November 29, 2018

In recent years, the investment migration industry has experienced unprecedented growth, with residence-by-investment now an established feature of the global economic landscape. Thousands of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) are now seeking residency as a means to improving international mobility, tax planning, and family security while also seeking investment opportunities.

But with so many options, where do the world’s HNWIs want to reside? Dominic Volek, Managing Partner, Singapore and Head of  Southeast Asia at Henley & Partners offers a closer look at some of the most compelling residence-by-investment programmes that are generating interest among HNW families around the world.

1. Malta

Malta is a very attractive location for private residence. The island nation enjoys a stable political climate and is strategically located with excellent air links. The Malta Residence and Visa Program (MRVP) offers non-Maltese persons the possibility of acquiring an EU residence card which offers visa-free travel within the Schengen area.

Global ranking: Ranked 23rd on the Henley & Partners Quality of Nationality Index

Processing time: Four to six months

After stringent due diligence checks, successful applicants are requested to complete the qualifying investments and are then issued a residence permit. An independent processing body, the Malta Residence and Visa Agency, then issues successful applicants with a Maltese Residence Certificate and card that functions as an official residency permit. The certificate is monitored annually for the first five years from its issue, and every five years thereafter. There are no minimum physical presence requirement.

Estimated investment: EUR 330,000 to EUR 550,000 (mixed capital requirements)

2. Portugal

Situated on the Atlantic seaboard, Portugal is one of the oldest countries in Europe with an excellent reputation, a very high Human Development Index ranking, a high level of security, and one of the world’s most globalised and peaceful nations. A relatively small country of approximately 11 million people, Portugal boasts a rich history, a lively culture, exceptional cuisine, a mild climate, stunning beaches, and idyllic countryside. The residence permit also allows visa-free access to the Schengen area and after five years as a resident, you will be eligible to apply for permanent residence or citizenship subject to prevailing criteria.

Global ranking: Ranked 12th on the Henley & Partners Quality of Nationality Index

Processing time: Three to six months

All applications are reviewed by the Servico de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras’s (SEF), a subsidiary department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. A temporary residence permit will be granted initially for a period of one year, which will be extended for two further periods of two years each. The physical presence requirements for renewal are just seven days in the first year of residence, and 14 days for the two following two-year renewals.

Estimated investment: EUR 350,000 to EUR 500,000 (real estate)

3. Switzerland

Switzerland is often perceived as a very expensive country and accessible only to wealthy individuals and large companies. However, the overall cost of living and doing business in Switzerland compares very favourably with Germany, France, the Netherlands or the US, for example. Switzerland is business-friendly by tradition and offers a solution for every need and expectation.

Global ranking: Ranked 9th on the Henley & Partners Quality of Nationality Index 

Processing time: Two to six months; determined on a case-by-case basis

Estimated investment: Annual lump-sum tax payment of between CHF 150,000 and CHF 1 million (determined on a case-by-case basis)

4. Austria

Austria is one of the most attractive countries in the world to live in. An ideal combination of economic stability, a clean and safe environment and an excellent infrastructure make it an outstanding place of residence. For persons of independent means as well as those who can qualify under the “Key Manager” category, Austria offers the opportunity to become resident in a Schengen Area member country with minimal bureaucratic requirements. An Austrian residence permit allows you to travel to all Schengen states without the need for a visa.

Global ranking: Ranked 10th on the Henley & Partners Quality of Nationality Index

Processing time: One to three months

The application must be submitted at the appropriate Austrian Embassy/Consulate on the first working day of the year. There is an annual quota of 350.

Estimated investment: N/A

5. Cyprus

Cyprus is an attractive place to reside, with a warm and stable climate, and located in a convenient geographical position in the eastern Mediterranean. Cyprus, with its beautiful beaches and its tropical Mediterranean climate, is considered an ideal destination for permanent residence for non-European Union (EU) nationals. Cyprus has the lowest crime levels in the EU, a relatively low cost of living and has high quality healthcare and offers access to leading medical centers.

Global ranking: Ranked 24th on the Henley & Partners Quality of Nationality Index

Processing time: Two to three months

The residency application will be examined by the Civil Registry and Migration Department and will be submitted to a permanent secretary of the Ministry of Interior for a decision within two months. Once approval has been granted, the applicant and all the members of the family must visit Cyprus within one year to obtain the actual permit.

Estimated investment: EUR 330,000 (300,000 for purchase of property, 30,000 in bank account)

6. Thailand

With its rich cultural history, affordable yet exceptionally high standard of living and favourable tax regime, Thailand is becoming an increasingly attractive destination for travelers and professionals and to many even a second home.

Thailand’s exclusive residence program gives foreigners the right to live in the country for up to 20 years. It’s the first program of its kind worldwide, offering unlimited access to the jewel of Southeast Asia as well as a range of complimentary VIP privileges.

Global ranking: Ranked 101st on the Henley & Partners Quality of Nationality Index

Processing time: Approximately one month

Estimated investment: Ranges from THB 500,000 for Elite Easy Access (five-year residence visa), to THB 1 million for Elite Superiority Extension, a 20-year residence visa.

7. United Kingdom

The UK is one of the most attractive places in the world both as a business location and as a place for private residence. The UK is known for having a stable democratic government and a respected system of law which has been adopted by countries across the globe; and is well located between the US and Europe. The UK immigration rules are set to attract investors, entrepreneurs and people of talent.

Global ranking: Ranked 13th on the Henley & Partners Quality of Nationality Index

Processing time: Less than two months

Estimated investment: GBP 200,000 (Entrepreneur) / GBP 2 million (Investor) for five years

8. United States

The United States remains one of the most desired destinations for migrants and investors from all over the world. The US has a complex immigration system, and in each case it is warranted to assess the individual situation thoroughly in order to establish the immigration route offering the best chances.

There are interesting immigration possibilities for investors, and under the EB-5 program you may be granted permanent resident status (a “Green card”) through making either an active or passive investment.

Global ranking: Ranked 27th on the Henley & Partners Quality of Nationality Index

Processing time: 12 to 18 months

Estimated investment: USD 500,000 (passive) to USD 1 million (active)