月度归档: 2020年12月

UPDATE: Malta Reverses Decision to End Publishing of CIP Applicant Names

UPDATE: A previous version of this article (remaining in italicized print below) reported on news that Malta would end its policy of publishing the names of naturalized citizens in its gazette. A few minutes ago, however, Malta’s Ministry of Home Affairs reached out to IMI informing us that it will roll back that provision following a consultation with stakeholders, one day after the change was first reported in Maltese media.

Parliamentary Secretary Alex Muscat, the Junior Minister for Citizenship, explained that “in view of the fact that this clause can be interpreted as casting some doubt on the great work done to enhance transparency, the government has listened and is taking note of the concerns raised and will remove it from the legal notice,” according to Times of Malta.

The formulation in the legal notice, he explained, had been intended for “very specific circumstances” but would now be removed as “another sign of transparency. All the changes that have been made have been prepared in a positive spirit of good governance and the strengthening of a program that has greatly benefited  the Maltese people.”

Original article:

Until now, Maltese law required the publishing of the names of new citizens once a year in a government gazette. Following the issuance of a legal notice on November 30th, however, the decision of whether to publish the names of new citizens or of individuals whose citizenship has been revoked will be at the absolute discretion of the Minister for Home Affairs.

What prompted the rule-change, according to the legal notice, was “reasons of security”, presumably referring to the risks posed by the publishing of sensitive personal data in connection with CIP-based naturalization. The change in policy is an unexpected turn of events, particularly in light of the bipartisan consensus in favor of continued publication that emerged in Malta some two years ago.

The news will be welcomed by investment migration practitioners and observers, who have long argued that such publication not only constitutes a violation of individual privacy rights – which are just as valid as, but conflict with, the interest of transparency – but could also potentially endanger the citizen’s personal safety.

In a 2019 article in IMI, three scholars of European law cautioned against ignoring the “possible steep negative consequences such publication could have for the new citizens, including potential interference with business or financial interests in the original or new state of nationality.” They also pointed out that though practices differed widely between countries, the overall trend in Europe was moving away from publication and toward privacy.

“This is great news,” said Arton Capital’s Philippe May. “The publication and gazetting of the names of new citizens prevents many applicants from countries that don’t allow dual citizenship from choosing certain programs. Now they can be exempted from public naming.”

Malta’s political opposition, on the contrary, expressed dismay at the decision. Karol Aquilina, the opposition’s spokesman on matters related to citizenship, called the change “unacceptable” and accused the government of wanting to add secrecy to the program, according to the Times of Malta.

In Cyprus, another country that, until recently, operated a CIP, Data Protection Commissioner Irini Loizidou has intervened on several occasions where MPs or members of the public have called for publication of naturalized investors’ names, as well as ordering the removal of articles that published names from a leaked list of CIP investors.

To be sure, though the Minister of Home Affairs will now have the discretion to exempt names from publishing, he may choose not to exercise – or to only occasionally exercise – that right. The default policy will still be to publish, and the Minister would have to actively intervene to prevent publication.

More Policy Updates

An unexpected turn of events in light of the bipartisan consensus in favor of continued publication that emerged in Malta some two years ago.

A transition period that will see the exclusion of metropolitan and coastal areas from the program will begin on July 1st next year.

Australia is bringing wide-ranging changes to its extremely popular BIIP, cutting five categories and raising capital requirements.

 

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Malta Moves to End Mandatory Publishing of Citizenship Applicant Names

Until now, Maltese law required the publishing of the names of new citizens once a year in a government gazette. Following the issuance of a legal notice on November 30th, however, the decision of whether to publish the names of new citizens or of individuals whose citizenship has been revoked will be at the absolute discretion of the Minister for Home Affairs.

What prompted the rule-change, according to the legal notice, was “reasons of security”, presumably referring to the risks posed by the publishing of sensitive personal data in connection with CIP-based naturalization. The change in policy is an unexpected turn of events, particularly in light of the bipartisan consensus in favor of continued publication that emerged in Malta some two years ago.

The news will be welcomed by investment migration practitioners and observers, who have long argued that such publication not only constitutes a violation of individual privacy rights – which are just as valid as, but conflict with, the interest of transparency – but could also potentially endanger the citizen’s personal safety.

In a 2019 article in IMI, three scholars of European law cautioned against ignoring the “possible steep negative consequences such publication could have for the new citizens, including potential interference with business or financial interests in the original or new state of nationality.” They also pointed out that though practices differed widely between countries, the overall trend in Europe was moving away from publication and toward privacy.

“This is great news,” said Arton Capital’s Philippe May. “The publication and gazetting of the names of new citizens prevents many applicants from countries that don’t allow dual citizenship from choosing certain programs. Now they can be exempted from public naming.”

Malta’s political opposition, on the contrary, expressed dismay at the decision. Karol Aquilina, the opposition’s spokesman on matters related to citizenship, called the change “unacceptable” and accused the government of wanting to add secrecy to the program, according to the Times of Malta.

In Cyprus, another country that, until recently, operated a CIP, Data Protection Commissioner Irini Loizidou has intervened on several occasions where MPs or members of the public have called for publication of naturalized investors’ names, as well as ordering the removal of articles that published names from a leaked list of CIP investors.

To be sure, though the Minister of Home Affairs will now have the discretion to exempt names from publishing, he may choose not to exercise – or to only occasionally exercise – that right. The default policy will still be to publish, and the Minister would have to actively intervene to prevent publication.

More Policy Updates

An unexpected turn of events in light of the bipartisan consensus in favor of continued publication that emerged in Malta some two years ago.

A transition period that will see the exclusion of metropolitan and coastal areas from the program will begin on July 1st next year.

Australia is bringing wide-ranging changes to its extremely popular BIIP, cutting five categories and raising capital requirements.

 

Our readers are the best-informed professionals in the investment migration industry.
Once a week, we’ll send you a curated newsletter with the week’s top stories.

Want updates every day?
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200 Out of 206 Jordan CIP Applications Pertained to “Existing Projects”

Faridon Hartouqa, Acting Chairman of the Jordan Investment Commission, the body that manages the country’s citizenship by investment program, this Monday told local press that the CIP had approved 206 applications between October 2nd, 2019 and today, according to multiple local sources, including Jordan Times.

The statistical update is the first to emerge since September 2020, when the same agency reported that 200 applications had been approved since December 2018. At the time, the agency said total investments through the program had already amounted to an eyebrow-raising US$1.38 billion, which would equate to average investments of nearly US$7 million, or about seven times the required minimum (since reduced from $1m to $750,000).

Observers have previously postulated that the most likely explanation for the extraordinary zeal and generosity with which investors appeared to be taking to the Jordan CIP – which results in the awarding of one of the world’s weaker travel documents – was retroactive qualification of investments; i.e., that investors already present in the country for some time had been awarded citizenship on the basis of capital investment that preceded the program.

This week’s release appeared to confirm that suspicion: According to Acting Chairman Hartouqa, 200 out of the 206 approved applicants “invested into an existing project”. The remainder had invested in treasury bonds, term deposits, and share capital to the combined tune of JD 13 million (US$18.3m), or a still-remarkable US$3.1 million on average.

Adding to the perplexity, the total investment raised from the program now reportedly amounts to US$1.22 billion, or about US$160 million less than in September. The JIC offered no clarifying remarks as to why this number has been adjusted downwards. Nor do currency fluctuations explain the discrepancy; the Jordanian Dinar’s exchange rate against the dollar – which is subject to controls – has barely budged since early 2019.

Total investment was, furthermore, not the only figure to shrink during the period; while, in September, the JIC reported the investments recorded under the program had created 7,369 job positions in the country, the JIC this week said the number stood at 7,326.

A further 30 applications remained under consideration, stated the JIC, adding that the approved applicants had come from very diverse geographical backgrounds, including Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Finland, Canada, Lebanon, Yemen, the US, Pakistan, India, and Saint Kitts & Nevis.

More Intel & Data

This may offer some suggestion as to how a passport that offers 51 visa-free destinations can command average investment of nearly US$7m.

Juwai IQI, Asia’s biggest prop-tech group, has partnered with IMI to produce a special report on immigrating to and investing in Singapore.

Once more confirming the tried-and-true IMI adage that says “nothing is so unlimited as a limited time offer on Caribbean CBI.”

 

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Singapore Investment & Immigration Report – From Juwai IQI, in Partnership with IMI

Consistently ranking as one of the world’s richest, safest, and most developed countries, Singapore has a global magnet for both investments and highly qualified immigrants. This new report, produced by Juwai IQI in cooperation with IMI, details the various immigration routes available to investors, entrepreneurs, and talented individuals.

The report further explores an array of investment asset classes on offer in the Lion City, with an emphasis on real estate, for which an exhaustive analysis of the property market, taxes, yields, price developments, and locations are included.

Additional coverage is devoted to helping prospective investors understand how the pandemic has influenced the property market in Singapore and the country’s economic trajectory.

You can find further information about the report, which is entirely free for IMI Club Members, below. If you’re not already an IMI Club member, you can easily sign up here.


Singapore Investment & Immigration Report 2020

Juwai IQI, Asia’s biggest prop-tech group, has partnered with IMI Research to produce a special report on immigrating to and investing in Singapore.

What’s in the report

  • The “Switzerland of Europe”
    • Reasons for Singapore’s continuous need for immigrants;
    • Highly targeted immigration strategies;
    • Global Investor Program (GIP)
    • Entrepass
    • Foreign workforce numbers
    • Future of immigration to the “Little Red Dot”
  • 2021 Singapore real estate investment guide
    • How to buy in Singapore;
    • Critical steps in the buying process;
    • Taxes and fees;
    • Resident tax rates;
  • Q&A with market experts
    • Impacts of the coronavirus on the housing market;
    • Rental yields;
    • Challenges and opportunities after the pandemic;
    • Transaction volume and price range of foreign buyers
  • Winds of change: Migration plans based on tax planning and wealth inheritance

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Ireland’s IIP: The Only Investment Migration Program Linking The UK and EU Post-Brexit


As Brexit finally sends the UK and EU in separate directions, nationals of both entities find themselves in a peculiar position; EU nationals residing in the UK must now apply for settlement, while UK citizens residing throughout the EU must follow suit and obtain resident permits one way or another. Except, of course, the Irish.

The citizens of the only English-speaking EU country, which enjoys unique ties with both the UK and the EU, find themselves in an enviable position, as they can roam both the areas visa-free under the Common Travel Area (CTA) agreement.

The Common Travel Area and the right to reside in the UK
The CTA is an agreement between Ireland and the UK which provides citizens of both nations with unparalleled rights such as the right to work, study, vote in certain elections, access social welfare benefits and health services, and, the right to travel freely between the two countries. 

In May 2019, both the Irish and UK governments reaffirmed their continued commitment to maintaining the CTA and the associated rights under all circumstances. The signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by both governments ensures the special status will continue even after free movement ends on the  31st  of December 2020. 

Under the CTA’s umbrella, Irish citizens do not require a visa or any form of residence or employment permit to enter or remain in the UK. Irish citizens wishing to continue residing in the UK are not required to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme; as under the CTA, they have the right to live, work, and access public services in the UK.

Ireland’s EU status post-Brexit
Ireland remains a vital member of the union and continues to benefit from an EU membership’s economic and political stability. As EU citizens, Irish nationals may continue to live and work freely in any EU Member State. 

Irish citizens continue to enjoy other privileges like access to the European Health Insurance Car providing them health care while traveling throughout the EU. For students belonging to Irish institutions, they have access to Erasmus+ and the right to study in the EU. Other perks for Irish nationals include waived mobile phone roaming charges when traveling within the EU. 

Qualifying for the Irish IIP Program
Investors interested in the Irish IIP may choose from four different investment options; all providing a pathway towards Irish residence, and eventually, citizenship. These options are: 

#1 – Enterprise Investment:

  • A minimum investment of €1 million towards an Irish enterprise, held for no less than three years.

#2 – Endowment: 

  • A philanthropic donation at the sum of €500,000 areas of public interests of Ireland such as arts, sports, health, culture, or education. 

#3 – Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT): 

  • A minimum investment of €2 million towards an Irish REIT listed on the Irish Stock Exchange to be held for at least three years is required.

#4 – Investment Fund: 

  • Similar to the Enterprise Investment option, a €1 million investment in an approved fund for a period of at least three years, such funds must be regulated and approved by the Central Bank. 

This diversity provides investors with more options so they can choose what suits them best. The most popular option by far, however, is the enterprise investment, with little surprise there as it offers a safe venture, simple exit strategy, and a nifty ROI. In the time between 2015 -2019, a whopping 77.2% of all applicants chose the enterprise investment option, followed by the endowment option at 12.2%.

The reasons the enterprise investment option dominates the IIP landscape are quite clear, in addition to the safety and profitability it provides, the enterprise investment option is a clear cut pathway to meet the preferences of the Irish government; as the government has highlighted preferred areas of investments such as nursing homes, social housing projects, and primary care centers. Those who invest in the fixed asset sector in these areas are not only perfectly positioned to gain approval but are safeguarding their investments as well. This risk-averse route means that the ultimate total cost of the program comes down to zero Euros, literally. 

The Irish IIP versus Golden Visa options in Europe
Compared to other Golden Visa Programs in Europe, the Irish IIP program outshines its peers. The Irish IIP’s investment options are a great example of this, especially when investing in enterprises, as the holding period of 3 years is low compared to other European investment migration options (Greece for example requires an indefinite holding period), while the exit strategy is simple and straightforward, no need to hassle yourself with liquidating your investment; you just simply get your money back.

Not only is it simple and safe, but you can make a good ROI when choosing a strong investment option, much like the ones we offer at Barta Wealth Advisors.  Both of our Nursing Home projects and our Social Housing projects are safe investments that derive income from the Irish state, 100% repayment guaranteed. Investing in our Nursing Homes, a 4% annual return is earned. Simple, elegant, and profitable. 

In terms of the country itself, Ireland enjoys one of the lowest corporate tax rates at 12.5% while Malta, Spain, Portugal, and Greece command a much higher tax rate at 35, 25, 21, and 24% respectively; for entrepreneurs and investors alike, this makes the Irish IIP program a desirable proposition. 

IIP best option post-Brexit
There are many advantages to the Irish IIP in comparison with Golden Visa Programs in Europe. The ability for Irish citizens to freely travel, reside, and study in both the UK and EU post-Brexit however, makes the program stand out among its European counterparts. 

Ireland’s competitive corporate tax rate and the IIP’s enterprise investment pathway provide business investors with an added incentive from both a professional and financial perspective. 

If you have more questions about the Ireland IIP Program or would like to speak further, please do not hesitate to contact Bartra Wealth Advisors LTD today. 

Interested in contributing a sponsored feature? Email us on cn@imidaily.com and see all our promotional options here.

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Portugal GV Changes a “Terrible Mistake”: Investment Migration People in the News This Week

Investment migration people in the news this week include:

  • Bruno L’ecuyer of the Investment Migration Council
  • Tina Cheng of Midland Immigration
  • Mohammed Asaria of Range Developments
  • Farzin Yazdi of Shard Capital
  • Andrés Gutierrez of CSB Group
  • Kate Everett-Allen of Knight Frank
  • Alejandra Vanoli of VIVA Sotheby’s International Realty
  • Niko Laković of Montenegro Sotheby’s International Realty
  • James O’Brien of International Realty Group Ltd.
  • Arthur Sarkisian of Astons
  • Luís Lima of APEMIP

Cyprus Mail: Cyprus: “Legal case against passports for investment is weak” – Expert

The Geneva, Switzerland-based Investment Migration Council has reacted strongly against the European Commission attempt to put an end to citizenship schemes.

“We defend the sovereign and societal value creation of Investment Migration Programmes, “ insists Bruno L’ecuyer, CEO of the Investment Migration Council (IMC).

“The two-month deadline set by the European Commission for the governments of Cyprus and Malta to reply to the letters of formal notice regarding their citizenship-by-investment pathways is approaching. In advance of this date, the Investment Migration Council (IMC) wishes to engage with all relevant stakeholders and remind them of a number of salient points,” L’ecuyer told the Cyprus Mail in an interview.


South China Morning Post: Easy path to citizenship makes UK top choice for Hongkongers fleeing political upheaval, says Midland Immigration Consultancy

“The number of Hongkongers who liked the UK showed the largest increase because the threshold for Britain is the lowest among [choices like] Australia, Canada,” said Tina Cheng, senior strategy director at Midland. “Hong Kong people simply holding BN(O) can apply to move to England, with almost no other requirement than living there for a period of time.”


Arabian Business: How Covid-19 has impacted the citizenship by investment industry

Head of Range Developments, Mohammed Asaria, pens an opinion piece for Arabian Business in which he outlines the blows dealt and victories granted to the investment migration industry in 2020.

After almost a decade of being involved in the citizenship by investment industry, helping people find an investment that also provides freedom to travel and the ability to live in pastures greener, I have never seen a year quite like this one.


International Adviser: How to advise HNW clients with UK investor visas

Farzin Yazdi, Head of Investor Visa at London-based Shard Capital, opines in International Adviser.

Some have called for the UK’s financial services regulator to create a separate client classification for Investor Visa applicants given the systems and controls required to be able to meet not only financial but immigration regulatory obligations. The next time you see a potential Investor Visa applicant, do think of the risks involved and call upon those who have stood the test of time.


Mansion Global: With New Limits on ‘Golden Visas’ in Portugal, Buyers May Look to Other Markets

n spite of safety concerns and travel restrictions, the market for so-called “golden visas”—programs that grant citizenship or residency to foreign nationals who make significant investments in a country, often in real estate—has thrived during the Covid-19 pandemic, with high-net-worth global buyers eagerly seeking out both physical and financial safe havens.

“Clients are diversifying,” said Andres Gutierrez, an investment immigration consultant with CSB Group in Malta. “In a pandemic, clients have realized that [citizenship by investment regulations] give an edge against geopolitical risk and volatility. They want investment stability, they want options for their children.”

[…]

“Portugal’s appeal and why it’s done so well is partly lifestyle and culture that’s particularly appealing, and values in Lisbon were pretty competitive compared to other European markets,” said Kate Everett-Allen, the head of international residential research at Knight Frank. “In terms of other markets, it’s quite striking how many there are.”

[…]

“Outside of Lisbon and Porto, we’re talking about small cities with not very good [transportation] connections,” said Alejandra Vanoli of VIVA Sotheby’s International Realty in Spain. “In Spain, you have excellent connections flying to Madrid, or on the coast, Levante, Seville or Andalucia.”

[…]

“Life costs are much cheaper here than in the European Union, and you’re getting a lifetime citizenship,” said Niko Laković of Montenegro Sotheby’s International Realty. “It’s a very beautiful lifestyle and we’re a maximum two-hour flight from major European cities. And you’re getting an actual passport three months after starting the process.”

[…]

“There’s no restriction at all to foreign ownership of land here, whereas there is some in European nations,” said James O’Brien of International Realty Group Ltd., an affiliate of Luxury Portfolio International in the Cayman Islands. “And obviously there’s no direct taxation at all, whether that’s property taxes, personal income, inheritance. It’s very difficult to find any jurisdiction that ticks all the boxes that the Cayman Islands does.”


The Express: Passports: Best ‘golden visa’ citizenships to beat Brexit travel restrictions

“A number of EU nations do provide the option to obtain residency within one month, however, in these instances, you must have lived in the country for a specified number of years, usually around five,” said Arthur Sarkisian, managing director of Astons.


Portugal Resident: “Terrible mistake”: Portugal’s golden visa changes ‘kill the Golden Goose’

Said Luís Lima of APEMIP (the association of real estate professionals): “The way I see it, there couldn’t be a worse time to introduce these changes. It was already a mistake when they were announced in the 2020 State Budget, but the decision has become all the more incomprehensible within the context of the pandemic we are living through…”

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Effective Backup Plans Part II: The 3 Indispensable Components


Reasonable Doubt
With David Lesperance

A contrarian expert on contingency plans for the wealthy delivers uncomfortable truths.


This is the second installment of a two-part series. Read the first installment here: Effective Backup Plans Part 1: Back to Basics

An effective Backup Plan includes the following components: 

  1. Alternative Citizenship(s);
  2. Alternative Residence(s); and
  3. International Access to Wealth.

Component 1: Alternative Citizenships
When developing this first part of a Backup Plan, it is important to determine upfront whether the family’s current citizenship recognizes the concept of “dual citizenship”. Many countries – such as the US, Canada, and the UK – legally recognize the right of their citizens to retain or acquire additional citizenships. Other countries, however, such as China, India, and the GCC nations, either do not allow or significantly restrict dual citizenship. In these cases, special care and protocols in the acquisition and maintenance of alternative citizenships are essential.

Citizenship is granted pursuant to the domestic law of the country granting that citizenship. Many countries incorporate one or both of the legal concepts of Jus Sanguinis or Jus Soli. Jus Sanguinis (Latin for right of blood) is a principle of nationality law by which citizenship is determined not by place of birth but by having one or both parents or grandparents who are citizens of the state. Jus Soli (Latin for right of the soil) is commonly referred to as “birthright citizenship”. It is the right of anyone born in the territory of a state to nationality or citizenship.

In addition, many countries also incorporate into their domestic nationality laws a method for an individual to “earn” citizenship through naturalization. Naturalization laws can take many forms and can include the following:

  • Meeting certain religious criteria: e.g. Israel’s Law of Return;
  • Meeting certain physical presence, tax residence, language, and local knowledge criteria, i.e. traditional naturalization in western countries;
  • Citizenship by investment: The traditional naturalization requirements are waived where specific economic contributions are made; and
  • General Authority: In many countries, the power to grant citizenship is granted to some government office or body based on their own criteria. This might be a contribution to the state in sports, humanities, art, economic benefit, etc.

When developing a robust citizenship component of a Backup Plan, it is essential that an in-depth examination of the family history be undertaken. If possible, the family history should go back at least to the great-grandparents of the current oldest family members. In certain situations (e.g. Sephardic Jewish claims to Portuguese citizenship), certain surviving family or cultural indicators are looked at to establish a more distant claim.

Generally speaking, lineage citizenships that can be acquired through family or religious means are from large, developed countries. These countries often offer excellent rights such as visa-free travel, the right to live throughout the EU, and credibility. Too often, families who have not stayed current with the ever-changing legal landscape in this area wrongly assume they are ineligible for lineage citizenship. As a result, they overlook this avenue while simultaneously reading in the press or on-line about countries that sell citizenship. Consequently, they may end up unnecessarily wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on a citizenship by investment program, rather than spending a fraction of this amount on professional advice to explore their potential claim through lineage.

Component 2: Alternative Homes and Business Locations
As noted in Rules #1 and #2 of the first part of this series, when choosing the right alternative home or homes, an effective Backup Plan must consider all the essential financial and family requirements. But sometimes, there are added benefits. For example, these alternative residences might also give some family members the ability to relocate temporarily or permanently for educational or career opportunities.  

One key point worth noting is that alternative homes should “Do No Harm” to the family’s tax position. The family’s advisors must examine the tax ramifications (and opportunities) that would arise should all or some of the family decide to make this location their new “tax home”. This includes legal pre-immigration tax planning and assessment of any tax treaties with the family’s current tax jurisdiction. Consideration also needs to be given as to the “physical presence cost” of each alternative residence. 

Finally, the future ability to convert residence status into citizenship through naturalisation is an important feature to consider and plan for if citizenship is of interest. 

Component 3: International Access to Wealth
Having your family safe in an alternative residence but not having the financial means to maintain them or your business is far from ideal. The only thing worse would be that your assets are safe, but you and your family are in danger or trapped.

To avoid both of these situations, the family’s financial advisors must ensure that appropriate alternative financial resources are available for the family’s use if needed. It is worth noting that the location of these alternative resources does not necessarily need to be in the same jurisdictions as the family’s alternative residences. In fact, given tax and privacy issues, they often should not be in the same jurisdiction. 

Given the significant amount of time required these days to complete a new financial institution’s “Know Your Client” process, it is definitely worthwhile to establish these new relationships outside of the home jurisdiction at the same time as the citizenship and residence elements are being put into place. In that way, any delay is avoided should there be a sudden requirement to move the bulk of the family wealth out of the home country.

In closing, in today’s world of rapidly rising threats to family wealth, well-being, and mobility, a properly designed and sustainable Backup Plan could well be the difference between future happiness and misery.

More From Reasonable Doubt

In this second installment of David Lesperance’s series on effective backup plans, the writer outlines three indispensable components.

History is replete with examples of wealthy families who lost everything for lack of a comprehensive backup plan, writes David Lesperance.

Vanuatu’s deputy PM concedes the country’s CIP investors are still just honorary citizens and that he plans to give them a yellow passport.

 

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Saint Lucia CIP Approvals Drop by 32% in FY2019-20

The number of approved applications for Saint Lucia’s Citizenship by Investment Programme fell to 143 during the 2019-20 fiscal year (which ended on March 31st, 2020), a reduction of about 32% compared to the preceding fiscal year, in which 210 approvals were granted.

The drop, according to Ryan Devaux, Chairman of the country’s Citizenship by Investment Board, was owed to a now-resolved impasse with the program’s international promoters. “During the period of negotiation, the marketing agents’ efforts towards marketing the program and driving applications was suspended,” Devaux wrote in the annual program report seen by the Saint Lucia Star. (The report, lamentably, is only viewable by physical visits to the Parliament building in Castries.

In the report, Devaux characterized the 2019-20 fiscal year as one of “challenge, hard work and ultimately success.”

The 143 approved applications had resulted in the bestowal of 188 new citizens, down from 288 in 2018-19 fiscal year. Of those, 70 were of Chinese origin, 23 were Russian, 15 Nigerian, and 10 Turkish. Since the program’s inception, Saint Lucia’s CIP has naturalized more than 800 individuals and raised some EC$131 million (about US$49m).

Nestor Alfred, the helmsman of the Saint Lucia Citizenship by Investment Unit, expressed satisfaction with his unit’s ability to adapt to the unexpected circumstances that arose in 2020 and carry on processing relatively uninterruptedly, even as staff members worked remotely.

“[…] This Unit has clearly demonstrated its ability to continue doing this despite any pandemic or natural disaster,” said Alfred, according to the Star.

The true impact of the pandemic on Saint Lucia’s CIP will not be clear until figures covering the FY2020-21 period (April 1st 2020 to March 31st, 2021) are published next year.

More From the Caribbean

The drop, according to Ryan Devaux, Chairman of the CBI Board, was owed to a now-resolved impasse with the program’s international promoters.

A transition period that will see the exclusion of metropolitan and coastal areas from the program will begin on July 1st next year.

Once more confirming the tried-and-true IMI adage that says “nothing is so unlimited as a limited time offer on Caribbean CBI.”

 

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Govt. Confirms Golden Visa Days Numbered for Cities: Not Necessarily Bad News, Say Stakeholders

Long-anticipated changes to Portugal’s golden visa program were confirmed yesterday as the country’s Council of Ministers approved a change in a decree-law that will see residence investment channeled away from metropolitan and coastal property hotspots such as Lisbon, Porto, as well as the entirety of the coast, and toward the less-densely populated interior and autonomous regions (the Azores and Madeira). This according to reports in ECO News yesterday.

The amendments have “the objective of promoting the investment of foreigners in low density regions, especially through urban rehabilitation, cultural heritage, activities of high environmental or social value, productive investment, and job creation,” wrote Lisbon-based attorneys Caiado Guerreiro in an update on its website yesterday.

The changes will, reportedly, only take effect on July 1st, and there would be “a transitional period in 2021 and 2022 for the application of such measures progressively,” according to a government statement that did not specify precisely how long into 2022 the transitional period would remain.

Minister of State and Presidency, Mariana Vieira da Silva, explained that the changes were now warranted because “the context in which that [original ARI] legislation was approved was different” from the current context.

Emphasizing that already-active ARI visas would not be affected, the Cabinet explained that its reasoning for placing the effective date more than six-months in the future was that the “government always made changes that impact the lives of people or companies take effect on either January 1 or July 1” and that, as January 1st had been considered too near in time, they had picked July 1st.

Caiado Guerreiro pointed out in its dispatch that “it should be noted that, although the final diploma has not yet been released, it is expected that these changes will reinforce the growing trend of investors in search for alternative investment options […]”

“Possibilities will be endless”
Questioned as to the purpose of the transitional period, Patricia Valadas Coriel of Valadas Coriel & Associados explained that because the diploma as yet remained unpublished, few specific details on what it would entail were known. She nonetheless expressed optimism regarding the program’s future:

“The Portuguese Golden Visa proposition will remain strong. There will be other, less expensive investment options. Property prices in the interior are considerably cheaper and fund investment options are becoming increasingly attractive. You will see that the possibilities will be endless; we just need to be creative,” she cheerfully concluded.

Speaking from Lisbon where he is currently spending Christmas with his family, Jeremy Savory of Dubai-based Savory & Partners, a goodly proportion of whose clients continue to apply for the Portuguese golden visa, was similarly sanguine about the changes.

“Although the minutiae of the legislation have yet to be laid out, it is welcome news for those potential investors that have been waiting for some clarity,” Savory said. “Now, those golden visa investors have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in Lisbon and Porto at attractive prices, especially with the glut of AirBnB rental property that has come back onto the market in 2020.”

Several of the Portuguese immigration law firms with which IMI has been in touch on the matter indicated they preferred to reserve judgement until the details of the diploma had been published.

More Policy Updates

A transition period that will see the exclusion of metropolitan and coastal areas from the program will begin on July 1st next year.

Australia is bringing wide-ranging changes to its extremely popular BIIP, cutting five categories and raising capital requirements.

While welcoming the new scheme, market observers expect it to have only limited success until travel restrictions are removed.

 

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Saint Lucia CIP Extends Limited Time Offer on COVID-Relief Bond Option

Once more confirming the by-now tried and true IMI-adage that says “nothing is so unlimited as a limited time offer on Caribbean citizenship by investment,” Saint Lucia’s Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU), in a circular disseminated last night European time, informed stakeholders that its US$250,000 COVID-19 Relief Bond option will remain in place for another year.

The announcement comes a mere ten days ahead of the LTO’s planned expiry date – December 31st, 2020 – following approval from Prime Minister Allen Chastanet’s Cabinet of Ministers.

In the circular, CIU-head Nestor Alfred wrote that the “amendments to the requisite regulations to allow for the extension shall be done shortly and, once implemented, the CIU shall be receiving applications for the Special Covid-19 Relief Bond in 2021.”

Applicant fees and commission structures, furthermore, would not change, said the circular. See a more detailed overview of the Saint Lucia CIP’s commission structure here.

Saint Lucia’s Citizenship by Investment Program, currently eight months into its fourth fiscal year of operations, has seen revenues from the program grow consistently each year since the beginning.

In an article published in IMI at the end of September (five months into the 2020 fiscal year), CIU-boss Alfred reported the program had “seen applications increase in excess of 50% from its total applications received from the start of its financial year April 2020 up until September 2020, as compared to the last fiscal year. Since the start of our fiscal year – April 1st, 2020 – we have already recorded 154 applications received.”

More From the Caribbean

Once more confirming the tried-and-true IMI adage that says “nothing is so unlimited as a limited time offer on Caribbean CBI.”

History is replete with examples of wealthy families who lost everything for lack of a comprehensive backup plan, writes David Lesperance.

Though things looked grim for Spain’s golden visa this summer, recently released figures show approvals are up 19% in the last six months. A uniquely Spanish rule intended to accelerate bureaucratic processes may be to thank for that.

 

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