Demand from US billionaires for ‘golden passport’ programs has increased 337% in three years


A growing number of wealthy Americans are buying “golden passports” that grant them citizenship in New Zealand, Portugal and other “safe” countries for fear of impending civil war in their home country.

Henley & Partners, a firm that helps the wealthy seek citizenship around the world, said sales to US nationals worth between $50 million and $20 billion had increased more than 337% since 2019, Business Insider reported.

The countries involved – including Portugal, Malta, New Zealand and Austria – offer citizenship or visas that lead to citizenship in exchange for a significant investment in the host country and a visit of a few days only each year.

Latitude Residency & Citizenship and Dasein Advisors, two other citizenship firms, also said they saw more US client inquiries in the past three years than in the previous 20 combined.

“We’ve all been through the last two and a half years,” Reaz Jafri told Insider, referring to the pandemic and subsequent civil unrest.

“All of this has just reminded us of how vulnerable and fragile we are, and people of means are accepting of this happening again – and they don’t want to be caught off guard.”

Other issues that would have seen demand for foreign passports increase include the likely demise of Roe V Wade, who legalized abortion in the United States, Florida’s Parental Rights in Education Bill – better known as the Don’t Say Gay Bill, as well as fears. for the future of American democracy after the Black Lives Matter and the January 6 riots.

Portugal is said to provide the most coveted ‘golden passports’, with US billionaire sales on nationalities rising more than 377% in the past three years.

New Zealand citizenship is popular and grants golden passports to wealthy investors who only need to show proof of 88 days of residence in the country over three years.

New Zealand citizenship is popular and grants golden passports to wealthy investors who only need to show proof of 88 days of residence in the country over three years.

Austria immediately offers citizenship to those who contribute $3.7 million to the government's development <a class=fund or invest more than $12.3 million in a business” class=”blkBorder img-share” style=”max-width:100%” />

Austria immediately offers citizenship to those who contribute $3.7 million to the government’s development fund or invest more than $12.3 million in a business

Malta also grants European Union citizenship to those who contribute more than $1 million to the nation after just 1 year of residence.

Malta also grants European Union citizenship to those who contribute more than $1 million to the nation after just 1 year of residence.

REQUIREMENTS FOR ‘GOLDEN PASSPORTS’

Nations that offer citizenship to wealthy individuals often call on them to make large investments in their country and provide proof of residency.

Portugal

Payments: applicants must invest at least $200,000 in real estate

Residence: Applicants must prove that they have lived in the country for seven days in one year. Portugal in return offers a “golden visa” which lasts for five years and which can then be used to obtain a passport.

New Zealand

Payments: Applicants must invest at least $6.5 million in real estate, growth investments, or government bonds over three years for Investor 1 visas and approximately $2 million over four years for investor visas 2.

Residency: Applicants for Investor 1 status must prove they have lived in the country for 88 days over three years, and applicants for Investor 2 status must prove they have lived in the country for 438 days over four years.

Malta

Payments: Applicants are required to contribute over $740,000 to the national development fund, over $860,000 in real estate investment, over $12,000 to charity. To speed up the process, applicants must contribute more than $925,000 to the national development fund in addition to other investments.

Residence: Applicants must prove that they have lived in the country for at least 36 months for the standard process and only 12 months for the expedited process.

Austria

Payments: Applicants must contribute close to $50,000 to the government or, to expedite the process, applicants must contribute more than $3.7 million to the government’s development fund or invest more than $12.3 million in a business.

Residency: Applicants must prove they have lived in the country for at least 10 years, but the expedited process allows citizenship to be bypassed

Dominic Volek, head of private clients at Henley & Partners, said clients were worried about the “four Cs: COVID-19, climate change, cryptocurrency and conflict.”

Volek told Insider that his company has seen an increase in customers under the Trump administration, and once the pandemic hit, wealthy Americans were hit by the realities of their country’s COVID restrictions.

“In the very strict lockdowns, there was a point where if you only had a US passport, you couldn’t enter Europe,” Volek said. “I think it made a lot of particularly wealthy people realize that they are potentially a little more fragile than they thought.”

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt was among the wealthy elite looking for a ‘golden passport’ in 2020 when he applied to European citizenship in 2020 thanks to the now defunct program in Cyprus.

Along with fears of another pandemic, worsening storms fueled by climate change and concerns over an economic collapse, billionaires are also fearful of civil unrest from a divided nation that only seems to get worse every day.

Over the past three years, America has seen nationwide protests against pandemic restrictions, the Black Lives Matter movement, abortion-restricting laws gain momentum as the Supreme Court is on the Point of Canceling Roe V. Wade, Voting Rights and Critical Race Theory in Schools.

The country also received a shock on January 6, 2021, when supporters of former President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol in a deadly riot in an attempt to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.

In 2022, Americans continue to be divided on these issues as well as Florida’s so-called “Don’t Say Gay” bill and national police reform efforts, where liberal cities that enacted the new laws see an upsurge in violent crime.

Jafri said the problems plaguing America have caused billionaires to share a single concern, a fear about the future of American society.

Among the most popular countries for which billionaires apply for citizenship is Portugal, which offers a five-year residence permit that allows visa-free travel to 26 European Union countries.

Portugal’s program requires a minimum investment of $200,000 in real estate and an average stay of just seven days a year in the country. After the permit expires, individuals can apply for full-time citizenship, which takes an additional three years.

New Zealand, another popular “golden passport” country, grants permanent resident status to those who invest in residential or commercial real estate, as well as high-growth investments and government bonds.

The country’s Investor 1 visa requires around $6.5 million in investment over three years and requires applicants to stay in the country for 88 days during that period.

The Investor 2 visa requires approximately $2 million in investment over four years and requires applicants to be 66 or older and stay in the country for 438 days over four years.

New Zealand golden passport holders include PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel, who is worth around $5 billion.

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt was among the wealthy elites looking for a

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt was among the wealthy elite seeking a “golden passport” in 2020 as he applied for EU citizenship in 2020 through the now defunct Cyprus scheme.

Among the most popular countries for which billionaires apply for citizenship is Portugal, which offers a five-year residence permit that allows visa-free travel to 26 countries in Europe.

Among the most popular countries for which billionaires apply for citizenship is Portugal, which offers a five-year residence permit that allows visa-free travel to 26 countries in Europe.

Malta offers EU citizenship to those who contribute more than $740,000 to the national development fund, more than $860,000 to property investment, more than $12,000 to charity and provide proof of at least 36 months of residence in the country.

The nation also offers an expedited process that only requires proof of 12 months of residency as long as the applicant contributes more than $925,000 to the national development fund.

Austria provides “golden passports” through direct investment, requiring foreign applicants to invest more than $12.3 million in a business or make a $3.7 million contribution to the fund. government development.

Alternatively, applicants can contribute almost $50,000 to the government fund for residency approval and then apply for full citizenship after 10 years.

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