Albeit for differing reasons, nationals from the following 12 countries are increasingly considering Portugal, either as a “Plan B” or as a permanent new home.
Yet given the existence of international sanctions, it’s not a straightforward proposition for all nations…
1. AFGHANISTAN: The recent withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, combined with the government takeover by the Taliban, has triggered an exodus of politically moderate Afghan nationals, both as refugees and as immigrant investors.
The range of options for the latter grouping presently remain fairly limited: In recent years, the only Citizenship By Investment (CBI) Programs that have processed Afghan applicants have been those of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St Lucia and Vanuatu.
Yet increasingly, this is only the case for applicants who have held legal residency outside of Afghanistan for significant periods of time.
Antigua and Barbuda, for example, will only accept applications from Afghanistan citizens who have lived outside of the country for a minimum period of 10 years.
The Vanuatu CBI Program has issued investor citizenship to around 127 applicants – around 50 families – and only a small minority are understood to have been resident in Afghanistan.
In addition, moving funds out of Afghanistan without holding legal residency and a bank account abroad, remains challenging.
3. BELARUS: The increasingly unstable political situation in Belarus, combined with regional geopolitical threats and tensions with the EU, are increasingly compelling wealthy Belarusians to consider either second, back-up residencies, permanent settlement or Citizenship By Programs abroad.
While the exact number of participants in global RBI, CBI and passive income visa programs is unknown, our own enquiry volumes and those of other citizenship planning firms appear to be on the rise heading into 2022.
4. BRAZIL: The increasingly polarized nature of Brazilian politics, combined with the country’s disastrous handling of the Covid19 pandemic, is increasingly prompting high net worth Brazilians and those with sufficient means to seek back-up plans abroad.
Given that the country’s lingua franca is Portuguese, combined with the cultural ties between Brazil and Portugal, the latter is an obvious first option for Brazilians seeking to gain a foothold abroad.
Unsurprisingly the number of Brazilian applicants, as a percentage of total applicants, has been on the rise for both the Golden Visa and D7 Visa Programs.
5. HONG KONG: China’s steady encroachment on Hong Kong has resulted in a panicked spike in immigration and alternative citizenship enquiries throughout 2020 and 2021.
A number of global citizenship firms have even opened up offices in Hong Kong with a view to cash in on this market opportunity.
6. IRAN: The exceedingly poor quality of life, combined ongoing US sanctions, have been prompting affluent Iranians to leave their home country in significant numbers for at least the past decade.
Given said sanctions, however, the second residency and alternative citizenship options available to Iranian nationals remain limited going into 2022. In most cases, Iranians are required to have held legal residency outside of their home country for a minimum of 5 years in order to apply for CBI and Golden Visa type programs.
Expatriating funds from the country also remains a challenge in 2021.
7. IRAQ: Large scale emigration from Iraq has been an ongoing trend in the past decade. A lack of overall security, combined with a perceived lack of opportunity, has seen large numbers of Iraqis move to Europe, both as refugees and as investor migrants.
However, given the extensive sanctions implemented against the country, Iraqi nationals seeking to acquire second citizenship by investment have exceedingly limited options going into 2022.
In most instances, their eligibility for CBI Programs consequently depends on them having held legal residency outside of Iraq for a significant period of time.
8. KUWAIT: Kuwait is a country of which the workforce is comprised mainly of expats. Yet a recent draft bill introduced by their government, which seeks to cut the expat population from 70% down to 30%, has thousands of expats there looking for viable alternatives elsewhere.
More than 56,000 expats have left Kuwait in the first half of 2021 alone, and the trend looks set to continue. While many of these expats are finding their way to Dubai, the number of RBI and CBI enquiries from this expat population have been on the rise throughout 2020 and 2021.
9. LEBANON: The situation in Lebanon is still deteriorating in 2021. A massive explosion, which disrupted supply chains and decimated large swaths of Beirut in August 2020, compounded the already challenging economic situation in the country.
It comes as no surprise, therefore, that Lebanese nationals have been heading the Europe in search of better prospects. Given international sanctions against the country, however, Lebanese investment immigrants have had a limited range of options available to them as well.
10. SOUTH AFRICA: The socio-economic and political situation in South Africa has been in decline for at least a decade. The state electricity provider is in a death spiral. State owned enterprises are bankrupt. Serious and organized crime is rampant. The governing ANC is corrupt, and increasingly incapable of governing.
The tax base is shrinking, investor confidence is decimated, and tax increases are looming for an ever-shrinking base of taxpayers.
Consequently, South Africans with means are increasingly leaving for countries like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Portugal, the USA and the UK.
The D7 Visa Program, in particular, is increasingly being “discovered” by South Africans who don’t can’t afford a Golden Visa investment, and enquiries for this particular program has been sky-rocketing in the past two years.
11. SYRIA: The conflict in Syria has seen tens of thousands of nationals leave the country in search of better opportunities abroad. While Europe is perennially sought after, international sanctions against the country pose challenges for those seeking to apply for Citizenship By Investment programs.
Nonetheless, application enquiries from Syrians are frequently received for the Citizenship By Investment Programs of Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts and Nevis, Turkey, St Lucia, Dominica and Montenegro.
While many of these countries may consider applications from Syrians who have held legal residency outside of the country for 5-10 years, it must be noted that the Vanuatu Citizenship By Investment Program, in particular, does not accept Syrian applicants. Iranians, Iraqis, North Koreans and Yemeni nationals are not eligible to apply for citizenship under the Vanuatu CBI either.
12. USA: The meteoric rise of the US as a source market for RBI and CBI programs, starting in late 2019, took many industry insiders by surprise. The development has been driven by a range of factors, from concerns about looming wealth and capital gains increases to dissatisfaction with the increasingly polarized political situation in the country.
Regardless, US application volumes for the Caribbean passport programs, European Golden Visas and passive income visas such as the D7 have skyrocketed in 2021.
13. UK: British nationals seeking to retain their visa-free access to the EU have accounted for the lion’s share of UK applications for second citizenship, either by ancestry (especially in Ireland), as well as for second residency in Portugal, Greece and Spain, either via passive income visas or Golden Visa Programs.