The best countries to buy your way into residency or citizenship

Although there is an increasing number of South Africans interested in investment migration programmes, they are not necessarily making good on their intent to leave.

Instead, these programmes provide them with a “Plan B” option as a hedge against the uncertain future of the country, according to Nigel Barnes, managing partner of Henley & Partners South Africa.

According to Barnes, instead of emigrating, South Africans are using these programmes to enjoy the benefits of greater global mobility with visa-free access to destinations worldwide – both for travel and business purposes.

“There is a growing trend towards individuals wanting to live a more mobile life where they can take advantage of opportunities internationally and make a contribution on a global level,” he said.

“The recent credit downgrades and the potential effects of junk status have wealthy South Africans seriously reviewing the available options for diversifying their personal interests and investment assets beyond the country’s borders.

“Residence- and citizenship-by-investment programmes provide wealthy and talented South Africans with the opportunity to expand their investments across borders.”

World’s top investment migration programmes

Henley and Partners recently released its rankings of the world’s top investment migration programmes.

These two indices have become the global standard to gauge and reflect the relative worth of residence and citizenship programmes around the world, by analysing a broad range of factors to produce an overall global view and ranking of the different investment migration programmes on offer.

Malta was ranked as the world’s top citizenship-by-investment programme and Portugal was ranked as the world’s top residence-by-investment programme.

There is a difference between having citizenship in a country and being a resident, noted James Bowling, CEO of immigration consultants Monarch & Co.

“By achieving permanent residency, the person is allowed to reside for as long as the validity of the residency within a country of which he or she is not a citizen,” said Bowling.

“A person with such status is known as a resident or permanent resident of that country. Resident permits are issued for migrants who meet certain criteria and its validity is time-based.”

By obtaining citizenship in another country, the investor becomes a citizen of that country which entitles them to carry that country’s passport.

“Depending on the countries involved, the investor will be able to keep their existing citizenship and passport and thus the new passport becomes their second passport. This is why these programmes are often referred to as second passport programmes,” he said.

Read: Not all economists are bleak about South Africa’s ‘junk’ economy

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The best countries to buy your way into residency or citizenship