By Anthony DeMarco
Vietnam is a country on the move with an economy that’s growing at a rapid pace. In July, while many countries are staring at recession, the government of the Southeast Asian nation upped its expected GDP growth to 7%, surpassing analysts’ predictions and reaffirming its standing as Southeast Asia’s fastest growing economy.
This robust economy has created more than 72,000 millionaires as of 2021, according to Frank Knight, nearly double the number in 2016. In the same year, the country created 1,234 ultra-high net worth individuals (those worth more than $30 million), which is expected to grow to 1,551 in 2026. Even more impressive is the increase in the number of billionaires. Forbes named the country’s first billionaire ten years ago. This year the Forbes list of the world’s wealthiest persons has seven billionaires from Vietnam.
High net worth individuals rising in Vietnam
The wealthy in Vietnam like those of any country want to use their newfound earnings to further their freedom of movement throughout the world, improve their standard of living for themselves and their families, and make sure their loved ones are safe.
“More specific reason often cited is to better their children’s education or seek greater employment opportunities that are more readily accessed through a second passport,” said Troy Griffiths, deputy managing director of Savills Vietnam, whose global network provides residences abroad for wealthy Vietnamese.
Popular migration programs for Vietnamese investors
The Australia Business Innovation and Investment Program (BIIP) has emerged as one of the strongest investor migration programs for UHNWI Vietnamese along with the United States’ EB-5 program.
Immigration officials say Australia has several advantages ranging from its location to the relative ease of being able to gain residency and citizenship, and the wealth investors can obtain through the real estate market.
The Australian government not only confirms this trend but shows a sharp increase in applications. In 2020-21, the Australian Department of Home Affairs granted 1,144 BIIP Visas, a near three-fold increase from 2017-18. These visas account for approximately 14% of all permanent residencies granted to Vietnam migrants by the Australian government.
Why Australia is popular with Vietnamese investors
Australian immigration lawyer Venkateswaran Krishnan says the strength of the Australian dollar and the country’s policy of attracting businesses and students from abroad have made it a popular migration destination for Vietnamese citizens.
“The Australian Dollar has maintained at steady conversion rates with Vietnamese Dong and steady AUD/USD rates, has been attractive to the Vietnamese investors,” Krishnan said. “When there is even small shift in currency value, due to conversion, it fetches more Vietnamese Dong.
Real estate is a main attraction for Vietnam investors as well. The country’s policy of allowing foreign students to stay in the country for an additional two to three years after graduating creates demand for affordable rental and commercial properties, bringing opportunities to investors.
“Australian property is one of the fastest earning sectors. The liquidity of the property will rise rapidly when the AUD returns better Vietnamese Dong, thereby creating great profit for Vietnamese investors,” he says.
“With Australia’s rental property value constantly increasing, several Vietnamese investors have decided to invest in property in Australia,” he said. “Investors opt to buy houses which are priced lower than the average city home. They could be rented for few years, and afterward appreciates at a better rate, and are easy for further lease or sell.”
He added, “Another great benefit to investors available in Australia which is not available in Vietnam is that owners can deduct maintenance and annual depreciation from their income tax from renting which is a tax benefit.”
Australian migration agent Lisa De Leon says Australia’s relative closeness to Vietnam in geography and time zones makes it easy for entrepreneurs to maintain businesses in both countries.
“This enables Vietnamese business owners to continue to operate their businesses overseas even though they may be living in Australia,” De Leon said. “Communication between staff at different locations is not difficult and it's a short flight back to their country if they need to visit their business operations in Vietnam.”
The EB-5 program keeps attracting Vietnamese investors
Meanwhile in the U.S., high-net-worth Vietnamese citizens ranked as the second largest EB-5 investor market in the world in 2021, according to the U.S. Department of State. Vietnamese investors made up 24.8% of EB-5 visas issued.
“The EB-5 program has been particularly popular in Vietnam because many Vietnamese realize the U.S. presents excellent opportunities for business, education and quality of life,” said Bernard Wolfsdorf, former president of the American Immigration Lawyers Association. “For these reasons Vietnam was the number one country for EB-5 visa applicants for many years and the program continues to be extremely popular as many successful Vietnamese have family and friends who successfully immigrated to the U.S. using the EB-5 investors visa.”
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