Henley & Partners

Spike in Demand for Investment Migration Programs with Access to Top Healthcare.

The coronavirus pandemic has provoked a sharp increase in demand for alternative residence and citizenship among high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) globally, with access to first-class healthcare emerging as a major drawcard. We have seen a notable 49% leap in client enquiries between January and May 2020 compared to the same period last year. There is also an unprecedented and significant upturn in interest by Americans — with a 60% increase in enquiries from Q4 2019 to Q1 2020 — with the US being one of the countries hardest hit by COVID-19, and where the healthcare system has battled to cope with the pandemic.

The top citizenship programs in Europe in terms of the increase in the number of applicants between Q4 2019 and Q1 2020 are the Montenegro Citizenship-by-Investment Program (up 142%) and the Cyprus Investment Programme (up 75%). Acquiring citizenship of Cyprus enables investors and their families to live, work, or study anywhere in Europe – of significant interest for HNW Britons post-Brexit. This also appeals to applicants who are looking to secure safer futures for their families post COVID-19, with European countries such as Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, and Greece having managed the pandemic relatively well.

Most of the European countries hosting citizenship programs offer access to high quality healthcare, although not necessarily free or low-cost healthcare, with most HNW clients opting to go private to avoid waiting times. Generally, these countries prioritize and spend far more GDP on healthcare compared to clients’ countries of origin. According to the latest World Bank data, Malta spent 9.34% of GDP on healthcare, while Cyprus spent 6.68%, and Montenegro 6.8%. All three countries have managed the COVID-19 crisis efficiently, as evidenced by their extremely low infection and fatality rates, with Montenegro declaring itself as the first European country to be coronavirus-free towards the end of May and already welcoming tourists back into the country. By contrast, the World Bank reports that China spent 5.15% of GDP on healthcare, India 3.53%, Nigeria 3.76%, Russia 5.34%, and Vietnam 5.53%.

There has been a similar surge in interest in residence programs hosted by countries in Mediterranean Europe that have responded judiciously to the coronavirus pandemic and where infection numbers and death rates are comparatively low. We have seen an increase of 19% in applicants for the Portugal Golden Residence Permit Program between Q4 2019 and Q1 2020. Applications for Greece, which offers the Greece Golden Visa Program, and Cyprus, which has a residence program as well as a citizenship program, have also seen a marked increase, with both countries responding competently to the pandemic. The main drawcards of these programs are the prospect of a high quality of life, their affordability, and their pathway to citizenship of a European country after several years of residence. Portugal offers excellent public and private healthcare, and the World Bank reports that Portugal spent 8.97% of GDP on health, while Greece spent 8.04% and offers good healthcare in its large cities. Both countries responded well to the virus and have managed to keep fatality rates low.

By extending wealth planning and legacy management strategies to include investment migration, global investors are catalyzing the transition to new lives in countries of their choice that offer a better quality of life, where they feel more comfortable and secure, and where they envisage a future that is better aligned with their aspirations now and for generations to come.

In many respects, investment migration offers a win–win solution for global investors and sovereign states alike. In the post COVID-19 environment, as in the wake of previous disasters such as the 2008 financial crisis and devastating hurricanes in the Caribbean, residence and citizenship programs offer lifelines both for investors intending to futureproof their families and legacies, and for sovereign states in need of alternative revenue streams.

You can visit henleyglobal.com for more information about the different citizenship- and-residence-by-investment programme options or call us to arrange for a free consultation.