By Uglobal Staff
There has been a sharp rise in the interest among American investors to seek second passports and residency outside the U.S. during the pandemic.
There was a 300% increase in Americans looking for second citizenship as a way to protect themselves, according to Nomad Capitalist, the firm behind the Nomad Passport Index. Henley & Partners reported a 192% rise in enquiries from Americans about their investment immigration options in 2020 compared to the previous year.
Many professionals in the industry have noticed the new trend.
“We are seeing something that we were not expecting,” said Tiago Gali Macedo, managing partner of the Portuguese law firm NEXT/Gali Macedo & Associados, during a Uglobal panel about the topic. “If you had asked me 5 years ago if you would have been invaded by U.S. citizens, I would have said no...[but] today U.S. is the fourth biggest in terms of investors and immigrants [in Portugal].”
The main motivation for Americans seeking residency/citizenship in Portugal is to get a Schengen passport, which allows them visa free travel throughout Europe, he said.
Christopher Willis, Director Latitude Consultancy Ltd., said the pandemic era has taught Americans the importance of having a non-traditional insurance policy -- the RCBI industry.
“A lot of the conversations I'm having is educating people and [making Americans] realize that these programs exist and what the benefits are,” he said. “Now it is not about what cars you drive or what watch is on your wrist but what passport is in your pocket. It is becoming part of that conversation among HNWI people.”
Beatrice Gatti, head of the government advisory practice at CS Global Partners, said she too had noticed the impact the pandemic era has had on Americans seeking investment immigration options abroad, noting the fact that the Caribbean destinations like St. Kitts and Dominica have been attractive destinations for Americans.
“If you become a citizen of St. Kitts or Dominica, you can travel to the UK [visa free], there's now that travel corridor… It is absolutely true that U.S. citizens can go to a lot of places either visa free travel or visa on travel, but some countries are tougher to get to anyway like China,” she said.
Patrick Peters, CEO of Client Referrals, said other Caribbean destinations like Antigua are also seeing an increased interest from Americans.
“If you're looking for a temporary refuge where you can live and work and not worry too much [about Covid], the Caribbean has been quite good. In Antigua, they also have technologically advanced medical facilities.”
But Peters said the increase in interest among wealthy Americans to seek alternative destinations goes back a few years. The spike in Americans coming into Canada occurred when the political shift began in the U.S. in 2016 “whereas in the decades prior we were losing Canadians to America,” he said.
Rogelio Caceres, founder & CEO of RCG Global, said that until recently, the U.S. was not even on the map of the global immigration industry as a destination from where HNWI were leaving for other places.
Caceres said the recent trend was not because the American HNWIs have been hit hard financially by the pandemic.
“Stock markets are at an all-time high, the wealthier clients are only getting wealthier, it hasn't been a doomsday scenario for them,” he said.
He noted that the big change during this COVID era is the renewed focus on remote working, allowing investors to operate from any place they like.
“The key element to capitalize is the fact that the percentage of U.S. workers returning to the office would stay low for some time even after the pandemic and this could be an opportunity for the RCBI industry.”
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