WASHINGTON – The corona pandemic has limited travel activities. However, this is not the case with the super rich. They actually increase the activity of traveling across countries with the power of their money. This cannot be separated from the investment migration policy which is popular among people with deep pockets. The investment migration policy makes passport applications no longer based on citizenship, but wealth and the desire to always travel the world.
With the name citizen by investment program (CIP), these rich people can change nationalities by pocketing a gold visa. In the last five to ten years, those who have joined the CIP program generally have a net worth of USD2 million to over USD50 million for freedom of movement, tax benefits, and lifestyle factors such as education and civil liberties.
Recently, more and more rich people have been attracted to the CIP program due to pandemic factors. The first consideration is related to health services. Then, the response to the pandemic handling, and a new paradise for their future after the pandemic is over. “People wanted to get alternative citizenship and insurance policies so they developed Plan B,” Dominic Volek, head of global citizenship at the firm Henley & Partners, told CNN.
Super-rich people who change nationality also take into account a country’s preparedness for the pandemic. “The rich don’t plan to live 5-10 years, but they plan to live the next 100 years, to protect wealth and health,” continued Volek.
The CIP program is now experiencing a sharp increase due to the corona pandemic factor. Henley & Partners said that there was an increase of up to 49% where many rich people applied for consultations for the program.
Most of the wealthy have specific citizenship programs especially in Montenegro and Cyprus which are popular destinations. “A lot of the super rich are attracted to Cyprus and Malta because they can bring in families with unlimited access and freedom of residence in the European Union,” said Volek. In addition, they can also get freedom of movement and better education and health care than their former country.
In addition, citizenship programs in Australia and New Zealand are also in high demand. That’s because in these two countries, the management of the corona pandemic crisis is considered very good. “New Zealand ranks among the best countries for handling the pandemic than the UK and the United States,” said Volek. Many wealthy people have moved investment to Australia and New Zealand. Moreover, many rich people have also prepared plans to face the apocalypse in New Zealand.
How much investment should you spend? The rich have to spend up to USD 3.5 million (around IDR 50.4 billion) for the program in Australia, while New Zealand is more expensive at USD 6.5 million (around IDR 93.6 billion). “The New Zealand program is more flexible. For example, it can invest in agriculture or plantations. You can get the right place you want, “he explained.
So where do most of the CIP clients come from? They are generally citizens of the US, India, Nigeria, to Lebanon. The number of applicants from the US has increased to reach 700% in 2020 compared to 2019. Super-rich people from China and the Middle East are also starting to be interested in the program.
There are also many super rich people who are looking for remote and safe places for their families to be safe from the current pandemic, but also the pandemic that is coming. “Many small countries are much better at dealing with pandemics,” said Nuri Katz, international financial consultant at Apex Capital Partners.
Like the US, which is unable to cope with a pandemic, but small countries in the Caribbean such as Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda are even more successful in overcoming it. “Many small countries are more open and able to manage this pandemic better than large countries. They have better health care and lifestyles, “said Katz.
For countries in the Caribbean, CIP rates are not too expensive, ranging from USD1 million (around IDR14.4 billion) to USD10 million (around IDR144 billion). Many rich Bangladeshis who have the worst passports in the world choose the Caribbean country to get a passport and travel the world. If a rich person donates USD100,000 (approx. Rp1.4 billion) to the government of Antigua and Barbuda, his family will get a passport within four to six months.
Katz also said that investing in passports is an effort to deal with travel restrictions in the future. Cypriot passport holders can travel around the European Union when borders open.
“People are starting to think about securing their assets, including citizenship and getting the lifestyle they want,” he said. People can also freely roam Europe with the status of residents or citizenship.
Migration investment programs that offer residency and citizenship by investing in a country’s economy in property, job creation, infrastructure development or government bonds. CIP itself was introduced in 1984 in St Kitts and Nevis in the Caribbean. Then, many countries have implemented the program such as Austria, Cyprus, Malta, Moldova, St Lucia, Turkey, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Greece, Montenegro, and many other countries.
In 2017, 5,000 people obtained new citizenship through CIP. In 2020, around 25,000 people will join the program. However, Transparency International criticized the policy for selling Schengen visa-free access.
“A lot of the rich are using the program to carry out money laundering,” said Kate Hooper, policy analyst at Migration Policy. Many countries do not implement strict policies to select rich people who get the new citizenship program.
Then, George DeMartino, an international economist at the University of Denver, assessed that the CIP program only prolongs inequality and creates injustice. “Those who don’t have money don’t get that access,” he said.