作者: Dishun Marie

American Golden Visa Investors Today, British Tomorrow: 10 on the Weekend – Sara Sousa Rebolo

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 Sara Sousa Rebolo of Caiado Guerreiro.


How do you spend your weekends?
In pre-pandemic times, the weekend used to serve to catch up on hours of sleep, as well as television series (I’m a huge fan of a good investigation or medical series) having lunch with my parents, a night of eating out and board games with friends, getting out of the dynamic of the city with my husband to breathe a different air and give attention to my Labrador. Now, with the pandemic, the boundary between the working week and the weekend is much more blurred, but I try to maintain the same routine, in a digital version, with video calls and online dinners.

Sara Sousa Rebolo makes sure to devote some quality time to her Labrador “Pandora” on weekends.

What are your top three business goals this year?
The main objectives I have this year are related, in the firstinstance, to the consolidation of PAIIR – the Portuguese Association of Immigration, Investment and Relocation – an association over which I preside, incorporated in 2020.

Second, to have a more active voice in the immigration industry, specifically in Portugal, contributing to the development of this area of activity with the presentation of some concrete proposals that can bring new migratory flows to the country and enhance the sector. I think the migration industry can be one fundamental pillar for economic recovery in Portugal and that now is the ideal time to innovate in this sector with bold new ideas, focused on the future and on the new priorities and needs that the market is beginning to demonstrate.

Last, but not least, a growing objective with respect to the metrics achieved last year in my firm Caiado Guerreiro, which will be a challenge given the restrictions and fears on mobility that COVID-19 still imposes for who knows how long.

What’s your biggest business concern right now?
In addition to the already tiring pandemic and all the difficulties and additional stress that it adds to those who work in this area, until a few days ago, the biggest concern was the uncertainty about the changes that the government was about to introduce to the Golden Visa program. Now that the changes have been published and we know that the program will remain stable without significant restrictions, the main concern is the competitiveness that Portugal can gain, or lose, compared to competing programs.

Investment flows in Portugal are still very volatile due to the small size of the country and the little official promotion of immigration programs, so it is important to maintain focus and continue to brandish the whole set of arguments that make Portugal a great destination country for corporate entities, HNWIs, pensioners, entrepreneurs, digital nomads, or even students.

Which book is on your night-stand right now?
Origin from Dan Brown. There is nothing like a good mystery in the context of a conspiracy associated with the greatest myths of humanity. I also recently read the Marquis’ Curse (a Maldição do Marquês), which dates back to the 18th century. It is a book based on true events and tells the story of the reconstruction of Lisbon after the 1755 earthquake at the hands of a controversial (but certainly one of the most intelligent and pragmatic) politicians that Portugal has ever had.

How and when did you first get into the investment migration industry?
In 2013, the year in which the Portuguese immigration law was changed in order to make Golden Visa investment options more flexible and Portugal became a destination country for investor migrants, largely due to Asian investors who saw in Portugal a country with great corporate and real estate opportunities and cordial relations with China, due to the Portuguese presence in Macau until 1999.

What was your proudest moment as a service provider?
The immigration lawyer profession is very challenging, namely because the final decision is always made by third parties, in this case the Borders and Immigration Service. Each delay, each controversial interpretation, each cancellation of diligence is reflected on us because we are the ones who face the client. So, in the team that I run at Caiado Guerreiro Law Firm, I insist that we celebrate all victories, however small. Each approved process always deserves a collective round of applause.

Even so, perhaps I should highlight a recent case where we managed to bring an international sports figure to Portugal to film an ad in the middle of a pandemic, at a time where consulates and borders were closed and mobility between the Schengen area and third countries was (and still is) a challenge. It was very difficult to articulate but we successfully achieved resorting to legal provisions that we rarely have the opportunity to use in normal circumstances.

Which investment migration market development has surprised you the most in the last year?
Well, in 2020 we noticed a reversal of the flow with respect to the United States. In any conference or event it is almost impossible to compete with EB-5 because not everyone knows Portugal or knows where it is or even that it is an independent country from Spain or that Portuguese is the 5th most spoken language in the world, and 3rd most spoken in the Western Hemisphere. I remember going to LA and being asked if we had elevators or air conditioning in our buildings…

In 2020, due to the political and social situation in the USA, we saw a change in demand from Americans who began to discover the advantages of this European country, politically stable, the 3rd safest in the world, and one of the most welcoming and respectful countries in terms of races, genders, and beliefs where, in 20 minutes, you go from the capital city center to the beach or in two hours you go to the mountains in the north or the warm plains of the south. In 2021, the phenomenon is British and a clear consequence of Brexit. Portugal was already a favorite holiday destination for British citizens and now it has become the best, cheapest, and closest way to maintain European residency or citizenship, in addition to being a tax-friendly country for cryptocurrencies.

If you could go back 10 years in time, what business decision would you change?
None. Incredibly, I started my internship as a lawyer in the corporate department of Caiado Guerreiro Law Firm, the office where I still work and of which I am now a Partner. However, the first issue that came to me on the very first day of work related to an immigration case, and thereafter, it seems that it was destined to be my path. The initial training in corporate and labor law ended up making me a more complete professional and attentive to the various legal perspectives of the cases.

What investment migration industry personality do you most admire?
I would like to highlight someone from Portugal so I chose Vanessa Lima. She was my trainee lawyer in 2013 and her professional career makes me very proud. She is a very dedicated, proactive, and careful professional. Her work capacity and fearless character were attributes that I noticed from an early stage so it was a pleasure to share with her the passion for this area and see her also becoming a reference and reliable professional in this industry.

If all goes according to plan, what will you be doing five years from now?
Any short or long-term plan at this moment only allows me to think of sunny days and vacations on a yellow sand beach, starting in Algarve as soon as I can at least leave my municipality of Sintra, taking into account the restrictions that we have been experiencing. But, apart from that, and focusing on the business, I will definitely continue to work in this area and I hope to be doing so with an active voice with regard to legislative policies and training new professionals in this area so that investment immigration in Portugal can gain its own space and socio-economic recognition.

More From 10 on The Weekend

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Americans used to ask Sara Sousa Rebolo if Portugal’s buildings had elevators and air conditioning. Now, they line up to get Portuguese residency.

Mimoun Assraoui and his colleagues aim to become the global IM industry leaders, a feat he believes they can achieve “in very short order”.

After raising $190m from investors migrating to the US, Rogelio Caceres is gearing up to meet the exploding demand in the opposite direction.

 

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?
Be the first in your company to know about breaking investment migration news; Get the most important stories delivered.

The post American Golden Visa Investors Today, British Tomorrow: 10 on the Weekend – Sara Sousa Rebolo appeared first on Investment Migration Insider.

Lesperance: It’s Time For Some Heavy Lifting in Vanuatu


Reasonable Doubt
With David Lesperance

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


As the recent disappearances of Jack Ma and Zhang Feng highlight, for HNW Chinese families, the design and implementation of an effective Backup Plan can literally mean the difference between freedom and disappearance, prison – or even death. To be clear, the purpose of a Backup Plan is not to evade justice. Rather, a proper Plan can ensure that those accused by the Chinese government of wrongdoing are actually afforded the rule of law protections that we in the West take for granted. These include the presumption of innocence, access to legal counsel, and the ability to deliver a proper defense.

Over the past few years, the most enthusiastic market for the Vanuatu CBI program has been China. In fact, up to October 2020, Chinese nationals accounted for over 42% of 4,037 “citizenship” statuses that Vanuatu had sold in the previous 6 years. But please take note; I put “citizenship” in quotation marks for a reason.

In a series of past IMI articles in Feb 2020, April 2020, and Sept 2020, I posed a series of questions that relate to a fundamental concern about the Vanuatu program:

Is the status that Vanuatu is selling inherently flawed and, therefore, dangerous in the long term to those who are relying on this status for an effective Backup Plan?

Specifically, I focused on the fact that the original version of the legislation clearly granted a status called “Honorary Citizenship”. In my articles, I laid out how Honorary Citizenship was viewed internationally. I also detailed the dangers to buyers who rely on such a nebulous status.

In a three-part series with IMI, the Chairman of the Vanuatu Citizenship Commission, Ronald Warsal, was asked a series of questions on a variety of issues concerning the Vanuatu program. Also interviewed were CEO James Elcocke-Harris of the Vanuatu Investment Migration Bureau, and locally designated DSP agent Daniel Agius. Kieron Sharp, the CEO of FACT UK, who has a background in the London Metropolitan Police and Interpol, was also questioned. 

You are welcome to listen to the entire series – it is very informative. However, to save you time the concerns I raised in my prior articles were covered in the first 6 minutes of the first part of the interview.

Let me recap my concerns:

Concern 1: Were there any specific legislative changes passed that changed the original Honorary Citizenship status?
In his interview, Chairman Warsal vaguely alluded to changes made “in 2017” without citing any specific legislation. In my April 2020 article, I reviewed similar prior claims of legislative change. I concluded that a review of the cited legislation did nothing to legally change the offered status from Honorary citizenship to ordinary Ni-Vanuatu citizenship.

Concern 2: What status does Vanuatu grant today to those who apply under their current program(s)?
Until someone can clearly and definitively articulate that the necessary legislative changes have been made (with proper citations to the legislation), I will continue to defend my position that the status being offered was and remains Honorary Citizenship.

Concern 3: If in the future there will be a legislative change from Honorary to Ordinary Ni-Vanuatu status for applicants after a specific date, what will be done to legislatively address those who had previously been granted Honorary Citizenship?
If the Vanuatu government goes through the legislative effort to change the status offered to new applicants from Honorary Citizenship to full Ni-Vanuatu citizenship, then they also need to pass legislation to deal with all prior Honorary Citizenships that have been granted.

Concern 4: If nothing has changed, what is planned for the future and when will this happen?
Towards the end of the segment, James Elcocke-Harris acknowledges that changes will be needed in the future However, he gives no timetable as to if and when this will occur. Further to this, the only actual government official, Chairman Warsal, makes no mention of any future action in this area.

Concern 5: If nothing has changed and Vanuatu is still granting Honorary Citizenship, is this a program worth considering even if there may be pricing and speed advantages?
As I articulated over three prior articles, I do not think the risks associated with acquiring a status that is anything less than full citizenship are worthwhile. The speed or price of acquisition is meaningless if the product received is not fit for the purpose intended.

In conclusion, I hope that officials such as Chairman Warsal go through the effort to actually pass the necessary legislation to bring the status offered up to international standards. They must also correct defects in statuses previously sold. It is heartening to see him engaging in side issues such as pricing and marketing. However, he really needs to focus on the heavy lifting involved in corrective legislation. Given the importance of the revenue generated by this program to a country devastated by both a typhoon and a pandemic-suppressed tourism industry, failure to make these corrections could be catastrophic – to many both inside and outside the country.

More From Reasonable Doubt

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David Lesperance is glad to see Chairman Warsal begin to tackle shortcomings in Vanuatu’s CIPs but points out that there’s more work to be done.

David Lesperance: Democrat Senators’ assertions notwithstanding, US citizens are renouncing citizenships at the mere prospect of wealth taxes.

Though poorly managed and structured, the CIP was a boon to the Cypriot economy. Michel de Martigny and David Lesperance offer a recipe for how to build back better.

 

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.

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The post Lesperance: It’s Time For Some Heavy Lifting in Vanuatu appeared first on Investment Migration Insider.

UK Tier 1 Investment Down 40% in 2020: Quick Vaccine Rollout and Brexit Expected to Drive Rebound in 2021

Today’s release of Q4 figures from the UK Office of National Statistics confirms what we predicted last week: The Tier 1 investor program’s approval volumes recorded a 40% year-on-year drop in 2020.

Only 52 main applicants, and 98 dependents, obtained investor visas in the UK during the October-November-December 2020 period. That represents a fall of nearly half compared to Q3.

For the year as a whole, the Home Office approved 216 main applicants, down from 360 in 2019. Presuming average investments of GBP 2 million per main applicant, the UK will have raised FDI worth GBP 432 million from the program during the year, although the true figure is likey 15-20% higher, as some applicants opt for the more expensive fast-track routes.

The largest source of investors in Q4 was Hong Kong, which contributed 10 of the 52 main applicants, followed by China (9), the United States (6), and Russia (5).

Rejection rates were also up considerably in 2020; 9% of applicants were turned away, compared to 4% in 2019.

The reduction in approvals is not limited to the Tier 1 investor category, explains Farzin Yazdi, Head of Investor Visa at London’s Shard Capital.

While investor visa issuances fell by 40%, “among all categories in the UK, there were just under one million visas granted in 2020, 69% fewer than the previous year,” he pointed out. Considering the harsh restrictions imposed on individuals and business in the UK during the last quarter of 2020 and the first quarter of 2021, Yazdi indicated that today’s low numbers are par for the course and that he expects a strong recovery.

“The decline,” remarked Yazdi, “is wholly expected and should surprise nobody. What’s more interesting at this stage is the road ahead through 2021.”

He highlighted the UK’s rapid vaccine rollout, the fastest among large countries, and said it would “resonate” with foreign investors. He also believes the now-completed departure from the European Union will work in the program’s favor.

“It’s now no longer possible to reside in the UK through EU treaty rights by acquiring an EU country’s citizenship, likely driving increased volumes of visa applications.”

A common theme in discussions of how the pandemic will change the investment migration market has been healthcare. Yazdi commented that he had observed concerns around healthcare and work practices take on a more salient role in the panoply of factors that motivate investors, but that conventional pull-factors remained at the forefront.

“The main motivation among Tier 1 (Investor) visa applicants is likely to still be education. As schools and, particularly, universities open up, we expect this to drive high volumes of demand among applicants. In short, despite a difficult 12 months, the UK continues to represent an attractive destination for migrants and we expect a significant bounce back in visa issuances as the year progresses.”

More Intel & Data

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The UK Tier 1 Investor Visa ended 2020 40% below 2019. Farzin Yazdi offers three reasons the market will bounce back in 2021.

Though approval volumes were down across the board, the differences in performance varied sharply, from -4% to -92%.

Processing capacity has tumbled since the onset of the pandemic, but Australia has plans to make up for lost investment this year.

 

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?
Be the first in your company to know about breaking investment migration news; Get the most important stories delivered.

The post UK Tier 1 Investment Down 40% in 2020: Quick Vaccine Rollout and Brexit Expected to Drive Rebound in 2021 appeared first on Investment Migration Insider.

Health-Passports Part 2: CBI in a World Where Nationality Alone Doesn’t Determine Mobility


Due Process
With Michael Krakat

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


This article is a follow-up of to Health Passports Are Coming – What Does That Mean for Investment Migration?

This time, we are embarking on a discussion of the relationship between conventional passports and a new form of standardised health passports, with exceptional change and a new ordering on the horizon, depicted in the Natarja, Lord of the Dance as an aspect of the Hindu God Shiva. 

We need to ask whether these two concepts, conventional- and health-passports, are at all reconcilable.

On the one hand, there is randomly assigned (pandemic driven) global-individual health status. This status may result in a full or partial override of the quality and value of passports. After all, what is a passport worth if one cannot travel with it due to being barred for health-related risk assessments? 

These new differences between passport holders add to the complexity of what was already a difficult assessment, evidenced in different types of rankings and methodologies involved. 

Health-passports as prototype for global passports
Just as the spirit of humanity, global solidarity, as well as disasters such as climate change, the pandemic knows no borders. Their consequences and required action may, likewise, be superimposed and supra-national, pertaining to global health science as well as politics. Are pandemic passports effectively overcoming the value of actual passports, overwriting all conventional criteria with what effectively amounts to emergency rule beyond any one nation-state? May the pandemic passport even act as a blueprint for a global passport, or global citizenship?  

The actual question may be whether fragmentation in the ways to address the crisis, that is, multiple vaccines and government policies as to distancing, etc. are already resulting in classes of pandemic modifications to passports’ power. In other words, are there now different classes of global mobility emerging due to different status of formal and material health? With formal health, I mean the formal requirements, such as having overcome the disease or holding vaccination. With actual material health, I mean whether one is actually sick or not. Alone from this distinction flows a plethora of differing evaluations on health and, thus, on mobility. 

For example, two passport holders of the same nation may be treated differently at the world’s airports depending on health criteria, and at differing times, as the health requirements are constantly in a state of flux, with new strains discovered at random times. Health passports may have, albeit with benevolent intention and in the spirit of crisis response, dramatic consequences on actual passports, creating complexity and indeterminacy. They may either form a temporal emergency measure with a clear sunset application as to time, or, they should be referenced against clear and fixed global standards.  

What could these standards be? The power over the definition of passports, their legal-, economic- and other perimeters (such as for visa-free travel so negotiated) has so far been in the sole hands of governments, a monopoly stemming from power, politics and the law. In any case, there is no global ‘regulator’ of citizenship at this time (such as any citizenship of the United Nations), but there are global paradigms that could lead to a global citizenship from the ground up, complementary to that of the nation state.  

What health-passports mean for CBI
In the case of Citizenship by Investment (CBI), arguably, that power already experienced some effective shift. It has been subjected to the partial co-determination by global markets, market rule and –logic over the metes and bounds of the necessities pertaining to citizenship law. That type of law has so far been at the inner core of the nation-state, inward-facing. Now, it is coming from an additional supra-national mercantile perspective in addition to the municipal-national polity, functioning as both outcome and driver of globalization, new nationalisation, and – in our post-globalisation era – fragmentation and indeterminacy. 

A cynic may remark that the bottom line of CBI is that different states are to exist, if only for the diversity of passports on a global market for membership entitlements.

At least, price-based CBI has increasingly been coming with some form of certainty and has perhaps even acted as a grand equalizer and leveller of travel- and strategic relocation-based mobility. It has most certainly re-introduced to the world of nation-states a concept of options and diversification: In theory, anyone could purchase passports, absent any substantive criminal record. 

Price, as such, does not discriminate against the person, no matter one’s heritage, religion, skin colour, or other factors. Of course, the often substantial prices may form a hurdle to be overcome. The world, itself, is yet not perfectly equal and everything, so it would appear, has at least a nominal price and could be commoditized. At least, there is room for CBI’s growth and innovation, such as with crowdfunding or government loans.

The private sector’s new role as supra-national regulator
The demarcations between the public and the private are further shifting, especially so with public and private players on the borders of passports and pandemic health science. 

Where the journey of CBI will go is not yet clear, but the changes now triggered by health related factors and additions to passports should spark an urgent discussion about the passport’s use and nature within the global bordered paradigm. The demarcations of citizenship as meta-right are not yet so fragmented that the public-private sector would be able to sell separately, say, any rights so far bundled under the umbrella of citizenship.

Severable rights could include the right to safe residence, political protection, or visa-free travel through separate letters, certificates, or ad-hoc contracts for travel so negotiated between countries or between countries and corporations. Citizenship may even be broken down into actual, tradeable social credit points. There is nothing that cannot be sold or even re-sold, as a price can be assigned to any concept of market value. Decentralized blockchain ledgers may become utilized to create peer-to-peer ‘citizenship’ from the ground up.  

In any case, the boundaries between the public and the private are further dissolving: Private corporate health, as appointed and negotiated by governments, the European Commission, or the WHO, is effectively redefining the metes and bounds of passports at this time, leading to further metamorphosis of the concept of citizenship.

There is no common standard: COVID vaccinations are at this time offered by different producers, with various percentages of efficiency and protection, their availability depending on countries’ negotiations and their effect on the actual science and real-life outcomes. For example, Germany’s governmental vaccination commission (the ‘Ständige Impfkommission’ (Stiko) is creating different age brackets, effectively amounting to a somewhat random two-class-vaccine program, each class assigned with different types of vaccines: Those younger than 65 years are said to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, those older the BioNtech one. With health parameters attached, this could turn the German Passport into a dual – (or plural) passport class system. 

Different classes of vaccines could effectively mean different categories of acceptance in travel by different polities as well as corporate airlines and NGO’s, in addition to the actual ‘value’ of one’s passport for visa-free travel. 

Residence- and citizenship by investment (RCBI) just became more indeterminate. However, this indeterminacy may be contained: The COVID related (and perhaps further upcoming) health related differences in persons, not their passports, may now globally become reflected in a more streamlined forum:  

Private-public arrangements for travel, such as through IATA and individual airlines now effectively require vaccination status. At the same time, governments cannot readily supply equal standards of vaccination, whilst travel is about to return, whether in a streamlined or fragmented fashion. 

Passport, tickets, wallet, vaccine certificate
The role of the travel industry as innovators and forerunners does not surprise in that the virus’ spread may be linked to international travel. The International Transport Association (IATA) is an agency that counts as members around 300 airlines worldwide. IATA acts in accordance with the United Nations’ International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), which sets international standards for air travel, hence, in relation to a supra-national if not global public sphere.

IATA’s health passport is called IATA Travel Pass and could be ready shortly. It is reported that Panamanian Copa Airlines will partner to trial the IATA Travel Pass in Latin America. Likewise, Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Etihad have announced their intentions to launch the app. IATA introduced this as a global and standardized solution to validate and authenticate all country regulations regarding COVID-19 passenger travel requirements.

It will incorporate open-sourced and interoperable modules, such as Travel Pass, as a form of digital identity, as well as a platform to upload health-related certificates, test- and vaccination records, acting as a global registry. This approach is in addition to the European Commission exploring proposals to introduce vaccine passports or with British Airways and American Airlines launching its ‘Verifly Health Passport’.

Conventional passports are national concepts. Health-passports, however, appear as not merely international creations between nations but, indeed, as global-supranational concepts, with governments supporting ICAO and ICAO creating policy that applies to all private travellers. A traveller is still a national of some country, and the circle closes here. Partially through the law of contract, that traveller, effectively, becomes co-governed to a certain extent by way of supra-national regulation.

Corporate private as well as government run airlines and the United Nations’ ICAO, are supra-national, beyond the law of any one jurisdiction. This may mean the emergence of some type of new global soft law and policy, of actual written as well as perhaps unwritten supranational law in form of a new Code of Travel. This is not international law, as it is not about the law between nations, but between nations and corporate service providers as well as supra-national regulators.  

Health-passports offer predictability but also shift regulatory power toward private companies
This conceptual backdrop would need to translate into actual, global safety. The effects on individual global mobility are yet not clear. Where health concerns are now linked with rights to travel borders, we may be experiencing fragmentation and indeterminacy, witnesses a new era of ‘enhanced’ local-global passports, born from the ashes of a failing, frail bordered paradigm, surpassed by the actual necessities of human health. The upcoming changes in passports referenced against borders may amount to one of humanity’s greatest challenges as well as a chance to grow. The new health passports may have become what Giorgo Agamben (in the seminal work of ‘Homo Sacer’) thought about as bare or naked life and new conceptions on top of an outmoded order. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, travel markets are volatile. They can change or shut-down at any time, and for an indeterminate time, placing an unprecedented level of uncertainty on all stakeholders, including travellers and airlines. In this regards, the new measures are making sense.

At the same time, airlines are not democratically elected governments. They are mostly of private-sector status. They are much more flexible as well as experimental in their proposed or existing regulation and private corporate governance of travel, effectively requiring governments to follow the newly established industry standards or be left out of the new world of freedom to travel.

This is another supra-national aspect of the coming global mobility, no longer exclusively at the behest of states. Governments may become restricted from suggesting what effectively amounts to the coming health standards for accepted travel. These new measures may be effective but may pose various issues, such as in regards to privacy laws. These would need to be addressed urgently to make the system work and gain acceptance. IATA promises that there will be no central database or data repository storing the information, with travellers in control of their information, which appears as an important starting point to safely and humanely reconnecting the world. 

The world of CBI passports may now face a profound re-definition from the perspective of health. Conventional passports mean a status that is somewhat fixed, reinstated, or updated every couple of years, attached to a nationality/citizenship, which is normally not constantly changing, even in the case of cash for passports. As we know, one’s health may change on a daily basis, something one can only influence to a certain degree.

We are entering a period of time, perhaps an age, of indeterminacy as to travel, where exceptionality has become the new norm, and the power of the state over the concept of citizenship, and the relevance of that concept, has further faded, possibly, demarking the beginning of the end of the relevance of conventional passports and, perhaps, of a metamorphosis of the idea of political-legal membership. 

More from Due Process

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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.

Legal scholar Michael Krakat outlines the five legal consistencies that must exist for an investment migration program to remain sustainable.

 

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.

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The post Health-Passports Part 2: CBI in a World Where Nationality Alone Doesn’t Determine Mobility appeared first on Investment Migration Insider.

How to Choose the Right Fund for the Portugal Golden Visa

 

The fund option sounds more complex, more confusing, and scarier than the good old real estate option. That much is true.

As more investors are turning to the fund investment option, their unanswered question is “How will I know if the fund I chose is the right investment for me?”

We learned key lessons about vetting funds, while analyzing over 25 funds and jumping into countless investor calls for Portuguese Golden Visa’s increasingly popular fund option.

I will summarize them in this article on How to Choose the Right Fund for a Golden Visa in Portugal.

Things to Consider before Investing in a Portuguese Golden Visa Fund

Whenever we are vetting a fund for any of our clients, we have a long list of due diligence items we check off.  We will give a glimpse of some of the essentials below: 

Fund Strategy
Funds focus on a wide variety of investment types. These include start-up companies in different industries, real estate investments, yield-generating assets, or even commodities.

You will see that most fund options available in the market have a real estate focus, though.

Based on the fund’s investment strategy, you should assess the below aspects: 

  • Location or Specialization:
    • If real estate; does the fund invest in assets in primary locations, gentrifying areas, regional diversification, or strategic locations nearby a new hospital, airport, etc.?
    • If startup companies; is there a sectoral vertical the fund will concentrate on? What funding stage will the target companies be in; angel, Series A, B, C?
  • Target Return
    • What is the expected Internal Rate of Return (IRR) of the fund? 
    • Are they planning on distributing annual dividends?
  • Target Commitment:
    • How much is the fund trying to raise? Does it sound realistic?
  • Fees:
    • Is there a subscription fee?
    • What is the annual management fee?
    • At the exit, what performance fee will the fund manager charge investors?
    • Are there any other hidden fees you should be aware of?
  • Portfolio Diversification
    • Does the fund make risk diversification through a balanced portfolio selection?
  • Exit Strategy: What is the exit strategy of the fund? 

Make sure and ask about the investor profile in the fund pipeline.

You might not be familiar with all the above factors. In that case, comparing different fund options will give you a better understanding of available opportunities in the market. 

You may consult your independent advisor whether the strategy makes sense based on the market conditions. 

Fund Lifecycle
Before investing in a fund, you need to know how long your money will be locked in for.

  • Learn about these critical dates: 
    • CMVM registration
    • End of the subscription period
    • Fund closing / maturity date
  • Does the fund have any potential extension period? 
    • Unlike real estate, you are not the sole decision-maker for the fund. You need to learn if and for how long the fund manager can extend the fund duration.

It’s always useful to ask how much capital is raised so far, in order to see if it is realistic to reach their target capital within the subscription period.

Fund Manager and Fund Advisor 
The fund manager and advisor will be in the driver’s seat until the fund reaches maturity.  You will rely on them to enjoy a comfortable ride as a passenger.

So, it is absolutely crucial to check their credentials.

For more details, you can check out the comprehensive guide on the Golden Visa program in Portugal.

How do I make sure I don’t lose money investing in a Portuguese GV fund?

Evaluate the fund manager’s market knowledge rather than its track record

The Portugal Golden Visa risk fund investment option was amended from €500,000 to €350,000 in 2017.  The first qualifying risk funds started popping up in the market in 2019.  With that, it is hard to find much of a track record with any of these funds.  That’s why you should evaluate the fund advisor or manager based on their market know-how and past experience.

It’s always useful to arrange a face-to-face meeting with the fund manager or advisor and ask all your questions. Remember, “there’s no such thing as a stupid question”.

See if they give you confidence with their background and their fund management capabilities. 

Needless to say, having an independent professional review the fund options alongside you will save you time, money, and lots of potential headaches.

Do your interests as the investor match those of the fund manager?

Make sure that the fund manager and the fund advisor share the same incentives with you. Most of the time, the fund manager will have a hefty performance fee at the exit.  This fee will be a percentage of the potential profit.

This is actually a fair structure.  This means that the more profit the fund ultimately realizes, the more the fund manager will go home with. It will incentivize the manager to maximise the profits.

Two important tips here:

  • Practice What They Preach
    • Do the fund managers or fund advisors also shoulder responsibility by investing their own money into the fund? It’s not a must, but a great show of confidence when those in charge of running the show also expose themselves to the downside risks of capital loss. 
  • From One Pocket to Another
    • It is common to have real estate developers as fund advisors behind some of these funds.  In those cases, make sure that the developer is not stuffing the fund portfolio with the properties they developed.  Selling their own properties into the fund may mean they are merely liquidating their own properties with the fund they raised from you.
    • This is not a complete red flag, the properties they developed may actually be right for the fund in light of the fund strategy.  Though, it is something to look out for and analyze carefully.

Assess the Risk-Return Profile
The risk-return profile of a fund varies according to its market exposure and portfolio diversification. You should be well aware of your risk appetite and if the corresponding fund fits it. 

If you are looking to preserve your capital and not lose money, that means you are risk averse. In that case, you may look for funds that prioritize protecting investor’s capital. There are some funds in the market that are designed explicitly for Golden Visa investors carrying low to medium risk with low to medium expected returns. Moreover, investing in funds backed by real estate is generally considered a safer option because of the lower capital risk.

If you are in it to earn big or go home, then risk is practically your middle name. In that case, you may want to focus on funds that target startups or other ventures.

How will the Portugal Golden Visa Rule Changes affect the Fund Option?

There were tons of rumours floating around about the changes to the Portugal Golden Visa rules. In February 2021, the wait was over and the verdict came in.

There is not much of a surprise as far as the real estate restrictions.

As for the Portuguese Golden Visa fund option, there will be an increase in the minimum investment for the fund subscription from €350,000 to €500,000.

Well, whether we like it or not, that is the hand we are served. 

Luckily, the change will only come into effect on January 1st, 2022. At least we have the rest of 2021 to capitalise on the €350,000 option.  Let’s make the best of it.

Is the Fund option popular?
In short, yes.

Since the option was amended in 2017, lowered from €500,000 to €350,000, it gathered lots of attention.  In 2020, the fund option accounted for 4% of the Golden Visa investments. In other words, the number of Golden Visa applicants that chose to go ahead with a fund investment increased almost 6-fold compared to 2019.

Can any Portuguese Fund qualify you for a Golden Visa?
No, not quite. It needs to be a Fundo de Capital de Risco, in other words, a Capital Risk Fund.

What on earth is a risk fund? Well, some of the more distinctive requirements of these funds are, they have:

  • The portfolio must be diversified; no single asset, company, or equity can account for more than ⅓ of the complete portfolio,
  • The investor individual must be a savvy investor
  • The fund cannot guarantee a stable dividend, like a government bond would

Are the Funds Safe to Invest in?
Any fund in Portugal must comply with the Portuguese Securities Market Commission (CMVM) rules, which means that the fund is regularly audited by third parties.

Having said that, it is very important to assess the investment strategy of the fund and the track record of the fund managers.

These are risk funds after all. They do not and cannot guarantee your capital. Ultimately, you need to assess that yourself.  Preferably, with an experienced independent advisor.

About Get Golden Visa
Get Golden Visa is a full-service investment immigration agency.  We provide end-to-end solutions on residence and citizenship by investment programs in numerous countries worldwide.

Through our local offices in Portugal, we were involved in Portugal Golden Visa’s investment fund option long before it was initially amended from €500,000 to €350,000.  Over the last couple of years, we helped numerous investors from more than twelve countries choose the right fund and obtain their Golden Visa in Portugal.

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

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Caribbean: EU Adds Dominica to Tax Blacklist, Bermuda Introduces $2.5m Golden Visa

Back in black
In this week’s biannual update to its tax haven blacklist, the European Council has decided to include Dominica and acquit Barbados.

“The list,” writes the European Council in its press release, “includes jurisdictions worldwide that either have not engaged in a constructive dialogue with the EU on tax governance or have failed to deliver on their commitments to implement the reforms necessary to comply with a set of objective tax good governance criteria. These criteria relate to tax transparency, fair taxation and implementation of international standards designed to prevent tax base erosion and profit shifting.”

Dominica, in plainer terms, is either not taxing its residents at levels with which the European Council is satisfied or not sharing as much information as the Council would like.

See also: Rogers: EU/OECD’s Real Concern About CIPs Is Tax Competition, Not “Good Governance” – Part 1

Barbados, meanwhile, has been removed from the blacklist, pending a “supplementary review by the Global Forum”. In the meantime, the country has been moved to a “State-of-Play” document, something akin to a grey-list for countries that, while still not fully compliant with EU demands, have made “sufficient commitments to implement tax good governance principles.” The Council has now removed Morocco, Namibia, and Saint Lucia from that grey-list following their fulfillment of prior commitments to the Council but has also added Jamaica.

RBI-in-the-sky
Bermuda will launch a residency by investment program on March 1st, according to the British Overseas Territory’s Minister of Labor, Jason Hayward.

A minimum investment of US$2.5 million in real estate, businesses, or government bonds, or a donation of the same amount to either the Bermuda Trust Fund or a local charity, will grant the investor and his/her family a five-year residence permit in Bermuda. Successful applicants would receive an Economic Investment Certificate, which would remain valid as long as the investment is maintained. Following the initial five-year period, the investor and family would be eligible for permanent residency.

The scheme will replace an existing residency by investment program that had targeted the “globally retired”, essentially retirees of independent means, who were barred from working in Bermuda. The new scheme will permit the investor and any family members to work in the business in which they have invested, though it was not immediately clear whether they would be permitted to take up paid employment in the general labor market.

“These individuals and their families have the means to make significant financial investments, develop businesses, and create job opportunities, which can benefit Bermudians,” said Labor Minister Hayward. “Bermuda must take advantage of these opportunities.”

Sharing his reaction to the story on Twitter, long-time investment migration practitioner and frequent commenter Philippe May of Arton Capital pointed out that the $2.5 million price tag jars with prevailing market rates.

“An unrealistic, overpriced residence program comes up in Bermuda. Why would you invest $2.5m there if you can get a PR for less than a third in Bahamas or even citizenship for less than 10% in an OECS country?”

More From the Caribbean

Post Grid lazy load

Dominica is back on the European Council’s blacklist of tax havens. Bermuda is opening a pricey residency by investment program.

It is difficult to recall life before the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the globe. Unless you’re in Cayman Islands, that is.

The number of crypto-millionaires grew 10x in the last year. Most of them can’t realize their gains without triggering a taxable event.

 

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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Life in the Cayman Islands: Pristine Beaches, Robust Infrastructure And a COVID-Free Community

 

It is difficult to recall life before the COVID-19 pandemic ravaged the globe; exhausting lockdowns, vigorous social distancing guidelines, continuous mask-wearing, and a relentless dependence on online services shape-shifted our lives and made them unrecognisable. Unless you’re in the Cayman Islands, that is. 

While this group of islands in the Western Caribbean is considered one of the most attractive places in the world, we won’t bore you talking about its crystal-clear waters, sandy beaches, luxury resorts, sunny tropical climate, or its world-class cuisine; Google Images and YouTube do that for us. The true allure of the Cayman Islands is its high standard of living.

Cayman International School, Grand Cayman

One of the safest and easiest places to live in the world, let alone the Caribbean, the Cayman Islands serve as a microcosm of how the world could be. Its infrastructure is second to none, its economic landscape is bustling and residents are accomplished and educated. 

A COVID-free safe haven
In the atrocious year of 2020 the Cayman Islands proved to be much more than just an aesthetically pleasing economic power hub; it arose as a safe haven in a world gripped by fear. The Cayman Islands’ handling of the pandemic was steady, decisive and timely. The British Overseas Territory has only had 416 cases since the beginning of the outbreak, the majority of which were managed in quarantine facilities and as such local transmission has not occurred since July 2020.

Due to robust quarantine measures and safety protocols for returning residents, the community itself largely has no social distancing regulations, imposed lockdowns, or mask-wearing (except in healthcare facilities). The population is living life as it was intended; free of constraints. 

Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman

Successfully containing the virus
One may argue that islands had an easier task when it came to imposing travel bans and containing the spread of the virus, which, to some extent is true. Yet the Cayman Islands exceeds that perceived notion; comparing it to other islands such as the Bahamas (8,311 cases) or Malta (20,047 cases) among many others, it shows the adeptness of the Cayman Islands in handling the pandemic.

This is in no way an indictment of other countries, rather a commendation of the extraordinary competence of the Cayman Islands in handling a global pandemic that other nations could not contain. It is an accolade of awareness, capability, and efficient management and cooperation of both the government and residents that has made the Cayman Islands one of the most sought-out locales in a COVID world. Those with those with the resources to do so are flocking to Cayman from all around the globe. 

The Cayman Islands continues to thrive
The islands have one of the highest GDPs per capita in the world at US$85,975 (more than double that of France), which is mainly derived from financial services. 

The Peninsula Estate, Grand Cayman

The Cayman Islands perfected balancing between economic sustainability and the health of its locals. Cayman was able to avoid an economic catastrophe and maintain the wellbeing of its population through diligent planning and execution of preventive measures.  

The excellent handling of the pandemic is not the only reason the Cayman Islands is considered one of the best places in which to live, either. 

Access to quality healthcare and education

  • Through a comprehensive and expertly maintained infrastructure, its residents are set for life when it comes to the essentials. The Cayman Islands has 4.5 doctors per 1,000 residents, nearly double the figure of the United States, and have the medical institutions capable of delivering the best healthcare services possible, including the state-of-the-art Health City Cayman Islands facility. Its education system is also top-notch, as Cayman has a choice of excellent secondary schools, some that follow the British system (GCSEs and A-levels) as well as Cayman International School, which delivers the IB Diploma. Cayman’s proximity to the USA means its residents have a portal to the entire world for higher education via a 70-minute flight to Miami. 

A superior business landscape

  • Its business landscape also proves unmatchable, with some of the best financial and professional institutions in the world having large offices in Cayman, these include Royal Bank of Canada, Scotiabank, EFG, Bordier, KPMG, EY, Deloitte and PWC. Doing business in the Cayman Islands is simple, efficient, and most importantly, cost-effective due to the its tax-neutral status. There are no income, inheritance, corporate, capital gains, direct sales or recurring property taxes. Include the fact that the country has no imposed lockdowns or restrictions due to coronavirus, it is largely business as usual on these Caribbean islands. 

High standard of living

  • As Cayman provides one of the best quality of living standards, made possible by attracting the best the world has to offer, it is attractive to those seeking to live there full time. Through the Cayman Islands’ residency-by-investment (RBI) programs, the Certificate for Persons of Independent Means which requires a real estate investment of US$1.2 million and the Certificate of Permanent Residence for Persons of Independent Means which entails a US$2.4 million property investment; the Cayman Islands have a direct and simple route for high-net-worth individuals who wish to not only grow their investment but obtain a second home in one of the best liveable countries in the world. 
Kimpton Seafire Resort and Residences, Grand Cayman

For more information about securing residency in the Cayman Islands contact Sue Nickason, VP Marketing and Sales at Provenance Properties, the official Christie’s Real Estate affiliate in the Cayman Islands. The simplest and quickest path to permanent residency in the Cayman Islands is through the purchase of developed real estate valued at US$2.4 million or higher. For example, purchasing this three-bedroom luxury beach home at The Residences at Seafire qualifies buyers to apply for Cayman Islands residency if all requirements are met. The Provenance Properties team has a wide range of listings available to help satisfy this requirement while finding your ideal home.

It has been a long time since a business meeting started with a handshake or a family gathering was adorned by hugs, unless, of course, you are in the Cayman Islands.

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

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The Crypto-HNWI Frontier Market: 144,000 Overnight Millionaires Need New Tax Residencies

Opinion of the editor


Imagine it’s 2015.

You’re a 20-something recent graduate, just starting out in your professional career with barely a nickel to your name and a starting salary of $30,000. Listening to a podcast on your lunch-break, you hear about something called cryptocurrency, a new technology that promises to liberate humanity from the yoke of central banking and fiat money. “Tall order,” you sardonically conclude at first. But maybe – just maybe – it could work if enough people bought into the idea. You decide to look into it.

Over the course of two weeks of research, you gradually come to the realization that this new technology really is revolutionary. Some luminary has created a new form of reserve currency that is more limited, durable, portable, and fungible than even gold. You learn that there will never be more than 21 million bitcoin.

Having only recently started your career, your savings account has only a modest balance of $5,000. In a few years, you reflect, that won’t seem like such a big amount. Furthermore, you reason, the only way to create a large fortune in a single generation is to take large risks. You have nothing to lose except $5,000. You are young; you’ll make it back.

So, you cast the proverbial die.

You convert the entirety of your savings account to bitcoin. 20 of them, to be precise, as that’s all your pitiful account balance will permit.

For the next six years, you do nothing about your bitcoins. Instead, you focus on building a career, the contributor to your net worth over which you have the most control. The price movements of virtual money, after all, have an external locus of control; no use focusing on what you can’t influence.

Windfall
One Sunday morning in February 2021, as you’re browsing Twitter from your bed, a headline catches your eye: “Bitcoin Price Hits Historic $50,000”. At this moment, it dawns on you.

You are a millionaire. You are a High Net Worth Individual. You are the 1%.

More importantly, you were right. The series of letters and digits that the “experts” said was “based on nothing” and of utility mainly for money launderers and drug dealers have catapulted the value of your portfolio by 19,900%. Your banker uncle, who in 2015 disabused you of your youthful naïveté and sophomoric ideas of the future of currency by patiently explaining “how money works in the real world” now has to sit through company-mandated crypto seminars.

The politicians, at first, ignored crypto. Then they laughingly dismissed it as not being “real” money. Then they tried to fight it with laws. But now, finally, crypto is winning. The very same institutions that financed the politicians’ campaigns are converting parts of their cash-equivalents to bitcoin and ether. The “power behind the power” now has skin in the crypto game, which means the politicians they sponsored (the public face of power) will not try to kill the technology.

Now that politicians, despite their best efforts, must begrudgingly acknowledge that crypto is real, valuable, and here to stay, they want their “fair share”. They took no risks with their savings accounts but they want a sizable chunk of your gains nonetheless, usually in the form of capital gains tax and sometimes even VAT.

Prior to 2017, your net worth had never exceeded $20,000. Now, you could sell your crypto for a million dollars but, if you do that, you’ll have to part with several hundred thousand dollars (depending on where you are a tax resident), more money than you have ever made in your day job. If the price of bitcoin grows ten-fold again within the next five years, you’ll have to part with millions of dollars in capital gains tax.

Salvation
But there is, you learn, an alternative. The tax authorities of many countries around the world, including some large and advanced ones like Germany, Portugal, Switzerland, and Malaysia have decided to treat cryptocurrency as, well, currency, rather than as a commodity or security, which means you can buy and sell it without paying taxes.

To enjoy those tax benefits, you come to understand, it will be necessary for you to actually move to another country and become a tax resident there. If you’re an American (which many of the newly minted crypto-millionaires doubtless are) you’ll additionally have to give up your citizenship to fully extricate yourself from tax obligations on your crypto earnings, and you must do it before the balance of your account exceeds $2 million as, otherwise, you’d need to pay an exit tax upon tax emigration.

In brief, you’ll need a residence permit in a country that doesn’t tax crypto earnings and (if you’re an American) another citizenship as well. And you need it yesterday.

In many cases, that means you’ll need the services offered by the fast-growing investment migration industry.

How many crypto-millionaires are there?
Just like the price of cryptocurrencies, the number of crypto-millionaires swells and contracts with astonishing volatility but, over time, it is going up.

At the moment, there is no way to precisely measure the number of crypto-millionaires. But there is at least one decent metric by which it can be roughly estimated: The number of crypto-addresses with a balance exceeding US$1 million.

In February last year, there were about 11,000 million-dollar-plus bitcoin-addresses. That isn’t the same as saying there were 11,000 bitcoin millionaires; several of the million-dollar addresses may belong to a single person and therefore reduce the number of millionaires but, vice versa, one person may have four accounts with $250,000 in each and thus not be counted as a millionaire. In any case, the number of crypto-accounts worth more than a million is an acceptable shorthand for the number of crypto millionaires.

As of Feb 20th, 2021, more than 103,000 bitcoin addresses have a balance in excess of $1 million. That’s an almost ten-fold increase in a single year.

And that only counts bitcoin addresses. We don’t know exactly how many alt-coin addresses are worth a million or more but, for the last few years, BTC has made up between 50 and 70 percent of aggregate cryptocurrency market capitalization. If we assume BTC dominance at 60%, then, using bitcoin as a proxy, we can estimate that the number of alt-coin accounts worth a million or more is about 40% of the equivalent number for BTC. That would imply that there are roughly 144,000 million-dollar-or-more crypto accounts overall.

One crucial metric that investment migration executives consider when deciding on which markets to focus their marketing and expansion plans is the number of HNWI residents. If Crypto were a country, its HNWI population would rank 29th in the world, just behind Saudi Arabia and ahead of Israel.

And that is just today. If the price of bitcoin goes up by another order of magnitude in the next few years, we’ll have million-and-a-half crypto millionaires, a HNWI population greater than India, the UAE, and Hong Kong combined.

Many of these crypto-millionaires will have a story similar to the one described above: For the first time in their lives, they have some serious shekels, and they’re not about to just hand over a quarter of it if there are alternatives. Thanks to investment migration, there are alternatives. These overnight millionaires have upwards of 80% of their portfolios allocated to crypto and can trade it from anywhere. They’re not tied to any particular geographic location.

Investment migration firms that can provide viable solutions for this demographic stand to benefit tremendously, especially if they can structure products that resolve the typical challenges these crypto-millionaires have.

The challenges idiosyncratic to crypto-millionaires include:

  • How do I relocate to a country that doesn’t impose capital gains tax or VAT on crypto-sales?
  • How do I document my source of funds?
  • How do I pay for my qualifying investment with cryptocurrency?
  • How do I conclusively cut the tax-ties with my current country of residence?

The crypto-millionaire segment will become an enormous market unto itself. Start preparing today.

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.

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Becoming Global Leader of IM Industry Is “Our Primary Objective”: 10 on the Weekend – Mimoun Assraoui

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 Mimoun Assraoui of RIF Trust and Latitude.


How do you spend your weekends?
Like everyone, my weekends have drastically changed since the onset of COVID and even more so since the arrival of our daughter, Aida. Most of our spare time is spent with family and friends. When we are not in Dubai, we “staycation” around the neighboring Emirates. We like to head to Fujairah to escape the city and scuba dive, read, and enjoy the delicious Dibba oysters.   

Mr. Assraoui graciously provided photographic evidence of his weekend activities.

What are your top three business goals this year?
As a group, we emerged stronger from the COVID crisis and have ambitious targets set for this year. As your readers know, global uncertainty drives our business and there has certainly been a lot of uncertainty over the last 12 months! We will continue to expand our international network, which is already 80 staff and 17 offices strong, with emphasis on new markets in Africa, Asia, CIS countries, and even the Americas. 

Our goal is to become the international leader of our industry and, with our current growth rate, we think we can achieve that status in very short order. We want to keep developing and winning mandates in our three market segments: B2C, B2B, and Government Advisory. We like to surround ourselves with like-minded colleagues and partners that help push our industry forward and bring innovative solutions to our esteemed clients. 

What’s your biggest business concern right now?
One of my biggest concerns is what I call the “kamikaze players” that operate in our industry and are desperate for business and will say or do anything to retain a client and keep afloat. They are a real and present danger to our industry. 

However, thankfully, most clients are smart and do their own due diligence before retaining a firm. In addition, the various CIUs are taking actions to limit such behavior, including blacklisting these kamikaze companies and implementing new laws and regulations.    

Which book is on your night-stand right now?
One of the positive effects of COVID was finding more time to read. I read in French so I don’t forget the nuances of its rich vocabulary. I am currently reading Le Naufrage des Civilisations by Amin Maalouf, a French-Lebanese writer. I also like to read about politics and international affairs.       

How and when did you first get into the investment migration industry?
I myself am a product of immigration as my father immigrated from Morocco to France in the 1970s whereupon we joined him as a family in the ’80s. 

From a business perspective, I left the banking world in 2013 to set up RIF Trust. We were one of the first and more ambitious players in the UAE who benefited from this growing industry. We of course merged in 2018 with Latitude to become a more significant international player. The rest is history and I am very proud of what we have achieved over the last 8 years.

What was your proudest moment as a service provider?
Well, there are many in our eight-year history, but to name a few: 

  • Receiving an award from the Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis for the most files submitted during the Hurricane Relief Fund-period while, just a year previous, we were hardly processing any St Kitts and Nevis files at all.
  • Our merger with Latitude Consultancy, which brought two forward-thinking and like-minded organizations together.
  • We are very proud to be one of the very few companies licensed in all the programs we are offering.
  • Being nominated last year to be the Trade Commissioner for Vanuatu in the UAE by the new Vanuatu Government.

Which investment migration market development has surprised you the most in the last year?
There have been quite a few! I would say the success of Vanuatu as a program. It was virtually unknown three years ago and we were one of the first to promote it back then. Also, we have seen some positive developments in the Caribbean in terms of family pricing and the broadening of the definition of dependents. Lastly, the sudden decision to close the Cyprus citizenship program was unexpected so it was important for the industry to have Malta relaunch their version which we all know sets the platinum standard in due diligence for our industry. 

If you could go back 10 years in time, what business decision would you change?
It would be to start our journey two years earlier, in 2011. 

What investment migration industry personality do you most admire?
I have respect for the pioneers of our industry who showed us the way. We are lucky to have on our board some of the most respected and innovative veterans in our industry, including Eric Major and David Regueiro.

Our industry requires the support of governments and I admire the Prime Ministers who are backing their programs including Prime Ministers Roosevelt Skerrit and Timothy Harris, as well as the Heads of the CIUs, such as Les Khan and Emmanuel Nanthan. These gentlemen are always bringing innovative ideas to the table and pushing the CBI industry and other heads of CIU.

Finally, we could not do our job properly without the real estate developers collaborating with companies like ours and developing interesting projects for our clients to invest in. 

If all goes according to plan, what will you be doing five years from now?
I have my five year personal and professional goals, but typically approach things year by year and make the most of every situation. We saw that, with COVID, plans changed rapidly and we have adapted our strategy to come out of this crisis stronger both as individuals and as a group.  

Our primary objective is to be the leader of our industry and a firm that acts as a magnet for talented people who want to join a family of dedicated and like-minded members. 

More From 10 on The Weekend

Post Grid lazy load

Mimoun Assraoui and his colleagues aim to become the global IM industry leaders, a feat he believes they can achieve “in very short order”.

After raising $190m from investors migrating to the US, Rogelio Caceres is gearing up to meet the exploding demand in the opposite direction.

Pablo Ostrick says Jeffrey Henseler inspired him to join the IM industry, and most admires David Regueiro (but not because he is Spanish).

 

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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Europe’s Golden Visa Performance in 2020: A Mixed Picture

The pandemic’s effect on Europe’s residence by investment (golden visa) programs varied sharply in 2020. While the approval volumes for Portugal and Spain barely budged, the UK’s Tier 1 Investor Visa saw a significant drop, while Greece and Latvia cratered by some nine-tenths.

To compare the variation in 2020 performance among programs with different reporting schedules, we’ve calculated each program’s average monthly application approvals using the data that’s available. For Portugal, Greece, and Latvia, we already have full-year figures for 2020. In these instances, we have divided the full-year figure by 12 to arrive at a monthly average. For Spain and the UK, however, we only have figures for the first six and first nine months of 2020, respectively. In those instances, we have divided the total by six and nine to get a monthly average.

Portugal’s golden visa
Full year-figures for 2020, released last month, confirmed that interest in Portugal’s golden visa, as well as the country’s capacity to process applications, remained robust throughout 2020. Though the annual total approval numbers fell only 5% compared to the year before, 2020 saw considerable month-to-month fluctuation; the SEF approved only 50 applications in April but proceeded to set a new record with 270 applications in May. Throughout 2020, as the pandemic wreaked havoc on most of its neighbors, Portugal was largely spared the most paralyzing outbreaks. Since December, however, Portugal has been among the worst-hit countries in Europe and golden visa statistics now reflect that too.

Total main applicant approvals:

  • in 2019: 1,245
  • in 2020: 1,182

Average monthly main applicant approvals:

  • in 2019: 104
  • in 2020: 99

Year-on-year change: -4.8%

Spain’s golden visa
While we only have figures for the first half of Spain’s 2020 golden visa year, keep in mind that the brunt of lockdowns and deaths in the country came during those first six months. Despite crippling levels of hospitalizations, deaths, and restrictions, Spain approved 683 main applicants during the period. Part of this is attributable to legislation particular to Spain; residence permit applications to which the government provides no answer within 20 days are automatically approved, by default.

Total main applicant approvals:

  • in 2019: 1,422
  • in first six months of 2020: 683

Average monthly main applicant approvals:

  • in 2019: 119
  • in 2020: 114

Year-on-year change: -4.2%

Greece’s golden visa
In a parallel from the country’s mythological tales, the Greek golden visa program’s approval volumes had flown increasingly close to the sun in recent years, becoming Europe’s undisputed golden visa leader before the pandemic clipped the country’s FDI wings and sent approval volumes plunging. Some of Europe’s longest-lasting border restrictions, combined with (now mitigated) requirements for personal visits to the country, made successfully applying for Greek golden visas impossible for many investors 2020. Expect Greece to bounce back by this summer.

Total main applicant approvals:

  • in 2019: 3,504
  • in 2020: 403

Average monthly main applicant approvals:

  • in 2019: 292
  • in 2020: 34

Year-on-year change: -88.4%

UK Tier 1 Investor Visa
For the UK Tier 1 investor visa, we have approval volume data for three of four quarters in 2020. Because Britain imposed harsh lockdowns in December, the true 2020 performance of this program may be even worse in the final tally than what’s reflected in the preliminary data. By March, we’ll know.

Total main applicant approvals:

  • in 2019: 360
  • in first nine months of 2020: 164

Average monthly main applicant approvals:

  • in 2019: 30
  • in 2020: 18

Year-on-year change: -40%

Latvia’s investor visa
Latvia’s golden visa has been dying a slow death since 2015 and the pandemic appears to have put the final nail in its coffin; only 30 applicants were approved during all of 2020.

Total main applicant approvals:

  • in 2019: 368
  • in 2020: 30

Average monthly main applicant approvals:

  • in 2019: 31
  • in 2020: 2.5

Year-on-year change: -91.8%

Note: The authorities of the residency by investment programs of Malta and Ireland have decided not to publish their figures.

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Post Grid lazy load

Though approval volumes were down across the board, the differences in performance varied sharply, from -4% to -92%.

Processing capacity has tumbled since the onset of the pandemic, but Australia has plans to make up for lost investment this year.

As Portugal battles its first serious wave of infections, the country’s golden visa program is finally feeling the impact of the pandemic.

 

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The post Europe’s Golden Visa Performance in 2020: A Mixed Picture appeared first on Investment Migration Insider.