The Henley Citizenship Program Index 2023 provides a comprehensive benchmarking of the world’s 14 most important citizenship programs. Indispensable for all those considering citizenship by investment, this interactive tool enables investors to select the factors that matter most to them and their families. Use the Henley Residence Program Index 2023 to compare residence by investment programs and the Henley Ultimate Portfolio to explore the ultimate combination of alternative residences and citizenships to unlock global access, mitigate risk, and create opportunity.
In constructing the Henley Citizenship Program Index 2023 we have referred to multiple sources and experts to obtain and interpret the primarily qualitative data used. We have relied principally on the expertise of residence and citizenship analysts and the experience of investors and government officials. As a result, the explanatory power that supports the scores in the different categories is based on surveys, interviews with respondents, and opinions solicited from selected experts. Where possible, the subjectivity of the various factors has been assessed against publicly available data and widely accepted composite indicators.
The data for surveys and interviews has been consistently collected from a representative sample that includes respondents, experts on citizenship, and practitioners who have been involved in the design of qualitative research in global mobility and related spaces. The sample frame for respondents consists of existing and potential investors, their advisors, and government officials in countries that either already have, or are in the process of establishing, investment migration programs. Relying on potential clients means that the responses of those who decided against proceeding with any program are also included. It may also be noted that among our respondent and expert base are government officials and consultants engaged in investment migration programs that have been discontinued as well as those that are in the process of being established or reformed.
The factors that are analyzed in the index are as follows:
Reputation relies on the perceptions of investors and advisors regarding the image of the countries in which they invest. This indicator is subjective by nature, but much like the Attractiveness Indicators employed by the IMD in its Executive Opinion Surveys, our intention was to allow our respondents and informants the space to consider intangible and unanticipated factors while assessing the reputation of destination countries.
Endeavoring to assess reputation is not new, and the relationship between reputation and outcome is a popular mechanism for assessing the competitiveness of organizations, cities, and even regions. Furthermore, the reputation of a country, much like the reputation of a corporate, is a historical indicator that allows its previous efforts to meet investor expectations to be assessed.
The assessment of Quality of Life uses a wide range of methods to evaluate subjective perceptions of various sample groups in different contexts, as well as developing factors that are independent of subjective perceptions. Like Reputation, Quality of Life could well benefit from considering investors’ experiences and what is particularly relevant to individuals who are interested in investment migration.
We are aware, moreover, that there are substantial institutional efforts in developing composite indicators for Quality of Life — the United Nations Human Development Index is one of the most comprehensive (relying on life expectancy at birth, schooling, literacy rates, and gross national income per capita). These factors do not cover all civil and political liberties though; for assessing democratic values, Freedom House’s Freedom in the World report is a preferable indicator.
As our focus is also on investment, the Heritage Foundation’s Index of Economic Freedom is pertinent, since investors may have to negotiate the regulatory environment of destination countries for a variety of economic activities. We have sought to anchor the framing of our questions in established indicators but recognize that such indicators do not always correspond to what is being assessed in the Henley Citizenship Program Index 2023.
The methodology for this factor is relatively straightforward. It aims to measure an improvement in the mobility of an investor, or their ability to enter additional countries visa-free or with visa-on-arrival access as a result of being a citizen of a particular jurisdiction.
This factor relies on the 2023 Henley Passport Index, which curates data from 227 different travel destinations (including countries, territories, and micro-states), collated by the International Air Transport Association, to arrive at the ranking. The Henley Passport Index compares data on the number of destinations that a citizen of a given country can visit without requiring a prior visa. A relaxed travel policy is worthwhile in itself, but it also characterizes a country’s political regime and the extent of its civil liberties.
Processing time for applications and their quality of processing are distinct aspects that are assessed differently. Some countries offer a short processing time between lodging an application and issuing a visa or permit, but there may be uncertainties in administrative processes. Analysis of valuable input from informants and respondents has verified the official or declared processing times and complemented ‘hard’ data on actual processing time taken (namely, the number of days), including obstructions faced.
Countries have different procedures and varying due diligence requirements for profiling applicants (including police records and financial statements), sources of funds, the manner of fund transfers, and the vulnerability to abuse of the funds invested. The standard measures adopted are best practices developed by international associations and professional agencies for anti-money laundering, counter-terrorist financing, and anti-bribery and corruption. The EU, unlike the USA, does not have a joint or federal procedure for conducting due diligence, so EU countries differ widely in terms of their national rules. Clear information and frameworks regarding due diligence facilitate better risk assessments for potential investors. A more intensive due diligence requirement may be an advantage as this translates into less uncertainty in private investments. Since financial institutions usually engage in Know Your Customer audits regardless of the regulations of investment migration programs, they are less vulnerable than private investments. Vulnerability to money laundering in different sectors could, furthermore, be avoided in the presence of clear regulations.
The upfront investment amounts for citizenship differ in terms of amount required, nature of investment, and additional costs. The range of required investment amounts is broad, and the nature of the investment is not always left to the discretion of the investor. Options for different forms of investment are specified by the destination governments, largely depending on policy considerations and benefits to the respective countries. Generally, a country offering more choice in how to invest and requiring lower investment amounts (including additional costs) scores higher.
Because of the unique nature of citizenship by investment programs, investment amounts are substantial, and the accompanying conditions do not allow investors much choice in the nature of their investment. There is a noticeable pattern to the investments required for citizenship by investment programs: the investment amounts are generally greater than those required by residence by investment programs, there is usually a requirement or at least an option to purchase real estate, and there is usually a requirement or an option to make a non-refundable contribution.
None of the countries ranked in the Henley Citizenship Program Index 2023 impose demanding conditions of residence. Smaller countries keen on attracting investment use waivers or substantial reductions in residence requirements to their competitive advantage.
An assessment of the number of citizenship investors in the different countries reveals that a substantial percentage of them apply for the migration of family members with the intention of either settling in the destination country or keeping the option open in case they need to leave their home countries. For this factor, we evaluated first the number of investors who indicated their intention to relocate and compared it to the number of investors who have relocated, in order to gauge which countries are conducive to relocation. Subsequently, we assessed the factors facilitating relocation. In this regard, EU member states have a clear advantage because a citizen of an EU member state can consider relocating to another member state or to a choice of several additional countries that have agreements with the EU, such as Switzerland. Though such relocation is not automatic, the rules are well established, they provide clarity on how and when relocation to another EU member state is permissible, and the process entails lower information costs. The efforts of destination countries towards enabling family unification, and the ease with which they deal with private property, reduce the uncertainties that relocation can entail. Furthermore, for citizens who can support themselves financially, EU law imposes very few restrictions on their freedom to relocate.
The rule of law plays an important part in informing investors’ choices in relocation: their confidence in an existent fair process for securing personal freedom, settling investment disputes, and the legal wherewithal to negotiate with government authorities, all point towards a higher score.
This indicator assesses whether physical visits are required as part of the application process, usually for interviews, oath-taking ceremonies, and passport renewals, by evaluating the number of visits required and the bureaucracy of the processes that precede them.
The World Economic Forum’s transparency indicators for citizenship by investment programs are: public support, evaluation studies, availability of public data, and due diligence criteria. Not all Henley Citizenship Program Index 2023 countries publish evaluations of program inflows, but other criteria inform the structure and content of the surveys, which inquired about access to clear information on application processes, including due diligence, and how funds are used. Although many investors wish to understand, and, preferably, choose, where their investments are used, investments are often deployed in predetermined ways, making it difficult to influence their use. The visibility of such contributions in domestic projects and the earmarking of funds influence investors’ decisions and perceptions of program transparency.
Circulating such information is advantageous as it enables investors to conduct meaningful risk assessments. Furthermore, the impact of investments on potential and existing businesses could influence business decisions. The pivotal aspects for transparency are program rules and regulations, and processes and their implementation in program administration.
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