When the first wave of covid hit in April 2020, investment migration programmes suffered. Badly. The future of the industry was on the rocks as the number of enquiries dropped dramatically, and global travel came to an almost complete standstill. 

Yet whilst the future looked bleak, the investment migration companies remained optimistic about the long term future of these programmes, predicting that there would be a large resurgence after the short term effects of the pandemic subsided, and for the most part, these firms were correct. 

The pandemic and its effects brought to the forefront in people’s minds the importance of quality healthcare and the need for global mobility, and as such, the global crisis has shown that the strength of a passport is not just related to the number of countries a citizen can travel to visa-free. With major disruptions to global travel, governments making major changes to their taxation policies, as well as general economic uncertainty, the market for second passports has seen a huge shift in demand. Whilst initially, the consequences of the pandemic meant there was a block between supply and demand. With several programmes requiring applicants to visit the country, many individuals were physically unable to go through with the programme. Whilst some countries recognised this problem, such as Vanuatu making concessions for applicants and allowing them to apply and do all the processing completely socially distanced, countries such as Greece did not. This resulted in a dramatic decrease in the number of applications for the Greek PR programme with an 89% decrease in golden visa programmes from 2019-2021 and a considerable increase in the number of applicants for Turkey and Vanuatu’s investment programmes. Bearing in mind that a return to normality with a convenient, unrestricted global movement is unlikely to come back anytime soon, this demand for second passports is only expected to continue. 

One interesting thing to come out of the pandemic is the demand for second passports in North America. The market for second passports went from being negligible in 2019 to the 3rd most important market in under 18 months, becoming the fastest growing client base.  

For a country that has never had to experience limits on global travel that citizens from emerging economies have had to endure, the pandemic has shone a new light on global mobility.  Holders of US passports currently are unable to travel to the places they have become accustomed to visiting unrestricted. As such, Americans have started seeing the advantage of second citizenship, particularly in Europe, which would afford greater access and freedom to travel. 

With that being said, travel is not the only reason that Americans are suddenly deciding to invest in a second passport. Increasing polarization in terms of the USA’s political and social climate has encouraged its citizens to consider moving to and living in other countries. What’s more, clients are now becoming increasingly concerned with the financial implications a second passport can bring, particularly asset protection and tax optimisation. Most countries that offer citizenship or residency by investment options also offer attractive economic benefits. Considering the proposed ‘wealth tax’ that is being considered in both the UK and the USA is only pushing more of its citizens to consider better options to enable better financial planning. 

Firms are starting to recognise the untapped market in the continent of Africa, with many firms planning on opening offices there within the next year. Yet, this decision is an interesting one. The continent has both the lowest number of millionaires and the lowest predicted growth in the number of High Net Worth Individuals. So why are migration firms setting up offices there?

Europe and the Americas have larger percentages of high net worth individuals, and although more of them are considering a second passport, as a whole, they are less likely to invest in a migration programme than those in Africa. Unlike in North America and Europe, the second passport in Africa is a lot more valuable as it will offer a lot more opportunities, such as global mobility, political stability, and better healthcare. 

There is no doubt that the pandemic has caused a seismic shift in not just the demand, but also the reasoning behind obtaining a second passport. Individuals who would never have considered a second passport pre-corona, are now seeing it as a serious and viable option within their plans for their future. If you are interested in getting a second passport, contact one of our immigration specialists, who will be more than happy to assist you. 

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