Stuart Wakeling is a Managing Partner at Henley & Partners and the Head of the firm’s London office.
As investors’ awareness and understanding of investment migration and its benefits grows, so does the level of interest in residence and citizenship by investment programs. High-net-worth individuals are becoming increasingly aware of the importance of building optionality in times of volatility. Diversification of residence or citizenship is now as relevant as being multi-banked. With some programs in our region closing or threatening to close, enquiries regarding these specific programs have increased dramatically, and many investors are doing their best to apply before the changes are implemented.
It is no surprise then, that the top three programs enquired about are the Portugal Golden Residence Permit Program, the Spain Residence by Investment Program, and the Greece Golden Visa Program. Portugal’s golden visa is coming to an end, Greece has announced that effective 1 August 2023, the real estate investment will double to USD 500,000 in certain parts of the country, including most of Athens, Thessaloniki, and the islands of Mykonos and Santorini, and there are rumors regarding possible changes to Spain’s real estate requirements.
Regardless of program changes, we have seen a steady rise in enquiries related to these three Mediterranean countries in recent years, with an increasing number of those enquiries coming from Britain. Looking at this year, between January and the end of April the total enquiries from UK investors is more than double the number of enquiries from any other nationality in Europe.
The second highest number of enquiries comes from Türkiye, showing a continued and steadily growing interest in alternative residence or additional citizenships for Turkish nationals. These increases are reflected throughout Europe, with a significant increase in interest in each country in 2023.
Another Mediterranean program that has is attracting a great deal of attention in 2023 in particular is the Italy Residence by Investment Program, with enquiries in the first four months of the year already at 77% of the total 2022 enquiries. While this could be attributed to the potential program closures in Portugal and Spain, Italy is an attractive option as while there is no requirement for permit holders to spend any minimum number of days in the country, those who choose to make Italy their tax domicile can pay an annual lump sum of EUR 100,000 on any foreign-sourced income under the flat tax regime.
The investment migration sector is fluid and dynamic. As one program closes or adjusts its offering, two more are launched and flourish. Our client base is as accustomed to change as the sector itself and continues to expand at unprecedented levels.