The massive volatility driven by Covid-19 has pushed the steady growth in investment migration into overdrive, with a nearly 50 per cent increase in enquiries in the first half of 2020, compared to the same period last year.
Due to the uncertain outlook of the Nigerian economy, clients are predominantly seeking alternative citizenship options to secure their wealth and their families’ future, with specific interest in Caribbean programs from Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis and Grenada.
Private investors who prefer to invest in Europe are attracted to Portugal’s residence-by-investment (RBI) program and Montenegro’s CBI program.
“The tumultuous events of 2020, including the unplanned pause during the Great Lockdown, have resulted in people from all walks of life re-evaluating their circumstances and reconsidering how they wish to conduct their lives and — for those fortunate enough — choosing where they want to live by opting for investment migration,” said Henley & Partners Director of Private Clients and Head of Nigeria Stuart Wakeling.
“Many are taking stock and ensuring they are better prepared for the next pandemic or major global disruption. The relentless volatility in terms of both wealth and lifestyle has resulted in a significant shift in how alternative residence and citizenship are perceived by high-net-worth investors around the world.”
In terms of the total number of enquiries made in the first six months of 2020, Indian nationals outstripped all other nationalities by a long stretch. Henley & Partners received 96.5 per cent more enquiries from Indian nationals than Nigerian nationals, who were placed second, followed by Pakistan and, startlingly, the US.
In terms of quarterly growth in the numbers of enquiries between Q1 and Q2 2020, the sharpest rise was seen in Nigeria. Henley & Partners recorded an astonishing 185 per cent increase in enquiries from Nigerian citizens between the first two quarters, and increases of 48 per cent, 46 per cent, and 40 per cent from South African, Pakistani, and Bangladeshi nationals, respectively, while the growth in enquiries from Indian nationals was an impressive 28 per cent — all on the back of healthy Q1 enquiry levels.
Perhaps the most remarkable Covid-related shift, however, was the huge spike in enquiries from Americans along with growing interest from Canadian and UK nationals.
Commenting in the recently released Henley Passport Index Q3 Report, Assistant Professor of Sociology at Tel Aviv University in Israel, Prof. Dr. Yossi Harpaz, says the Covid-19 crisis has caused the world’s premium passports to lose some of their shine.
“For decades, visa policies were designed to keep out illegal immigrants, asylum seekers, and terrorists. Citizens of wealthy and democratic countries — including Canada, the US, and Western European nations — apparently posed no such risks and enjoyed extensive visa-free travel throughout the world.
“In the current crisis, a new category of risk has emerged: the spreader. Since the US and Western Europe were among the world’s hardest hit areas, their citizens faced stringent mobility restrictions. This is, of course, a temporary situation, but in the long run it is likely to erode the prestige of EU and Western passports,” predicts Prof. Harpaz.
“Once ‘nice-to-have’ assets of convenience and privilege that enhanced travel freedom and provided vacation or second homes, alternative residence and citizenship have rapidly become ‘must-have’ essential assets, not just to survive, but to thrive in the 21st century,” says Henley & Partners Group Head of Sales Dominic Volek, who points out that 19 of the G20 nations offer some form of mechanism to encourage inward investment in exchange for residence rights. The 20th member is the EU, and 60 per cent of EU member states offer investment migration options.