source of income for the country,” Elcocke-Harris said. “The Real Estate Option – which has been launched in principle but requires further refinement and clarification – will establish itself as an important driver of economic activity in Vanuatu.”
He added: “…Expo 2020 Dubai has generated both awareness of and interest in Vanuatu’s CBI Program which I believe will feed a surge in interest during 2022.”
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