The realisation of the implications of junk status brought about by the successive credit downgrades by the S&P and Fitch ratings agencies following recent political shifts, has boosted the demand for second residency and citizenship-by-investment options.
While most of South Africa’s wealthy citizens do not want to leave the country, and prefer to stay, Nadia Read Thaele of LIO Global, a specialist firm in residence and citizenship-by-investment planning, said that clients are now looking for a Plan B option, and fast.
In the last two to three years, the options have grown for the wealthy who can now gain access to major passports to the European Union by way of investment, without emigrating, said Read Thaele.
Mauritius and Seychelles are no longer the only options, Read Thaele stressed.
For EUR300,000, you can access the European Union via residency programs in Malta or Cyprus. An investment of EUR 2 million, can give you fast tracked citizenship in four months in the case of Cyprus and fourteen months for Malta (from EUR 1 million).
A Maltese passport currently ranks among the top 10 most powerful passports in the world, according to the Henley Visa Restrictions Index.
Residency options also extend to other attractive destinations such as Portugal, Greece, and Spain. There are options too of getting a foothold in other sought-after areas such as the UK, although these cost considerably more and require physical immigration, LIO Global said.
Alternatively, you could choose somewhere in the Caribbean with Antigua and Barbuda offering citizenship in 4-6 months at an investment from US$400,000 into real estate (offering yields and a return).
Your new passport will give you global visa-free travel to over 130 countries including the Euro/Schengen Zone and the UK, said Read Thaele.
For the same value, you can also look at Saint Kitts and Nevis that offers direct citizenship with no prior residency period required and with similar visa-free travel benefits.
Grenada is another attractive option, the immigration expert said. The required investment starts at just US$200,000 with fast-tracked citizenship in just two months.
The passport offers visa-free travel to the Schengen countries, the UK and many other Commonwealth countries.
With the current rand allowance, South Africans are able to take out R10 million annually (R20 million for couples) plus their R1 million discretionary allowance.