UK Residency via TIER 1 Investor Visa ‘Surprise’ Suspension

After its introduction in 2008, the Tier 1 Investor Visa which is often referred to as the UK Golden Visa or the “gold-plated” visa, is being suspended as of midnight on Friday 7thDecember 2018.

The visa scheme was set in place to encourage affluent people from outside of the EU to invest in the UK. This was a fast-track solution being offered to foreign investors who were interested in settling in the UK.

UK Ministers decision to impose this drastic halt on the visa scheme is part of a “crackdown on financial crime” i.e. money laundering.

The programme gave investors who bought the visa for £2 million, indefinite leave to remain after five years in the UK However, concerns arose where the scheme had traces of being used as a means of money laundering.

Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes announced that “the suspension would come into effect at midnight on Friday” as “we will not tolerate people who do not play by the rules and seek to abuse the system”. She went on to say that, “that is why I am bringing forward these new measures which will make sure that only genuine investors, who intend to support UK businesses, can benefit from our immigration system.”

The “gold-plated” visa suspension will end after an audit process is introduced, ministers say.

Word has it that as of next year, independent, regulated auditors will assess applicants’ financial and business interests as well as checking that they have had control of these funds for a minimum of at least two years, the Home Office said – compared to what the scheme previously required, which was that applicants had to have a UK bank account and were of “good character”.

In 2017, over 1,000 Tier 1 visas were issued with the highest investors coming from China and Russia. Under the programme, successful candidates were eligible to have visas that lasted three years and four months, with two-year extensions available.

By 2011, the government anticipated that the Tier 1 visa would attract the “brightest and best” due to allowing investors the option to bring forward the date at which they could apply for settled status. This would amount to them spending, on average, £10 million in the UK to cut the wait by two years.

The Migration Advisory Committee, however, said in 2014 that “the scheme brought little economic benefit for British citizens because most applicants were buying gilts to qualify” – meaning that they were effectively loaning the government money, rather than investing in the UK.

So, what will be the future for the “gold-plated” UK visa?

The Home Office revealed that there will be a planned provision for ‘pooled investments – supported by the government,’ to support projects with a “clear economic benefit to the UK” such as backing up small and medium-sized businesses.

Analysis revels that an approximate 35,000 people have invested in a passport

The growth of the citizenship by investment market has been ferocious in the last few years. Existing programmes have seen dramatic rises whilst new programmes are added to the market.

With interest and demand rising, the question stands as to how many individual passports have been issued to applicants worldwide via the route of citizenship by investment? After much data exploration, Coates Global have come across remarkable results of an estimated total number of economic citizens in the world. Please note that we have not included any residency by investment permits as well as programmes that Coates Global do not offer services for.

Europe

CYPRUS

Total of 3,850 economic citizens

In February 2018, officials at the Finance Ministry informed the press that Cyprus had issued 3,300 passports under the Cyprus citizenship by investment programme. This is the most up to date data that is available, however, what we can deduce is how Cyprus has received an average of 62 economic citizens a month in the last 4 years. Due to this, we can only assume that this would be the number of applicants Cyprus continues to receive from the period between March 2018 up until today.

MALTA

Total of 2,101 economic citizens

Malta’s Individual Investor Programme (MIIP) have published detailed statistics in their annual reports by the programme’s regulator called Office of the Regulator (ORiip). In comparison to the other programmes, Malta has offered the world a most transparent review when reporting data on a year-on-year basis.

The Caribbean

DOMINICA

Total of 6-10,000 economic citizens

The difficulty when trying to establish a concrete estimate with the total amount of economic citizens in Dominica is that the country does not offer any sort of official statistical reporting on its citizenship programme. On the other hand, other sources point towards, what we can only gather as an estimated total number.

Emmanuel Nanthan, ambassador and head of Dominica’s citizenship by investment unit, stated in April this year that he was receiving between 1,500 and 2,000 applications per annum. Other factors have added to this, such as, the IMF, during their Article IV missions to the island, recorded CBI-receipts as % of GDP as well as the Prime Minister disclosing investments raised in Dominica via the programme through the annual budget address. As this information is rather theoretical and estimated on uncertain data, this leaves us with an approximate average of more than 6,000 and less than 10,000 economic citizens who have been issued their Dominican passport.

ST KITTS & NEVIS

Total of 16,544 economic citizens

Prime Minister Harris of St Kitts & Nevis stated in July 2018 that his country had a grand total of 16,544 economic citizens. St Kitts and Nevis, like Dominica, publishes no data on its programme, although the government has repeatedly promised to do so.

Total number of economic citizens in the world

At least 32,495

That is a very conservative estimate (using Dominica’s highest percentage, otherwise it would be calculated as £28,495). As some of this data has no true lead, we can only assume and hope that the mark exceed £35,000 rather merely making it an average. This goes without saying that there are numerous of other citizenship by investment programmes that are not listed as Coates Global only wish to provide carefully selected elite and prestigious of programmes.

The British Embassy’s Department of International Trade (DIT) in Lisbon presents Coates Global with one of their prestigious business awards

On Wednesday 3rd October 2018, Coates Global was proudly awarded with one of DIT’s acclaimed business awards for contributing to the British-Portuguese international trade relationship. New to the market, Coates Global attained the DIT business award because of the sheer volume of investment funds their clients invested into Portugal’s Golden Visa programme. This had an resounding effect in the rise in Portugal’s economy.

From humble beginnings, Coates Global has expanded in ways unimaginable since its inception in 2016. Our company has flourished enormously in the these past two years. Starting off with a single office, we now have seven offices worldwide!

This award is a monumental representation of the footprint Coates Global will continue to leave behind with every client on every programme; every step of the way!

Over 430 Million Euros raised through the Maltese IIP alone making the NDSF one of the top 50 Sovereign wealth funds

 The National Development and Social Fund (NDSF) of Malta originally was established to manage and oversee receipts from the country’s Citizenship by Investment programme named the Individual Investor Programme (IIP). According to the fund’s board of governors, over the years since the inception of the IIP in 2014 up until 31st August 2018, the programme has raised an impressive total of €432,014,517 for the NDSF. Thus, with the presenting reported figures makes the NDSF the world’s 43rd largest sovereign wealth fund by assets under management (AUM). 

The fund receives an average of 70% of all applicant contributions that make up part of the Maltese citizenship by investment programme. The fund not only provides future charitable commitments that have reserved €56 million, it has admittedly retained the chief part of nearly half a billion euros in a separate account with the Central Bank of Malta. 

Moreover, there has been a profound increase in both in the public and private sectors when making higher yield investments. It was last month that the fund bought a 49% stake in Lombard Bank. According to the Times of Malta, the programme has acquired more than €130 million in publicly traded securities and treasury bonds. 

At current exchange rates, the equivalent to the NDSF’s recorded balance is exactly half a billion US dollars! 

Residence-to-Citizenship by Investment Bill Passed by Egyptian Parliament

On 16 July 2018, the Egyptian parliament passed a law that will grant residency – and, subsequently citizenship for applicants who have a continued residence of five-years in Egypt – to those who deposit an equivalent of US$ 391,000 (seven million Egyptian pounds) in one of the country’s state-owned banks.

A report revealed that the new programme has several unconventional features compared to the other programmes currently trending in the RCBI-market:

–  Those approved under the deposit option are permitted to apply for a citizenship within a five-year period in contrast with other programmes who offer this citizenship option only after a ten-year period

–  Family members of the main applicant are obliged to reside in Egypt to qualify for citizenship alongside the main applicant

–   Once the citizenship application has been approved in the fifth year of residence, the bank deposit is transferred to the Treasury, hence converting the investment in to a donation

–   Those who become naturalised through this scheme will only be eligible to “exercise their political rights”(likely meaning the right to vote), five years after obtaining their citizenship status

According to a report on Mada Masr:

 

“The legislation sparked backlash in Parliament from lawmakers who used nationalist arguments to criticize it, noting that the amendments essentially put Egyptian citizenship up for sale.”

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Russia endorses Visa-Free Travel with Dominica

Amid the current political revisions appears a welcoming turn of events! Since Dominican Prime Minister (PM) Roosevelt Skerrit first announced negotiations with Russia regarding the visa-waiver agreement more than three months ago, the Russian government have come to endorse this proposition. Announced on 28th August 2018, this visa-waiver agreement will permit citizens from the Commonwealth of Dominica and citizens from Russia visa-free travel to each other’s countries for a period no longer than 90-days; as reported by TASS.

Detailed on an official statement published on the Russian cabinet’s website expressed:

“The draft agreement waives visas for holders of Russian passports valid abroad, including diplomatic and service passports, and citizens of the Commonwealth of Dominica who hold diplomatic, service and regular passports, provided their stay does not exceed 90 days in any 180-day period.”

In addition to PM Roosevelt Skerrit announcing that his administration was in the final stages of negotiating visa-waiver agreements with Russia, he also was in the final stages of negotiations regarding a similar deal with the UAE; as well as actively pursuing one with China.

Whereas the Russian visa-waiver agreement now appears to have been sealed, we are awaiting news on any such agreement being settled with the other two nations. Despite this, Dominica did announce earlier this week that they will be opening an embassy and a consulate out in the UAE.

With Russia joining Dominica’s index of visa-free destinations is a momentous gem in Dominica’s crown. Three other CIP-jurisdictions, which are Saint Kitts & Nevis, Vanuatu, and Grenada, already achieved visa-waivers with Russia, while Grenada stands as the only Caribbean nation that has visa-free access to China.

Residency by investment programme on the horizon for Anguilla

A further Caribbean nation welcomes a residency by investment programme as part of their medium-term agenda to be launched at the fourth quarter of 2018. The government of Anguilla are keen to implement this new programme that will offer foreign nationals permanent residency status in Anguilla once they have made a financial contribution to the nation, in addition to providing evidence of good health and good character.

When hosting an information session on the subject that took place on 23 August 2018, the government of the British Overseas Territory of Anguilla presented the purpose and benefits of the programme. They gave a preview of the proposed residency by investment programme, including the application process and fees as well as its plans for implementation.

The latest information regarding the residency by investment programme for Anguilla state the following:

– Two investment options:

1) Investment in a Capital Development Fund of US$150,000

2) A minimum investment in real estate of US$750,000

– A third route to investment is to be released as a tax residency option, however, details as still to be determined

– Accelerated processing times that could have are 30-day turnaround (from application stage to approval stage); this is still to be confirmed

– Dependants of main applicant are eligible to apply

– Permanent residency status ONLY

As information is being verified, finalised and accordingly adjusted, amendments to the residency programme could still come to play. For more information about the upcoming Anguilla residency by investment programme, please click here to view the government’s official announcement.

The new CBI index confirms more attraction from investors seeking dual nationality via Caribbean CBI Programmes

As shown in the image above, the Caribbean islands CBI programmes have reached an all-time high with their popularity ratings from investors. With the Caribbean nations leading the current trending and growing citizenship by investment programme industry, investors worldwide – primarily from Russia, China, the Middle East and Africa – are attracted to the concept of acquiring dual nationality via an affordable investment route that suits their needs.

A publication from the Financial Times released the 2018 CBI Index that ranks the world’s most active CBI programmes, crowning the Dominican programme as the most attractive on the market. The Dominican programme exceptionally scored perfect marks in five out of the seven pillars in which each programme is evaluated by. The top five places were allocated to all Caribbean nations confirming that as of 2018, the Caribbean CBI programmes are the most favoured programmes by the investors!

The pillars (areas) that CBI Index measures CBI programmes are the following:

– Due diligence
– Freedom of movement
– Standard of living
– Minimum Investment
– Ease of processing
– Citizenship timeline
– Mandatory travel/residence
– Due diligence

  • Independent researcher and architect of the CBI Index, James McKay, deems these the most critical factors of any investor’s decision-making process when choosing the right CBI programme to obtain their second citizenship. He explains that;
  • “The CBI Index is rapidly becoming the leading tool for investors to accurately measure the performance and appeal of global citizenship by investment programmes.”

    Throughout the CBI index special reports, the prime emphasis is falls on due diligence as this is the security and vetting procedures involved in each CBI programme ensure that morally questionable characters are excluded. The 2018 CBI Index highlights the due diligence process as a key component in differentiating the programmes.

    CEO of due diligence experts S-RM, Heyrick Bond Gunning, stated that it:

    “should be a staple of all CBI programmes that aspire to success and durability.”

    Echoed from 2017 CBI Index, Dominica remains the world’s best CBI programme due to maintained high levels of timeliness and simplicity in process, an affordable investment threshold, and a robust due diligence framework. This result is a great testament and success to the nation of Dominica as their CBI programme has withstood the challenges presented by last year’s hurricane season. Dominica further serves as an admirable example of how CBI funds are used to improve the lives of its citizens, such as the recently announced construction of 5,000 new homes, financed entirely by the CBI programme.

    With the latest upheaval over post-Brexit debates, this has ignited and raised awareness of the value of one’s citizenship and the certainty — or lack thereof — that it may hold. The impact of this can influence an inevitable result that freedom of movement is becoming a key element for investors to allocate their finances.

    To find out more, please head over to the official CBI Index website at www.cbiindex.com.

Malta ranks first among all CBI Programmes for due diligence and compliance

According to the new citizenship index published by HF Corporation, Malta ranks first among all Citizenship by Investment programmes for due diligence and compliance. HF Corporation allocated a points-system to due diligence, being 7, and compliance, being 8. Out of a total 15 points, Malta scored the highest amount with a respectful 12 points, just scraping the win against Cyprus who secured a strong 11 points.
In this competitive marketplace, robust due-diligence standards, pricing befitting the offered benefits, smart processing and effective channelling of the foreign direct investment for the economic development of the countries and for the prosperity of their nations, will determine which programme will outperform the other. It is key to note that each sovereign country has, and should have, the right to design a naturalisation policy that works with their nation and their recipient governments.
REPUTATION
A programme’s reputation can be heavily influenced by ‘due diligence’ and the ‘compliance’ of the country with the accepted international standards. What is meant by reputation in relation to a programme is about how well the programme is perceived outside of the country. This could include regulators, institutions, intergovernmental organisations and other professionals. A prominent aspect that advances any programme is its transparency and through the responsibility of government agencies whereby the due diligence standards are set. These are done either directly or through professional due diligence providers, as a way of reflecting this transparency and boosting the reputation of programmes.
DUE DILIGENCE
As briefly mentioned in the above paragraph, due diligence standards are the standards opted by the governmental authority, in respective countries, who are responsible for all approvals of the citizenship by investment and naturalisation applications. These are to ensure that _“persona non grata”_ or otherwise known as, unwanted persons, are not admitted under the respective programme. Much of this includes but does not limit running background checks on the applicants and the source of their funds that may either be run by the government agencies or through third-parties, or a combination of all these practices may be opted.
COMPLIANCE
Compliance of a country’s citizenship programme with the international standards issued can somewhat but not wholly lie in due diligence practices. This may not always the same as the broader compliance of the country can vary with the international standards that also include the financial standards. With the compliance of a country’s financial system aligning with the international standards – which may not only be limited to differential tax rates – is another feature that, in addition, can ensure that the nationals of that country will not have to face additional scrutiny in the outside financial world.
METHODOLOGY
The HF Corporation have allocated seven points (7) to due diligence, while eight (8) points have been assigned to compliance. The methodology that is taken in to account is to determine compliance by the policies announced by task forces, financial advisory bureaus as well as the regional organisations. It is important to analyse and not under estimate all these factors as side by side, they can eventually have a combined effect on the global reputation of a single or even multiple programmes. The more transparent and the stricter the due diligence standards are made in the country will highly impact the reputation of a programme in the long term; the more the compliance of a particular programme with accepted standards, the greater the local, regional and global acceptance of the programme will be – and hence, more foreign direct investment into the respective country – thereby more utilisation of _“ius pecuniae”_ for the welfare of the indigenous population.

The most recent changes made in the Spanish Golden Visa

The Spanish Golden Visa has undergone some modifications in its programme, making it more attractive to potential investors, highly qualified professionals, entrepreneurs, researchers and transnational displaced workers. In the recent years, Spain’s economy has experienced growth and stability, primarily because Russian, Chinese and Middle-Eastern investors have purchased property under the country’s Golden Visa programme.

Expansion of dependents who can accompany the investor

Prior to the changes, when the Spanish Golden Visa was launched in 2013, the requirements for an investor to expand the residency permit grant to their dependents was limited to family members who were their husband or wife and minor children.
However, the residence permit now entitles not only the husband or wife to accompany the main applicant on their application, but extends for people with similar relationship, such as, domestic partners.
Additionally, minor children as well as children of legal age who have constituted themselves a family unit, as well as the ascendants of the investor or of his spouse, the in-laws, dependent on them, are too granted with permission to accompany the main applicant as their dependants.
As the Spanish Golden Visa has broadened the scope for opportunity and possibility for investors to grant a residence permit to the following family members: domestic partner, spouse, couple, minor children, older children, ascendants of the investor and ascendants of the investor couple.

Elimination of the need to visit Spain to renew visa

Another change coming with the modification of the Spanish Golden Visa (residence permit for investors) relates to the requirement that investors must renew their permit either while residing in Spain or entering the country to renew the permit. This meant that the beneficiary of the residence permit would travel to Spain (if not already residing in Spain) at least once during the validity of the permit to be able to renew it later.
Nevertheless, the change recently introduced has eliminated the requirement for this need to travel to Spain. Now, beneficiaries can renew the permit without having ever stepped on Spanish soil. In this respect, the Spanish residence permit is equated to that of its competitors in the European market making it easier for beneficiaries holding the residence permit to travel through Europe without having to enter Spain to comply to the visa renewal regulation.

Residence permit extension increased to 5 years

Rather than investors having only their visa permit extended up to two years, a further modification has been included, coherently with the issue of not needing to travel to Spain at any time and making it even easier and more attractive for investors to subsequently achieve Spanish nationality: the duration of the residence permit has been increased once it has been renewed from two years to five years.

Initial visa validity increased to 6 months

By the entry into force of the Second Chance Act another modification has been made with the initial visa with which investors traveled to Spain to make the investment. To begin with, the visa duration period was issued to a restricted 60 days, even less than that of a Spanish tourist visa permitting non-EU members to enter Spain for 90 days. The new change introduced in this aspect extends the duration of this initial provisional visa by increasing it to a considerable 6 months. Moreover, this type of visa is applicable to those investors who despite not having formalised the investment (purchase of a home or property), have at least signed one of the contracts securing the deed prior to the making the investment itself and have deposited the money in Spain.