*Produced by SilverKris for HC Consultancy*
With travel restrictions continuing to pose serious business setbacks, golden visas and golden passports have become a trending subject. For entrepreneurs and high net-worth individuals, an additional passport or residency gives flexibility in these inflexible times, and for governments of various countries, especially in the European Union and the Caribbean, it’s a chance to raise capital and revive flagging economies.
Despite last year’s news around Cyprus’s once-popular programme, both demand and options for residency by investment (RIP) and citizenship by investment (CIP) programmes remain high. Greece, for example, relaunched its programme in 2020, and additional countries such as Kenya, Mauritius and Albania announced plans to explore CIP schemes. In February 2021, Portugal announced that it will be extending its programme well into 2022. And over in the United Arab Emirates, golden visas are an important incentive to promote the Gulf’s real estate market.
And with experienced business advisory firms such as Singapore’s HC Consultancy, the process can be straightforward and transparent. Here, we speak to founder Helen Campos about what exactly golden visas are, what advantages they offer and which countries are worth investigating.
What are golden visas and golden passports?
Simply put, RIP and CIP programmes allow investors and high net-worth individuals to purchase a long-term visa – usually up to five years – a permanent residency or even a passport to certain countries. In most cases, a golden passport would also entail residency permits for immediate family members as well. The applicants’ children can be enrolled in colleges and universities and spouses can live and work in the country long term.
Why would a business-owner want a golden passport?
There are many reasons – in some cases, an individual may simply desire the flexibility of an additional passport, or the chance to have a holiday home in the Caribbean, for example. In other cases, having that golden passport can make a critical improvement to operating a business.
For instance, we’ve worked with high net-worth individuals from Bangladesh who own apparel factories and work with big brands headquartered in Europe. Bangladesh is one of the world’s largest producers of apparels, but to travel to Europe, Bangladeshi nationals need a visa, which normally takes several weeks to obtain. In cases of urgent contingencies, that’s simply too long a wait. Once they acquire a passport from Ireland, Greece or Malta – to name just a few places – they would be able to travel across the European Union with ease. We also see many cases of Chinese businesspeople gaining RIP or CIP and acquiring a residence in Greece, where they can enjoy a slower pace of life.
How do you decide which country to work with?
There are many factors to consider, such as the location of your current business and the geographic scope of your entrepreneurial goals. Then there is the minimum capital investment requirement, which varies depending on the country, minimally from one million euros. The time period to attain citizenship also varies – from a few months to several years – as well as the minimum residency requirements. Many applicants may not be prepared to uproot and live in a new country for five years in order to obtain the passport. These are all factors to consider.
Does your firm specialise in any specific countries?
Here at HCCS, we have a great deal of experience in Malta, where we have established a strong network of government connections and a partnership with a local law firm as well as a consultancy firm specialising in migration and golden visas, namely Dominion Marine. They are also our alliance partner and have recently established their ASEAN headquarters in Singapore. In my experience, it’s one of the fastest programmes. It also gives you access to the rest of the European Union, and has no residency requirements, which gives flexibility to the investor – and it’s a beautiful, well-developed Mediterranean island-nation, close to Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.
How big is the required investment in Malta?
It works out to one million euros. This includes the purchase of your very own property and investments in stocks and bonds and this will not only get the applicant a visa, but their spouse, children and parents as well.
What are the advantages of engaging an advisory firm such as yours?
In addition to on-the-ground contacts and know-how in the country you are considering, we can clarify what might seem like a complicated process. We can walk you through the criteria requirements, how to invest with their local government. It involves a large sum of money, and you need a trusted partner to guide you.