Citizenship schemes attract Mena investors

Portugal's golden residence permit programme has emerged as the world's best residence-by-investment scheme this year, according to the Global Residence and Citizenship Programs 2015 report by the residence and citizenship planning consultant, Henley & Partners. The Individual Investor Programme (IIP) of the Republic of Malta has been recognized by the report as the best citizenship-linked investment programme.

The annual report details the outcomes of the Global Residence Program Index (GRPI) and Global Citizenship Program Index (GCPI). They gauge and reflect the relative worth of residence and citizenship schemes around the world through a benchmarking process.

Top destinations

The GCPI ranked the Malta IIP in first place with a score of 76 — higher than Cyprus (63), Austria (61), Antigua and Barbuda (60), St Kitts and Nevis (59), Grenada (48) and Dominica (45). Various nations' cwere ranked according to reputation, quality of life, visa-free access, processing time, compliance, investment requirements, residence requirements, relocation flexibility, whether any physical visits were required and transparency.

In terms of demand, Russia and the CIS countries have the highest demand for citizenship-by-investment programmes, closely followed by the Middle East and North Africa (Mena).

In fact, the Malta programme continues to see high demand from Mena, with 30-40 per cent of applicants from the Middle East.

In the GRPI, Portugal ranked highest on the total costs indicator due to the fact that the full investment requirement is significantly lower than other residence programmes. According to the report, Portugal's scheme continues to see high demand from Mena, including the UAE.

Austria and Belgium were ranked second and third respectively. The programmes were ranked according to ten indicators — reputation, quality of life, taxes, visa-free access, processing time as well as quality of processing, compliance, investment requirements, total costs, time needed to acquire citizenship and its requirements.

Additionally, Portugal shared first place with Malta, Monaco and the UAE in terms of lighter tax burdens on residents on both personal and corporate levels.

Portugal was joined by fellow Schengen countries Malta, Monaco, Switzerland, Latvia, Austria, Spain, Belgium and Greece in first place for providing visa-free access to 25 countries. The US came in second.

In terms of quality of processing and time taken for the same, it shared the top spot with Malta, Switzerland and Austria.

Perceptions count

Under the reputation criterion, which places a premium on investors' and advisers' perceptions about countries where they invest, Switzerland narrowly beat Canada to first place, while Austria came in third.

However, Austria emerged as the leader of the quality of life segment — ahead of Canada and followed by Switzerland — and also dominated the investment requirements category, followed by Belgium and Malta respectively.

Citizenship requirements — the indicator that analyses the requirements needed to qualify for naturalization after the required minimum time is fulfilled — was led by three non-European Union countries: Australia, Canada and the US.

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Source: Property Weekly


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