Mehdi Kadiri is a Managing Partner and Head of North America at Henley & Partners.
In 2023, awareness is increasing among high-net-worth individuals in North America of the benefits and prospects associated with investment migration. While the USA and Canada have traditionally been attractive markets for inbound economic migration thanks to the US EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, the E-2 Investor Treaty Visa Program, and the Canada Start-Up Visa Program, wealthy investors are now exploring their outbound options, and the investment migration markets in both countries are growing.
The USA saw a significant increase in enquiries about investment migration programs of 30% last year, and in the first four months of 2023, Henley & Partners had already received 40% of the enquiries we received in the full 12 months of 2022. Canada has experienced even bigger growth in interest, with a rise of 36% in enquiries in 2022, and by the end of April 2023 we had already reached 45% of last year’s enquiries.
Various factors prompt spikes in enquiries, including changes in political or economic conditions, shifts in tax policies, and events of global significance such as the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine. These periods of uncertainty usually coincide with a rise in affluent families seeking stability and security, as well as programs that offer flexibility, global mobility, and access to desirable lifestyle and educational opportunities for families.
North American nationals have shown a consistent increase in interest in investment migration programs in the European Union, with programs offering residence in countries such as Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain garnering significant attention. All four countries rank among the top five most sought-after destinations for North Americans seeking alternative residence options, with the Portugal Golden Residence Permit Program the most popular overall. The benefits of unlocking global jurisdictional access and opportunity, not to mention European Union market access, as well as extended settlement rights across the globe in countries with attractive lifestyle opportunities contribute to this trend.
There is also a noticeable rise in the interest in citizenship by investment in the Caribbean, with countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, and St. Lucia, which have well-established programs, gaining significant attention.
With increased awareness and scrutiny of investment migration, investors are placing greater emphasis on due diligence and transparency. They are seeking programs that have robust due diligence procedures in place to ensure program integrity, safeguard against risks, and protect their investments.
Although some wealthy Americans are on the move, the USA remains the world’s most influential wealth hub, accounting for 32% of global wealth and over one in three of the world’s millionaires. According to our latest data, the USA is forecast to have the 4th-highest net inflow of millionaires globally in 2023 of 2,100. Similarly, Canada is expected to witness the 6th-highest net inflow of 1,600. These statistics highlight the attractiveness of North America as a sought-after destination for HNWIs seeking investment migration opportunities. While America’s net inflows are nowhere near what they were pre-Covid, when they peaked at 10,800 in 2019, Canada’s are gradually on the rise again.
The “American Dream” is very much alive for many foreign investors who want to access the USA, be it through the EB-5 or E-2 routes. They are driven as much by entrepreneurial ambition as they are by their desire for better opportunities for their families, to secure access to the best education at Ivy League colleges, and to ensure their children have the best chance for a prosperous future.