Mehdi Kadiri is Managing Partner and Head of North America at Henley & Partners.
The Americas region is booming — between 2019 and 2021, Henley & Partners saw a spike of 320% in new enquiries from the region. Demand has predominantly been driven by geopolitical upheaval in the USA along with shifting political dynamics in several Latin American countries, as well as the global coronavirus pandemic (and its local mismanagement) and the associated travel restrictions and mobility risk. American citizens were by far the number one consumer of residence and citizenship by investment programs in the region — in 2021, 68.5% of new enquiries from the Americas came from the USA. This upward trend is continuing as Henley & Partners America has already received over 166% of 2021 enquiries by early February 2022, making 2022 on track to be another year of growth.
The USA has been and remains one of the best performing markets globally. According to New World Wealth, at the end of 2021, 36% of the world’s high-net-worth-individual population was based in America, making the USA home to the largest proportion of the high-net-worth universe. In our experience, a millionaire is not likely to spend more than 10% of their net assets to acquire an alternative residence or an additional citizenship and given the price tag, which ranges from USD 100,000 to over USD 8 million, by default US citizens are the top investors in this sought-after insurance policy. Its northern neighbor, Canada, has also seen healthy growth in direct proportion to its 2% share of global millionaires. We are also seeing healthy levels of interest in Latin American countries and aim to boost our presence in the region in 2022 and beyond.
The Portugal Golden Residence Permit Program is the top program enquired about in the Americas, followed by the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program, and the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Program. Portugal is considered one of the most budget-friendly residence by investment options (starting at EUR 200,000), offering investors a range of options from real estate to venture capital to deposit solutions, coupled with its attractive, culturally rich, safe, and modern lifestyle, all of which contribute to this option being one of the most favored. Caribbean citizenship by investment options remain steady and strong regional contenders. The biggest Caribbean climber by far has been the St. Lucia Citizenship by Investment Program, with enquiries increasing dramatically since 2019. In Europe, the Montenegro Citizenship by Investment Program saw consistently high levels of enquiries throughout 2021 and a significant increase between 2019 and 2021.
With residence programs in Canada and the USA, and five Caribbean citizenship programs, the Americas is also a significant inbound investment migration destination. On 11 March, the US Congress voted to revive the popular EB-5 regional center program for at least five years. Still to be signed into law, the new minimum investment amount will be USD 1,050,000, or reduced to USD 800,000 for infrastructure projects or those in Targeted Employment Areas. At the same time, prompted by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Caribbean countries have temporarily ceased their citizenship by investment programs for applicants from Russia and Belarus.