作者: Dishun Marie

Does the Investment Migration Industry Need a Regulatory Body?

On a sunny day in Lisbon, I was meeting with my colleague and friend Anatoliy Lyetayev, well known to IMI readers, as we do from time to time to reflect on our industry. One of our conversation topics was what the future of the industry would be without a regulatory body to govern it and we thought it was worth writing an article to share our opinion with our fellow professionals, to see who it resonates with.

We see a lot of similarities between investment migration (IM) and the financial industry and, as such, we believe IM could benefit from the establishment of similar governing bodies. Financial intermediaries are governed by a self-regulatory body, instigated by the industry itself. Such self-governing and setting of (enforceable) standards lend a great deal more credibility and legitimacy to financial services professionals than they might otherwise command. Anyone dealing with them will know they have the proper level of knowledge, the proper insurances, the proper risk-adjusted capital levels, and so on.

Where to begin

Casting our thoughts back to our own industry, we’ve already seen embryonic initiatives in this direction thanks to the Investment Migration Council (IMC), which has managed to unite IM professionals and stakeholders in an association, with what we consider an appropriate focus: Education and information.

At this juncture, we must raise two questions:

  • What types of authority and requirements would an IM-industry governing body have?
  • Which organization could take the lead on this initiative?

We don’t pretend to know the answers; we merely seek to get the discussion started and plant idea-seeds in the heads of IMI’s readers by attempting to answer those questions in our own way.

Potential templates

When considering what such a regulator might look like, one place to start is to look at what exists already. Though there is no global governing body for investment migration practitioners, there are many at the national level.

Take Canada, for instance. There’s The Canadian Association of Professional Immigration Consultants (CAPIC) and The Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council (ICCRC), just to name the two largest at the federal level. Both associations played an important role in coordinating the Canadian immigration industry’s government relations and advocacy. The ICCRC actually went on to become a regulator in Canada.

As with similar organs for financial intermediaries, the role of the regulator here is to certify its members’ abilities to appropriately serve clients, vouching for the practitioners’ adequate knowledge and credentials so that one may feel safe in engaging their services.

The focus, therefore, is on education, licensing, and conflict resolution, all financed by the fees members pay to maintain their licenses and to be educated, both of which are mandatory.

In Canada, it falls within the mandate of each province to dictate who is allowed to offer facilitating services for its provincial nominee program based on the requirements of the province itself. While many provinces list membership of certain legal bars as the benchmark for immigration consultants, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island had a phase where they would list specific service providers, akin to how Caribbean nations designate local and global agents.

One idea could be to use a similar model to regulate our industry worldwide with an independent body setting up classes, continuing education credits, and exams for professionals to be granted the right to practice or to continue to practice. That model could be broken down on a regional level to allow for the flexibility needed in certain regions or nations where the country’s laws dictate specific requirements for immigration firms.

A governing body might mandate a certain minimum level of capitalization or particular types of insurance coverage, as is the case already in China. This would go a long way toward protecting clients against fraud or malpractice.

The above represent but a few early ideas upon which we hope IMI’s readers – investment migration practitioners – can build.

What organization could take the lead on this initiative?

Though we’re open to be challenged on the assumption, right now, we see just two realistic options:

  • The IMC, an existing organization that’s already active in gathering immigration professionals and that focuses on regulatory (due diligence) educational seminars and certification; or
  • A brand new entity, the future founders of which would likely be reading this very article.

The IMC was an initiative of one of the industry’s stakeholders and may need to demonstrate real independence by appointing a more broadly based board of directors that would include developers, due diligence firms, educational companies, government representatives, etc.

The IMC already has the platform and would just need to develop it further. A panel of members from around the globe could also be present at board meetings to provide insights and field experience to the decision-makers.

In the beginning, the IMC’s authority will – in a situation with analogues in the cryptocurrency market – depend on the recognition acceptance of “the people”, in this case, RCBI professionals worldwide. This represents a tremendous challenge, of course, but if the IMC can pull it off it would mark a colossal step in the right direction in terms of our ability to weed out the industry’s bad apples, and regulating it – both for the benefit of firms that operate ethically and for clients.

A global regulatory body for investment migration would bring a range of benefits:

  • It would enhance the industry’s image. Who among us hasn’t encountered clients who question the legality of what we offer and who request official proof or safeguards? A regulatory can remedy that and provide clients with an official source against which to double check the information. This could expand all our client pools considerably.
  • It could stop the price wars. If we all set a standard, whether globally or regionally, for office fees, costs of services, etc., the price wars will come to an end and we won’t reach the point where professional firms with qualified staff conducting proper due diligence lose business to a consultant running “a global business” from his living room and without the proper tools and knowledge.
  • It would filter out the unofficial investment routes. A regulatory body can ensure that all offerings match the laws and regulations of any RCBI program, safeguarding both the program and the applicants.
  • It would enhance services. A regulatory body sets a certain standard of excellence for RCBI services, and smaller firms can use that to enhance their practice. This creates a more level playing field where best practices are no longer a trade secret. This would obviously be better for clients.
  • It would enable meaningful consequences for misbehaving actors. A firm that gets caught dealing illegally in a specific RCBI program and loses its license for that particular program can simply move on to other programs. A regulatory body, however, could ensure that longer and more meaningful consequences are imposed on individuals and firms. This would naturally encourage prospective clients to check whether such and such provider is licensed, reinforcing the licensing body’s legitimacy and, by extension, acceptance among practitioners.

To conclude, we both believe the industry will need to have a strong regulatory body in place, truly independent and not vested in any commercial activity in the industry. The idea is not to kill some players but to integrate the ones who are willing to dedicate time and effort to improve and sustain the institution.

The ideas and arguments herein put forth are not the result of any consultation with any of the government agencies; merely the thoughts of your two concerned co-authors, who hope that, soon, we can see meaningful change in this particular aspect of our industry.

More Opinion

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Nicolas Salerno and Anatoliy Lyetayev argue that an RCBI-industry regulator would bring many advantages but that starting one is tricky.

Parviz Malakouti: That CBI applicants the world over often complete the minimum statutory requirements to get the benefit is no “revelation”.

Many Americans still harbor serious myths and misunderstandings about alternative residences and citizenships, writes David Lesperance.


The post Does the Investment Migration Industry Need a Regulatory Body? appeared first on Investment Migration Insider.

US Embassy in Moscow Suspends Visa Services: CBI Lifting the Iron Curtain

Anatoliy’s Analysis
With Anatoliy Lyetayev

Anatoliy Lyetayev covers topics that help industry professionals be more efficient, do more business, and make more money.

In a startling turn of events, the US Embassy in Moscow has announced it will reduce its consular services starting May 12th to include only emergency services to US citizens and limited “life or death” immigrant visas. This declaration comes only a month after the US Consulate General in Vladivostok announced it would suspend visa services starting April 1st, 2021. 

The embassy will no longer offer typical immigrant or non-immigrant visa applications for non-diplomats, a decision that will direly affect those with a Russian passport hoping to reach American shores. The reason for this drastic decision was a response to the Russian government’s announcement of its intention to prohibit US Mission Russia from employing foreign nationals in any capacity.

At first glance, this decision would appear as an eye for an eye, knee-jerk reaction but it may prove to be much more than this. We have two scenarios at hand; the first is that this is merely returning the courtesy and is only a short-term political move that will end soon, returning everything back to normal.

The second scenario, however, is much bleaker. The Kremlin’s decision could be a sign of the iron curtain falling once more between the US and Russia, as the new White House does not enjoy the same relationship its predecessor had with the old guard in Moscow. Suppose this is the case, and tensions are brewing. Russians who want to enter the US should prepare themselves for trips to Kyiv, Yerevan, or other neighboring cities with fully functioning US embassies. 

The inconvenience does not stop there, however, as Russians now have to deal with different embassy mindsets; the US embassy in Ukraine, for example, refused 45% of all Ukrainian B1 visa applicants. The US embassy in Moscow only rejected 15% of Russian applicants for the same visa. Applying through an embassy that has so high refusal rates that rejecting applications is part of the daily routine can make it challenging for Russians to endure such a process. Thankfully there is a solution if scenario B proves to be true; CBI.

Raising the Curtain

Many regard CBI as the ultimate Plan B, and for good reason, it offers HNWIs worldwide optimal safeguarding of their personal and financial assets. It is in times like these that CBI comes to the forefront of every HNWI’s mind.

The Russian elite, many of whom have investments, assets, or businesses in the US, now find themselves unable to obtain a US visa through the consulate on their own soil and must devise a convoluted plan of action to accomplish what would otherwise have been uncomplicated.

CBI provides them with a multitude of options to ease the burden of getting a visa, as it opens corridors to the rest of the world where investors can apply through an embassy or consulate with fast processing times or lower rejection rates. 

Some nationals of CBI granting nations – such as St. Kitts & Nevis and Grenada – can even get a B1 visa valid for ten years instead of the three available to Russians. At the same time, Grenadians can obtain an E2 visa and circumvent the process entirely.

But this is not about convenience; it is about need. Alarm bells may not go off yet, and only time will tell if the relationship between Russia and the US has been strained beyond repair.

The US Department Of State told PIE news that out of the 265 US embassies and consulates worldwide, 123 were either closed, temporarily closed, or only offering emergency services. That is 50% of all US visa application centers worldwide.

The fear is that things could get even worse. If both the US and Russia bring their respective global influences to bear and more countries start playing risk-prone cold-war games, we may be looking at a world more closed than in many, many decades. The thought may seem far-fetched at the moment but what happened this week in Moscow would have appeared highly unlikely just a few years ago.

Because HNWIs have a lot, they have more to lose. The last thing they need is to be at the mercy of governments that let petty issues escalate to hinder their populations significantly. I have said it many times: You never know when a government will suddenly go crazy or get into an argument (or worse) and they tend to do that more often when times are tough. 

CBI is the hedge against that.

More From Anatoliy’s Analysis

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Anatoliy Lyetayev: In a startling turn of events, the US Embassy in Moscow has announced it will limit its services to emergencies only.

In his interview with Anatoliy Lyetayev, Roger Ver says the US government is lying about how many Americans are renouncing their citizenship.

HNWI-population growth shows Kenya is on the path to creating large pools of potential clients. Now, all they need is awareness of RCBI.


The post US Embassy in Moscow Suspends Visa Services: CBI Lifting the Iron Curtain appeared first on Investment Migration Insider.

Will Next Year’s Price Change Kill Portugal GV’s Fund Investment Category?

In this fourth installment of the Mobility Standard, we spoke to Murat Coskun of Get Golden Visa, a man who’s been closely involved with the Portugal Golden Visa’s fund investment option since the very beginning. We asked him a range of questions about RCBI fund options, including:

  • Which investment migration programs out there, beyond Portugal, have a fund option, either explicitly in their regulations or as a hypothetical possibility under their legal frameworks?
  • Why don’t any of the Caribbean CIPs have such fund investment options?
  • Now that Portugal has decided to raise the minimum investment for the fund category from 350,000 to half a million euros starting next year, will the funds struggle to attract investors?
  • In the last several years, only a double-digit number of golden visa investors have picked the fund option, but there are already more than 20 funds available. With such an unfavorable ratio, how can fund managers expect to raise enough capital?
  • Portugal has proven that there’s an appetite for investment fund options among investor migrants. Which other programs are likely to take advantage of this market next?
  • What are the common pitfalls of fund investment? Which factors should you take into consideration when evaluating a fund? 
  • What are the tax advantages that fund investment has over real estate?

What will happen to the fund option after the price increase next year?

Christian Nesheim: “Someone I spoke to, who’s big in Portugal’s real estate refurbishment option market, told me very bluntly that Portugal’s fund option is “dead in the water” because it’ll go up to EUR 500,000 [from the current EUR 350,000] next year and that will make it uncompetitive. What’s you answer to that, Murat?”

Murat Coskun: “Now that the price is going up for funds next year, a couple of things will happen. First, we are for sure going to have a very busy 2021. Then, because of the price increase, there will be a sudden drop in demand for the fund option at the beginning of 2022, yes, but there will still be demand.”

That demand, Coskun specifies, will remain because of the many inherent advantages that funds have over real estate:

  • They are a completely passive investment, rather than a property that must be visited or managed by the investors, something that’s been complicated by the pandemic.
  • They offer a number of tax advantages of real estate: Little to no capital gains tax upon exit and low roundtrip transaction costs.
  • The rise of American applicants, who are much more used to financial instruments than investors with a shorter history of public markets, will serve to bolster interest in the fund option.

“With the new geographical restrictions on the real estate options coming next year, more investors will opt for the fund option.”

Coskun highlights that the investment fund option has grown from a mere seven applications in 2019 to 48 in 2020 and that there were 18 in the first three months of 2021 alone, and says he expects the total at the end of 2021 will far surpass the 2020 total.

But even if the number of applicants that pick the fund option triples in 2021, those 150-ish investors will have to be split among 20 different funds. How can fund managers expect to raise enough capital?

Coskun concedes that such an unfavorable ratio will spell trouble for some funds and points out that, for precisely that reason, vetting will be crucial.

“There is no doubt that the changes will leave some of the newer funds quite exposed. Some of those will have a tough time raising funds and we may see some of them drop out of the race completely. That means you need to vet the funds when you are investing today so that you’re not left with a dying fund come 2022.”

Since vetting will be so important, what factors should investors place the most weight on when evaluating a fund?

“First and foremost, look at what the fund focuses on,” Coskun says. “What business sectors, what type of assets, what type of business strategy is it going for. Is it going for startups in healthcare? Is it going for real estate? If real estate, is it only Portuguese real estate? Is it focusing on commercial or residential assets? It’s important to know the fund’s investment philosophy. Once you have a good idea of that, the next question is who are the fund managers? Who are they and what is their track record?”

Coskun also cautions people to check whether the people sponsoring the fund are real estate developers. If they are, he says, they might merely be using the fund to sell its own overpriced real estate.

Listen to the full episode to learn more.

The post Will Next Year’s Price Change Kill Portugal GV’s Fund Investment Category? appeared first on Investment Migration Insider.

Is Every Turkish Real Estate Broker Also a Citizenship Agent Now?

It now seems that the majority of Turkish real estate agents are also offering citizenship application services at, in many cases, exceptionally low prices for that service, with some even claiming that they are not charging anything at all.

While at face value you might feel you are getting a great bargain, there is often more to the story than what first meets the eye. 

Since we are talking about real estate agents, it should come as no surprise that their first priority is to sell you a property. What happens to you after buying that property is a different question, and certainly not a priority. 

Turkish real estate agents had been selling properties to foreigners for decades before they even heard of citizenship by investment, and they will continue to sell to foreigners for the foreseeable future, even if/when the program ends. They see the citizenship program, for however long it lasts, as a useful gimmick for attracting more business today.

In contrast, established investment migration law firms, such as CIP Turkey, with a proven track record and a 20-year reputation to uphold, will take the utmost care and give attention to detail to ensure that all our clients qualify for citizenship in as little time as possible.

In 2019, there were approximately 6,000 property sales in Turkey connected to the citizenship program, which is a small number when compared to the 67,000 units sold by real estate agents to foreign buyers for reasons unrelated to citizenship applications.

“Special price for you, my friend”

As more real estate agents try to capitalize on the program in the short term, we have been experiencing a sharp increase in CIP investors asking for our assistance after their applications were mishandled or incorrectly filed, leaving them unable to qualify even after satisfying the minimum investment requirement.

We find that the most common reason for rejection is the incorrect registering of funds when entering Turkey, or not being properly registered at the time of the title deed transfer.

There is also common malpractice when it comes to the subject of VAT exemption. Although foreign buyers still remain exempt, real estate agents might tell you that “everything is fine” and that it is “all under control”. What they are not telling you is that the VAT has actually been embedded into the price of the property, meaning that you would effectively be paying at least $2,500 on top of the minimum CIP purchase price of $250,000 – VAT rates for properties can also rise to 8% and 18% depending on the property and location. 

The process of exempting an investor from paying VAT is complex and usually takes at least 8 weeks to finalize. Given that agents don’tt want to wait months for VAT exemption to complete before cashing their their commission on the property sale, they will tell you that they are taking care of everything, when in fact you are paying for everything.

With our many years of experience delivering thousands of residence permits and citizenships, we have managed to streamline the entire process making us faster and more efficient than any of our rivals. This is particularly evident in the case of VAT exemptions, where we can complete that stage of the process in just a few days, saving our clients nearly two months on that part alone. 

Feel free to get in touch with us today if you would like to learn more about how you can save valuable time by letting CIP Turkey handle your application.

To learn more, visit us at CIPTurkey.net, email us on info@cipturkey.net, or call us on +90 555305 32 93.

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

The post Is Every Turkish Real Estate Broker Also a Citizenship Agent Now? appeared first on Investment Migration Insider.

The Investment Migration Program Database – 2021 Edition

In partnership with Stephane Tajick Consulting, IMI is today releasing the 2021 edition of the world’s most comprehensive database on residence and citizenship by investment programs, the IMI-STC Investment Migration Program Database.

The Database contains essential information on more than 200 investment migration programs globally.

Author and curator of the database is specialist researcher, government advisor, and consultant in the residence and citizenship by investment sphere, Stephane Tajick, who since 2016 has provided the investment migration industry with a vast set of data and reports.

Previously only available for sale via STC’s website, the Database is fully accessible for free to IMI Club members, thanks to an official partnership between STC and the IMI Research Unit.

What’s new in this year’s edition?

Stephane Tajick has updated and expanded the database to incorporate changes to the following:

  • Malta’s MEIN policy
  • Malta’s MPRP
  • Cyprus Residency programs
  • Caribbean CIP dependents definitions
  • Panama Qualified Investor Immigration Program
  • Egypt’s CIP

as well as a wide range of minor program policy changes.

What the STC Investment Migration Program Database contains

For each program and subprogram, you’ll find entries on:

  • General program information
    • The government’s official website for that program
    • Program inception date
    • Date of last program amendment
    • Application quota (if applicable)
  • Application process
    • Language of application
    • Language of documents
    • Definition of parent and child dependents
    • Main applicant application costs
    • Adult and child dependent application costs
    • Spouse application costs
    • Renewal timeframes
    • Renewal costs
    • Whether applications must be filed through an appointed agent
    • Total application processing time
    • Detailed explanation of application procedures
    • Whether an interview is required
    • Details on restricted nationalities
  • Investment requirements
    • Investment types
    • Investment type details
    • Investment amounts
    • Investment timeline
    • Investment holding period
    • Special benefits corresponding to the investment
    • Whether financing of the investment is permitted
  • Conditions of acceptance
    • Links to required documents list
    • Age restrictions
    • Financial requirements
    • Proof of origin of funds requirements
    • Criminal record documentation requirements
    • Medical certificate requirements
    • Health insurance coverage requirements
    • Language proficiency requirements
    • Exam requirements
    • Business experience requirements
    • Business ownership requirements
    • Accommodation requirements
    • Commitment to long-term residency requirements
    • Business plan requirements
    • Job creation requirements
  • Initial residence status
    • Residency status type
    • Residency objective type
    • Residency duration
    • Minimum length
    • Maximum length
    • Residency pattern
    • Physical presence conditions
  • Permanent residency
    • Residency requirements
    • Physical presence requirements
    • Health status requirements
    • Language requirements
    • Criminal record documentation requirements
    • Financial requirements
    • Exam requirements
    • Additional costs to obtain permanent status
    • Processing time
  • Citizenship
    • Residency requirements
    • Physical residency duration requirements
    • Absence rules
    • Age requirements
    • Health status requirements
    • “Intention to reside” requirements
    • Financial requirements
    • Criminal record documentation requirements
    • Language requirements
    • Exam requirements
    • Ceremonial requirements
    • Dual citizenship conditions
    • Additional costs to obtain citizenship status
    • Processing time

IMI Club members can access the entire database for free here.

More Intel & Data

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Release: The 2021 edition of the world’s most comprehensive database on residence and citizenship by investment programs.

“The UK represents almost one in two exhibitions so far this year,” says Eli McGeever, Vice President of property discovery platform Soho App.

Over the last four years, the number of main applicants approved by just the ten largest programs averaged nearly 28,000 a year.


The post The Investment Migration Program Database – 2021 Edition appeared first on Investment Migration Insider.

UK’s Share of Overseas Property Exhibitions in Hong Kong Triples in 2021

Hong Kong’s red-hot migration market shows few signs of cooling down and the UK has quickly become the most favored destination, by a wide margin.

Each week, 3,000 British Nationals Overseas (BNO) passport holders from Hong Kong apply for the UK’s special-purpose residency visa, the Times disclosed last month. The South China Morning Post, meanwhile, reports that in the nine months since the UK opened its bespoke path to citizenship for BNO-passport holders in July last year, Hongkongers have spent an estimated US$1.3 billion on nearly 2,000 homes in London, four percent of all homes sold in London during the period.

Those figures represent a sharp uptick from the same period a year earlier; Between July 2019 and March 2020, Hongkongers spent some US$522 million on London homes, accounting for just one percent of the total.

Property consultancy Knight Frank estimates that nearly one in ten foreign home buyers in London’s prime property market were Hongkongers, a proportion surpassed only by the French, who were behind 15% of residential purchases in the swankier neighborhoods of “the Big Smoke”.

The British government indicates it expects around 300,000 BNO-passport holders to buy a home in the UK within the program’s first five years.

See also: 8 Questions Hongkongers Must Ask Before Taking up the UK’s BN(O) Visa Offer

Empirical data on overseas property exhibitions in Hong Kong hint at a rapid escalation of the trend in coming months:

“The UK represents almost one in two exhibitions so far this year,” says Eli McGeever, Vice President of property discovery platform Soho App. “Australia and Canada take second and third spots – altogether accounting for more than 70% of exhibitions.”

chart, pie chart
Source: Soho App

During the same four-month period last year, McGeever points out, the UK accounted for only 15.5% of Hong Kong’s foreign property exhibitions. Between July 2020 and April 2021, he says, more than 600 UK property expos have taken place in the city, nearly half focusing on London homes specifically.

chart, bar chart
Source: Soho App

While London-focused events alone accounted for one in five property exhibitions in Hong Kong in the last nine months, McGeever notes that buyers are increasingly interested in less-densely populated areas, a trend he attributes to the pandemic. McGeever’s map of UK projects exhibited in Hong Kong during the first four months of 2021 shows that while the preponderance of Hong Kong buyers are drawn to England’s primary metropolitan areas – Greater London, West Midlands, and Greater Manchester – suburban regions, like the Home Counties and University towns Oxford and Cambridge, are also favored destinations.

Source: Soho App

Bloomberg estimates that Hong Kong BNO-passport holders planning a move to the UK will sell up to US$20 billion worth of homes in this year:

The city may see about 13,100 to 16,300 households move to the U.K. via their British National (Overseas) visas in 2021, Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Patrick Wong said in a report on Tuesday. The number represents 0.9% to 1.1% of households living in privately owned homes.

Current property prices indicate home sellers from Hong Kong – the world’s priciest housing market – can expect to get twice as much property for the same amount in London.

The steep rise in Hongkongers selling their homes to move to the UK, however, is not likely to depress the SAR’s housing market; as locals leave, mainland buyers are absorbing the new supply. Secondary home prices in Hong Kong remain near their all-time-high, mortgage-rates are at a decade-low, and mainland buyers have seen their share of purchases rise to 11% of the total, up from 8.7% three quarters earlier.

More Intel & Data

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“The UK represents almost one in two exhibitions so far this year,” says Eli McGeever, Vice President of property discovery platform Soho App.

Over the last four years, the number of main applicants approved by just the ten largest programs averaged nearly 28,000 a year.

The pandemic year left an indelible mark on virtually every investment migration program but by no means in equal measure.


The post UK’s Share of Overseas Property Exhibitions in Hong Kong Triples in 2021 appeared first on Investment Migration Insider.

Why Those Hoping to Design CIPs in the South Pacific Are in For a Ride

Due Process
With Michael Krakat

Legal Scholar Michael B. Krakat observes investment migration through the lens of international, constitutional, and administrative law.

Edited by Christian Nesheim and Ahmad Abbas

When creating CBI programs in the South Pacific, policy- and lawmakers, as well as advisers, need to take into consideration a variety of regional idiosyncrasies that they’re not likely to encounter in equal measure elsewhere. In the South Pacific small island states, Western notions of nationhood, nationality, and citizenship are interpreted, perceived, and ranked differently than they are in the cultures in which they originated.

In his seminal 1983 book, Imagined Communities, Benedict Anderson was the first to adopt what has since become a common academic characterization of the concept of nations: Invented, ideological, and historical fictions (“imagined communities”). While the Western (read: Westphalian) idea of the nation is founded on precisely those fictions, the same concept in the South Pacific has an entirely different meaning. And that had consequences for those seeking to establish citizenship by investment programs in the region.

While the legal concept is the same, the South Pacific interpretation of nationality and citizenship grows out of collective, historical experiences that are entirely distinct from those in Europe or North America. Distinct how?

First, unlike Europe and North America, the South Pacific region contains far more ocean than land. Its cultures are scattered across the seas and have, in many cases, developed with only limited interaction between each other. These cultures are, thankfully, not comprehensible or expressible through legal-political principles and doctrines alone. Nationhood, here, did not evolve in a linear fashion, as emulations of development-paths in other regions.

Citizenship as a legal “transplant”

Independence for most island states in the South Pacific came about during the same period in which similar developments took place in the Caribbean; The 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. The newly independent countries needed laws and were not inclined to reinvent the wheel entirely. Instead, they typically adapted, and then adopted, much of the legal framework inherited from the colonial powers, anachronistic vestiges of which remain in place.

Along with that inherited legal framework came the Western legal notion of ‘nationhood’. It had not arisen organically in the Pacific but, instead, reflected particular historical paths taken in Europe. Nationality laws in the South Pacific were transplants, taken from the European body of laws, airlifted to remote islands in the hope that they would assimilate with the local fabric of laws, customs, and cultures.

But the nature of transplants is that they don’t always match the recipient system. I propose that, since the transition to independence, the South Pacific’s concept of nationhood has metamorphosed into a concept in its own right, one that is more flexible than it is elsewhere and that, thanks to an infusion of local culture, has not fully adopted the same metes and bounds.

If this hypothesis proves correct, and experience tells us it should, CBI planners over here are in for a ride.

The nation-building exercise in the South Pacific is still ongoing, which partly explains why the practice of CBI has yet to fully settle in the region as well. Only one of the region’s states – Vanuatu – has active CBI programs, but many, perhaps most, have specific CBI plans on the drawing board. These planned programs are completely revised, revamped, and reconstituted from the shadows of the region’s proto-programs of the past.

See also: The Bizarre Story of How the King of Tonga’s Court Jester Lost $26 Million Made from Passport Sales

However, history repeats itself, and it is not entirely certain that past mistakes and issues have been completely resolved, nor – indeed – whether they are even resolvable.

The interchangeable use of the terms citizenship and nationality has been around for a long time. Technically, citizenship outlines the municipal sphere, while nationality describes the international law dimension of the connection between the citizens and the state. Today, they usually fall together, and the reasons for this are complex.

In a constitutional-legal (and somewhat tautological) sense, countries grant citizenship to those who fulfill the formal legal requirements, warranting a look behind the veil of who the people for whom the elusive concept of citizenship applies are. 

Anyone is principally free to purchase a passport subject to certain standards, including fulfilling criteria such as due diligence checks. Whether nationhood is a static concept fulfilling the same expectations and core functions it may do in other places is the real question. 

Just as CBI is a formal, legal, and transactional practice, it may still evolve into something else. The concept of nationhood in the South Pacific appears as a formal and legal one, as constitutions and their preambles outline, to some extent, the metes and bounds. 

The level of material definitions assigned to the concept is sometimes unclear, which leads to ambiguities, fragmentation, and incoherence. This lack of clarity affects the meaning of CBI as well as its planning and structure. 

Citizenship is a concept that exists on paper within the confines of the law and in the people’s imagination, the latter being what people believe the law should contain. This conflates citizenship’s moral and political aspects and highlights the difference between what is and what should be, a premise at the heart of the concept, resulting in many misperceptions between what citizenship should morally mean and what it politically means.  

The concept of nationality in the South Pacific is sometimes viewed as a local mystery, although it should not be enigmatic. Vanuatu’s CBI experience provides a more holistic view through valuable contributions and observations of expert onlookers.

What actually constitutes a nation in the South Pacific paradigm emphasizes all government structures along with a strong focus on local political stakeholders, based from the ground-up, of customary cultures of local chiefs, traditions, family structures, networks functioning, and taking responsibility for local council.

Local rule defined the Pacific experience for millennia, and it contained conflict to a local level while maintaining the general absence of need for higher ordering principles of power. Unless, of course, a uniform voice of the people emerged and spoke as one, which is challenging to achieve. 

This structure reminds us of the principle of subsidiarity, addressing matters on the level of governance where they fall due, before the escalation to a higher rank of power, such as the national level, is required.

The need to define “nation”, in the Pacific, came only after the encounter with other nations

It is no surprise then that the emergence of a nation in some Pacific Nations such as Samoa was first related to other states. The necessity to define the country through a unified view in regards to other states was evident. 

To understand the meaning of ordering paradigms such as that of nationhood, we need to go back to the pre-colonial and colonial periods.

Colonial discourse (such as Sylvia R. Masterman, with The Origins of International Rivalry in Samoa, 1845-1884, 1934: 194) was adamant that chaos would ensue after colonial rule:

‘We have seen the islands […] pass from a state of primitive but happy disorder to a condition of semi-civilized but unhappy confusion […] until the bewildered Samoan chiefs, distraught by intrigues, begged that the burden of government might be lifted from them.’ 

The meaning of nation – and the derivatives of nation such as nationality and citizenship – in the Pacific perspective is closer to what Tan Otto and Nicholas Thomas poignantly describe in their work Narratives of Nation in the South Pacific’ (1997, 4):

‘Once independence had been gained […] the fundamental opposition between indigenous people and colonial powers was displaced by a far messier array of local divisions, relating variously to pre-colonial antagonisms between different indigenous populations, the simultaneous exacerbation of conflict and suppression of warfare during the colonial period, uneven development and corruption. 

The most obvious expression of this is the Bougainville War, but many more localized or primarily non-violent conflicts could be noted, in most other Pacific states. 

While a historian or anthropologist could unambiguously endorse the movement towards independence, and take continuing colonial hegemony to be immoral, there is no obvious stance and no wide agreement (neither among scholars nor within the countries concerned) about Bougainville separatism, the factional struggles within the Vanuaaku Pati, or the postcoup regimes in Fiji. 

If many anthropologists would empathize with the aims of the pro-democracy movement in Tonga, they might do so uneasily, only too aware of the degree to which democracy has promised so much more than it has delivered in other parts of the world.’ 

Liberal scholars typically support self-determination for indigenous peoples and advocate an autonomous nationhood. The idea of autonomy implies that ‘indigenous’ is itself an unproblematic and settled category on which a better nation would be able to rest. 

The very concept of indigenous status is often viewed as limiting, leading to further issues. Given the emphasis on local customs and precedence, it is likely that even the pre-nation state constructs of cultures predating colonization were ambiguous and politically contested, not settled.

Simple and insubstantial anticolonial posture, while necessary, is insufficient to constitute decolonized history. The replacement of colonial power did not come with swift alternatives, as independence came through struggle, willpower, and tears.

The question here is, were the pre-colonial experiences and the superimposed concept of nationhood already incoherent and incompatible?

As Otto and Thomas assert, independence has at times led to centralizations of power and sometimes escalated isolated local conflicts to the national level. The result is the ongoing incompatibility of nationality in its implementation compared to other states of the world.

The construction of the island – as well as all histories – is an inherently political matter. The time needed for establishing CBI in all Pacific domains is open for conjecture, mainly because the definition of nationhood itself is still an unsettled matter.

End of Part I.

More from Due Process

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In the South Pacific’s small island states, the notion of citizenship doesn’t have the same meaning as in the cultures whence it came.

Michael Krakat asks: What is a passport’s nominal visa-freedom worth if health-restrictions prevent you from boarding a plane in the first place?

The list of countries offering digital nomad visas as part of COVID-recovery plans is growing quickly, writes Michael B. Krakat.


The post Why Those Hoping to Design CIPs in the South Pacific Are in For a Ride appeared first on Investment Migration Insider.

“Aiming to Expand to Africa”: 10 on the Weekend – Ludovic Mapessa

Ten On The Weekend is a semi-weekly feature in IMI, the concept of which is simple: Each time, we ask the same ten questions of a different industry figure, letting readers get to know the interviewee on a more personal and informal level than they might in an ordinary business setting.

Our guest this weekend is Ludovic Mapessa of ROC Citizenship.

How do you spend your weekends? 

For me, the weekend means family time, so my wife, my son, and I normally go out for bike rides (in the wintertime, as Dubai can be extremely hot over the summer), go to the swimming pool, try to find new cafes/restaurants for breakfast, or invite friends over for barbecues. We started taking tennis lessons as a family as well. We all share the same coach. She trains my wife and me first and then our son. It is nice to have a family activity. Occasionally, I go with a group of friends for camping trips to the desert or beach which helps me disconnect from the busy life of Dubai. 

What are your top three business goals this year? 

The top goal will be to expand our business. We have done very well so far by opening a branch of ROC Citizenship in Canada last year. Our aim would be to expand to Africa, in particular Ghana and the West African region, where we have built strong relationships.

My second goal is to grow and develop the team. We have great investment migration advisors within our ranks willing to provide the best solutions to our clients but also looking to learn more about the industry and how to improve as professionals.

The third would be to be recognized as a reliable source of expertise within the investment migration industry. 

What is your biggest business concern right now? 

The lack of global movement due to the pandemic. Prior to COVID, we used to travel to meet clients and partners. Although Zoom has been of tremendous help over the last year, we have noticed that connections have taken more time to form. Nothing beats an old face-to-face meeting to build strong relationships. 

Which book is on your nightstand right now? 

I must admit that I am not much of a book reader. I mostly read the news on my tablet or take courses on LinkedIn learning. I have also started learning Spanish on the Babel app. 

How and when did you first get into the investment migration industry? 

I have been aware of citizenship by investment for quite a while but never realised it was an industry on its own until I joined ROC Citizenship back in 2018. The Caribbean passports were well known to me, but I did not know this extended to Europe, Turkey and more.

What was your proudest moment as a service provider? 

It must be the time when we helped an Iranian family acquire citizenship in Dominica. At that time, our client was facing issues to renew his company trade license in the UAE due to his Iranian passport. Without his new citizenship, he would have been forced to leave the country with his two children who had lived in the UAE all their lives. This particular case, which had a tricky process as well, proved how vital our industry is for some people and that our services provide long-term solutions.

Which investment migration market development has surprised you the most in the last year?

It would be Turkey. Despite the level of investment required and not having visa-free access to Europe and the UK, the Turkish program has generated a lot of interest in particular in the Middle East. One must admit that it is an investor-friendly option as applicants can really get returns on their investment.

If you could go 10 years back in time, what business decision would you change? 

I would not change anything. I believe that everything that happens in life happens for a reason. All the decisions that I took in my life have led me to where I am today, and I cannot complain about my current situation.

What investment migration industry personality do you most admire?

For me, it is just more than a personality, it would be all the actors in our industry that help the sector grow. From the applications processors to the head of the CBI units; the government authorities backing our industry, the IMC advocating for us day in and day out; our colleagues in other companies assisting individuals on a daily basis. Pretty much all the people involved in our trade and who are helping to raise the bar of the investment migration sector as a whole.

If all goes according to plan, what will you be doing five years from now?

My goal is to help ROC Citizenship grow and become a well-known and reputable company within our industry as well as a source of information for those considering a second citizenship or permanent residency. I hope I to have have achieved that in five years’ time.

More From 10 on The Weekend

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Ludovic Mapessa says his firm aims to open offices in West Africa and that he’s is surprised by the astonishing success of Turkey’s CIP.

Vrinda Gupta says pandemic-related government measures have “caused a lot of delays in approvals for some of our clients.”

Tony Ebraheem worries about CIPs that are short-lived or announced by unofficial bodies, and aims to change that by advising governments himself.


The post “Aiming to Expand to Africa”: 10 on the Weekend – Ludovic Mapessa appeared first on Investment Migration Insider.

“Everybody is Worried About Everything”: Investment Migration People in the News This Week

Investment migration people in the news this week include:

  • Jean François Harvey of Harvey Law Group
  • Aaron Grau of IIUSA
  • Mohammed Asaria of Range Developments
  • Arthur Sarkisian of Astons
  • Inês Azevedo of Azevedo Legal
  • David Lesperance of Lesperance & Associates
  • Professor Dimitry Kochenov
  • Henley & Partners

Financial Times: Hong Kong immigration law change raises ‘exit ban’ fears

“With the national security law and the pandemic, everybody is worried about everything, we are trying to adjust to the new reality in Hong Kong,” Jean-Francois Harvey, ‎an immigration specialist and partner at ‎Harvey Law Group in Hong Kong, said. “We have had two or three calls just today from regular business clients, asking if we should be worried about this.”

Harvey said there were already provisions to get a court order to prevent a person leaving in the context of a business dispute and he did not see the need to include the provision in the amendment.

“If a client is asking me what is the risk of me being unable to leave Hong Kong, I would say I don’t know the risk.”

Arabian Business: Q&A: Is India seeking to tax NRIs in the Gulf?

Arabian Business caught up with Dr Anup P. Shah, one of India’s leading tax advisors – Managing Partner of Pravin P Shah & Co. and Mohammed Asaria, Founder and Managing Director of Range Developments, a leading Caribbean Developer involved in the Citizenship by Investment Sector.

Forbes: Why Stakeholders Want The EB-5 Visa Program Continued

Long-term (five-year) reauthorization would bring stability to Regional Centers and investors, enabling stakeholders to avoid worrying about how long the program will be in place. “Perhaps more impactful, however, is the program’s opportunity to become better,” says Aaron Grau, executive director of Invest in the USA (IIUSA), a not-for-profit industry trade association for the EB-5 Regional Center program. IIUSA advocates for the bill’s reauthorization, while also educating the public and the government about the program’s advantages. “A five-year runway, a Congressional endorsement of the program’s value, gives the program a confirmed seat at the table as Congress begins chewing its way through ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ and the most important matter to the EB-5 community: securing more visas,” Grau adds.

City AM: House prices: Which central London postcodes offer the most open space?

“We know that the arrival of Covid and the lockdowns that followed resulted in homebuyers placing a far greater importance on size and open space when it comes to a property purchase and this has been no different across London’s very top end market,” Arthur Sarkisian, manager director of Astons, told City A.M.

“The availability of this additional open space is likely to be reflected in the price of homes although that’s not to say that you can’t maximise such a feature by thoroughly researching a desired area during the homebuying process,” he added.

Observador: Ministro Cabrita SEA da frente

In her second tirade this year against the Portuguese Borders and Immigration Service (the SEF) – and the man responsible for it, Minister of Internal Administration, Eduardo Cabrita – Portuguese lawyer Inês Azevedo delivers sharp criticism of government dilly-dallying on migration policy, a process she characterizes as a “soap opera”.

Regular IMI columnist David Lesperance received a mention on the podcast of left-wing publication Mother Jones:

Host: “So, what stops the super-wealthy from just moving somewhere else? Where would they go?”

Michael Mechanic: “Well, there’s a lawyer named David Lesperance, and I wrote a little piece, a while back, for Mother Jones about him, and he’s from Canada but he’s actually expatriated to Poland and he specializes in expatriating people from high-tax countries to low-tax countries. He calls them the “golden geese”. And, so, he has helped something like 300 Americans give up their citizenship. At some point, you know, the fear that they’re going to be over-taxed can drive some people out.

Because of “revelations” in Malta, Henley & Partners have appeared in too many articles this week to list each individually, but the BBC version offers a good summary of the spectacle:

BBC: Malta golden passports: ‘Loopholes’ found in citizenship scheme

In a number of cases, applicants spent just days in the country in order to pick up their residency card, open a bank account and fulfil other requirements. One individual from the United Arab Emirates arrived in the morning and left nine hours later, having taken his oath of allegiance.

Another applicant seeking to rent a property through Henley & Partners simply requested the least expensive option that would fulfil the demands of the application process.

The Maltese government has not publicly responded to the investigation. However, it previously defended the scheme.

Professor Dimitry Kochenov appeared on Euronews’ Good Morning Europe, where he discussed Denmark’s new naturalization rules, which he calls a system of “citizenship apartheid”:

Boston Herald: When the taxes move higher, the taxed get moving

David Lesperance, a Canadian-born adviser, said,  “It must be remembered that since the start of the pandemic, many U.S. missions (where one must renounce citizenship) have been closed or operating at a reduced capacity. For example, I recently received an email from the U.S. Embassy in Berne, Switzerland, saying they had a waiting list of 400 people for renunciation appointments … and that is only one of 307 US foreign missions! So, in summary, the rate of expatriation will continue to accelerate dramatically,” he said.

The post “Everybody is Worried About Everything”: Investment Migration People in the News This Week appeared first on Investment Migration Insider.

Vanuatu Parliament Passes CBI Real Estate Option With Comfortable Margin

Vanuatu’s Parliament this Monday approved long-awaited legislation that will enable the country’s citizenship program to offer a real estate option (REO). The amended Citizenship Act passed the national assembly by 27 to 17 votes.

An explanatory note from the Prime Minister, which accompanied the new legislation, pointed out that this is not the first time a real estate option had been approved for citizenship by investment in Vanuatu:

The Real Estate Option Program (“the REO Program”) was a Program that existed in 2014 but was then repealed by Parliament in 2015. The purpose of this amendment is to reinstate the REO Program under the Act. 

The Prime Minister also appeared to point out that Vanuatu, secluded though it may be from the vagaries of the wider world, did not exist in a competitive vacuum and that devising measures aimed at making the country’s program attractive relative to similar CIPs elsewhere was crucial.

Vanuatu exists within the Global Economy and, to attract the necessary major investments, it must compete with the rest of the world in offering incentives to major investors. Without the assistance of the Government, these major investors will go elsewhere. 

With this in mind the Government has developed a policy to attract both major and minor investors by designating important projects that meet stringent Government imposed conditions as Vanuatu Government Approved Projects (the “VGAP”). 

Beyond hospitality

The statement also indicated Vanuatu may depart from CBI convention by looking beyond hospitality to projects to also develop critical health and education infrastructure.

The overriding consideration with the policy is that all investment facilitated by the policy must provide substantial benefit to Vanuatu in terms of expansion of infrastructure, growth of the economy and increase in employment. In addition, there must be commitment by the major investor to build and expand existing health and education facilities within Vanuatu. 

As the aim of the policy is to maximize economic growth with a focus on providing the necessary infrastructure to cater for growth of the tourism industry, the major investor will only be allowed to sell constructed houses, apartments and condominiums and will be prohibited from selling vacant land. 

A “real estate option” is an agreement that grants the party owning the option (“the optionee”), the exclusive, unrestricted, and irrevocable right to purchase property from the party selling the option (“the optionor”), during the specified period of time that the option is in effect. When an optionee buys a real estate option, he or she buys an exclusive, unrestricted, and irrevocable right and option to purchase a property at a fixed purchase price within a specified option period. 

The advantage of the REO Program is that Vanuatu, like other countries, has a greater potential to attract retired investors or wealthy individuals in the real estate option sector. Its prestige scenic and natural environment is an inherited asset that entices foreign investors and wealthy individuals to come to Vanuatu and seek a place for a peaceful holiday from busy working environments. This investment model enables the investor to tap the real estate market without the responsibilities of managing physical property. 

While Parliament has taken the necessary legislative step to permit the introduction of the REO, the job of formulating detailed requirements – such as which criteria would make a project eligible or minimum investment amounts – falls to the Prime Minister, whose office is also responsible for the Citizenship Commission. The legislation also limits the Commission’s REO application processing time to three months, although similar constraints among other CIPs are regularly flouted without consequence.

Urging prudence in project selection

Vanuatu-based Daniel Agius, a government-designated agent for the Development Support Program (DSP), welcomed the news but pointed out that the degree to which the REO is successful will depend on judicious implementation on the part of the government.

“Citizenship linked to real estate investment is one of the most frequently enquired about options in the international market. However, I hope the government is highly selective and stringent in vetting who it permits to be involved as this moves forward. There are plenty of examples of mismanagement in other REO offerings around the world. If the government is prudent in carefully considering the track record of potential participants in this initiative, it could be a great boost not only for the citizenship program but also for the local economy.”

Agius commented that no additional information on the program was available at this stage but that he understood the government would likely seek expert advice to develop the REO.

More Policy Updates

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Vanuatu’s Parliament this Monday approved, in a 27 to 17 decision – legislation that will enable a CBI real estate option (REO).

Hany Mostafa Moawad has undertaken an extensive Q&A session with Egypt’s newly established citizenship by investment unit.

Russia is changing its mind on minimum investments and plans to open what would be the world’s most generationally inclusive golden visa.


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