By Anayat Durrani
More than two years after the pandemic, global migration continues to be impacted by a growing feeling of uncertainty about the future. The current conditions have led many individuals to redefine their home base with many seeking out better locales based on health, education and leisure for their families.
“During the last couple of years, and certainly after the pandemic broke out, the demand for residence permits by investment increased even for the holders of some of the most powerful passports in the world,” says Mary Tsiganou, Synergia S.A. - Investment Consulting in Greece.
She says many Americans have begun obtaining residences in Europe and are in general seeking relocation opportunities. She noted that the investment migration industry is already experiencing great changes. More of these changes will be felt into 2023.
“The pandemic restrictions that many states have imposed, political unrest and climate change have marked these new trends,” says Tsiganou.
As a result, a growing number of investors worldwide, she says, are in search of stability, security and a high standard of living.
What can be expected in the RCBI industry?
Marko Issever, CEO, America EB5 Visa, LLC says many wealthy investors no longer are satisfied with having only one passport and says they want to live and work in geographies with better economic opportunities.
“That is why the United States, through the EB-5 option, is still one of the most desirable destinations,” says Issever. “That said, investors are considering other options due to the recent backlog in processing all phases of the applications, the initial I-526 approval, the subsequent conditional green card approval, and finally, the permanent green card approval.”
Issever says many are choosing Canada and countries that are part of the EU like Spain, Portugal, Malta, and Greece, due to their relatively shorter time to obtain residency and more favorable tax treatment.
“However, with the passage of the new Reform and Integrity Act of 2022 and the subsequent series of lawsuits set to adjudicate in favor of the EB-5 industry, we expect processing times to improve substantially and trigger a renewed interest in the program in the coming months,” says Issever.
The future of the global migration industry
Interesting trends are emerging in the global migration market heading into 2023.
“It's no secret that the European Parliament recently adopted a resolution to phase out RCBI in Europe. This looks like a likely trend leading to the prospect that RCBI may have a shelf life,” says Andy J. Semotiuk, Pace Law Firm.
Semotiuk says he believes big countries, like the U.S., Germany and France for example, have concerns about how rich individuals with dubious backgrounds can enter their countries easily on passports paid for with relatively minor amounts.
“This should not negatively affect those who have such passports, however. I cannot imagine such individuals being treated differently than before any such change is brought about. So as far as current investors are concerned, I see no reason to hold off at the moment,” says Semotiuk.
With the world slowly emerging out of the pandemic, Tsiganou believes the economy and global workforce are about to take their turn.
“After two plus years of adapting to a work-from-home lifestyle, we are seeing a surge in movements from global companies becoming more remote. From the introduction of advanced digital technologies to ditching the 9-5 work culture, the remote working trend is really catching on,” says Tsiganou.
She noted that business-leisure travelers make up a subset of digital nomads, living and working abroad for longer than a typical holiday would be, without taking up permanent residence. She says this group typically spends weeks or months overseas before returning home, while other nomads spend years on the road.
“Employees’ growing enthusiasm for business-leisure travel is slowly being met with policy momentum. Governments are trying to work out visa and tax regulations while businesses fret about compliance and corporate culture,” says Tsiganou.
New RCBI trends in Europe
She says there are also new trends in Europe RBI and CBI Programs.
“In the past, the EU has stressed that RBI schemes are jeopardizing security, transparency and undermining European values,” says Tsiganou. “In the light of these developments, we would expect that new kinds of visas would include stricter procedures and requirements for the applicants, for example minimum stay requirements for its holders.”
Semotiuk says he believes the global migration marketplace appears to be moving in the direction of more reliance on the internet and portals in processing applications, which he calls healthy and a positive sign with increased efficiency a likely effect.
“In some instances, however, countries refuse to allow immigrants to use lawyers in filing information through portals,” says Semotiuk. “This seems to be based on the mistaken supposition that lawyers are an unnecessary nuisance in the immigration process when in fact, the exact opposite is the reality—lawyers can help clients speed up their cases by filing applications properly.”
He says he hopes a new sense of how the process should work in which lawyers and immigration advisors are recognized as essential to the effective flow of the process, will become more apparent.
The EB-5 visa route to United States, using the E-2 bridge
Issever says citizens of countries who enjoy the E-2 treaty with the United States have opted to use the E-2 method, since processing times for E-2 visa is less than that for EB-5 and that there is no minimum residency requirement, the tax liability is only on US attributable income, and the source of funds analysis and scrutiny is much less.
“Many US in-bound minded investors that are not citizens of countries who enjoy the E-2 treaty with the United States and cannot afford the cost of EB-5 opted to acquire a second passport from countries such as Grenada, Turkey, or Montenegro,” says Issever.
He says these investors are from Brazil, Nigeria, South Africa, Russia, Iran, Gulf states, India, Vietnam, and China, among other countries.
“Some choose these second passports not because they have an immigration objective to these countries or are interested in using them to become eligible for the E-2 visa. Many of them are attracted to the opportunity of visa-free travel,” says Issever.
For example, he says Grenada citizenship offers visa-free travel or visa-on-arrival to over 140 countries, and Turkey citizenship offers visa-free travel to 110 countries. He says Turkey citizenship has become a popular passport among citizens from countries in the Middle East and the Gulf states.
“We are also seeing a resurgence of work visas issued to inventors of innovative ideas. For example, Canada has a startup visa,” says Issever. “They do not need to secure financial investment from a business incubator. Instead, a Canadian business incubator program must accept them.”
In the U.S., a startup visa was approved under the Obama administration but canceled by the Trump administration before launch. Under the Biden administration this visa type is not being pursued, he says, but many hope the U.S. will at some point have an entrepreneurial or innovator visa. Issever also noted that this summer, the UK launched a visa route for graduates of highly ranked non-UK universities.
These changes and more are expected to shape the global migration market far into 2023.
“The landscape of immigration is changing,” says Issever. “There are more and more destination choices, depending on the applicants' objectives, net worth, scholarship, and proven academic or professional excellence.”
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