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Residence and Citizenship by Investment

Future-Proofing Fortunes: How to Turn Geopolitical Risks into Global Opportunities

Basil Mohr-Elzeki

Basil Mohr-Elzeki

Basil Mohr-Elzeki is Head of Private Clients – Americas at Henley & Partners.

In an increasingly complex world driven by political spectacles, social fissures, and economic uncertainties, having backup plans in place just makes good business sense. As American writer William Arthur Ward said, “The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails.” For globally-minded high- and ultra-high-net-worth individuals, residence and citizenship by investment programs are powerful tools to future-proof fortunes against adversity and harness change for advantage.

Portugal in pole position

American demand for investment migration is at an all-time high at Henley & Partners, and the Portugal Golden Residence Permit Program ranks first choice for US investors seeking European domiciles. The country offers business-friendly policies with great market opportunities as well as political stability, low crime, a mild Mediterranean climate, and established expat communities.

Businessman with luggage waiting in the airport looking out window as plane takes off

With consistently high living standards, Portugal strikes an optimal lifestyle–value balance for American families relative to costlier jurisdictions such as Monaco or Singapore. Access to acclaimed universities at affordable tuition rates across Europe is another draw for those planning their children’s global education and mobility. Add direct flights connecting North America to Lisbon and Porto, and Portugal emerges as an obvious front-runner residence plan that offers outstanding future optionality.

All roads lead to Europe

Besides Portugal, Malta’s Citizenship by Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment process, which allows for the granting of citizenship by a certificate of naturalization to foreign individuals and their families who contribute to the country’s economic development following a 36-month (or, by exception, 12-month) residence period has long been favored by American investors.

European residence programs in Greece, Italy, and Spain similarly place high on American wish lists. US investors are drawn programs such as these, as well as Austria’s, which have a pathway to citizenship of a European Union country with no relocation required, meaning they and their families can primarily reside in the USA but have the option to move at any point to any of the 27 member states.

The Greece Golden Visa Program has steadily gained prominence as one of Europe’s most attractive and affordable residence options. With no requirement to reside in the country to maintain residence status, investors can secure a permit within two to three months by purchasing real estate valued at just EUR 250,000 — a property that may be sublet for additional income. However, investors should note that in parts of the country, including most of Athens, Thessaloniki, and the islands of Mykonos and Santorini, minimum investment thresholds currently start at USD 500,000, with plans announced by the prime minister to raise this to USD 800,000 in select areas. As a rising star for foreign investment, Athens increasingly lures global capital through enticing tax incentives and a welcoming pro-business climate.

The Spain Residence by Investment Program is soaring in popularity, and here a minimum real estate investment of EUR 500,000 in one or several properties secures a three-year residence permit (renewable) for the main investor, as well as their spouse or partner (including unmarried or same-sex unions), all economically dependent children (adult children must be full-time students), and parents over the age of 65. As in Greece, there is no requirement to relocate and properties can be sublet. Other options are investment funds, bank deposits, or listed company shares in Spanish financial institutions with a minimum value of EUR 1 million or investment in government bonds with a minimum value of EUR 2 million. Spain’s path to citizenship after 10 years of residence, which further expands mobility rights across the region and overseas, is reduced to just two years for citizens of 22 Ibero-American countries, among several others. However, Spain does not recognize dual citizenship with the USA.

And between Rome’s storied monuments, Florence’s Renaissance aura, and Sicily’s stunning vineyards, Italy dazzles with its legendary dolce vita lifestyle. For American investors, European golden visas confer key benefits such as visa-free travel, global business opportunities and entry points to the European Union, political stability, superior healthcare, world-class education, and some of the strongest passports for seamless global mobility.

Perennial American favorites

While Europe dominates preferences today, the Caribbean has always been a popular choice among America’s most affluent. In the Caribbean Basin, the citizenship programs of St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda top American demand while Grenada’s is on the rise. In just a few months all three confer the full benefits of citizenship for life.

The Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Program was designed and implemented in 2012 by Henley & Partners under a government mandate and appeals to investors who seek alternative citizenship through investing a minimum of USD 200,000 in real estate, or business with a minimum of USD 1.5 million as an individual or a joint purchase where each investor contributes at least USD 400,000, totaling a minimum of USD 5 million, or by making a minimum contribution to the National Development Fund of USD 100,000 or to the University of the West Indies of USD 150,000. With excellent air links to North America and Europe and some 365 beaches of white sand and turquoise waters, the islands of Antigua and Barbuda are among the most beautiful places in the world in which to live or own a vacation home.

The Grenada Citizenship by Investment Program was launched shortly after Antigua’s in August 2013 as a means of developing the country’s economy. There are two key options for investors, namely, a minimum real estate purchase of USD 220,000 from a government-approved project or a contribution to the National Transformation Fund with a minimum of USD 150,000 for a single applicant or USD 200,000 for a family of up to four members. Grenada is emerging as a luxury hotspot in the region, with its pristine beaches and year-round temperate climate. It also offers trade and investment opportunities, political stability, a high quality of life, low crime, and a relatively unspoilt natural environment.

As wealth structuring tools, residence and citizenship by investment programs offer efficient flexibility to rearrange status, residence, citizenship, and taxation variables for optimal outcomes. With intelligent financial planning guided by investment migration expertise, investors gain the ultimate insurance policy against adverse events — global mobility paired with business continuity.

Rather than just passive safety nets, alternative residence and citizenship represent proactive springboards to turn uncertainty into opportunity. They unlock business expansion flexibility, global career mobility for entire families, and elevated lifestyle choices, and deliver useful jurisdictional redundancies to future-proof personal, financial, and succession planning.

With world volatility at generational highs, having a plan B is no longer enough. Tomorrow’s fortunes will depend on having a diverse portfolio of residence and citizenship options across different geographies, responsive policy regimes and progressive economies. By adapting to the winds of change with vision and pragmatism, investors transform risk into resilience, uncertainty into opportunity, and fears into an abundance mindset capable of flourishing anywhere worldwide.

Rising interest in Australasia

Beyond Europe and the Caribbean, wealthy Americans are also increasingly eyeing Australasian alternatives in Australia and New Zealand. Both countries are proving popular with American investors seeking domiciles in the region. In January 2024, the Australian government announced that the Business Innovation and Investment Program would close but a new investor program is anticipated later in the year so interested parties should watch this space. Alternatively, Australia’s Global Talent Independent Program is a streamlined pathway to permanent residence for highly skilled executives, businesspeople, entrepreneurs, and professionals, designed to grow Australia’s innovation and tech economies. New Zealand’s Active Investor Plus Visa Program requires investing between NZD 5 million and NZD 15 million over the course of four years in return for being able to live, work, and study in the country indefinitely.

The appeal of Australian and Kiwi residence visas lies in the unmatched quality of life both countries offer thanks to their economic and political stability, security, world-class infrastructure, clean environments, and rich natural landscapes. Obtaining residence also opens doors to buying property in a region witnessing substantial long-term capital appreciation.

Additionally, Australia and New Zealand provide strategic footholds into the economically vibrant Asia-Pacific region, offering prime bases to structure global operations and expansion with preferential local access.

The winds always shift

Rather than betting on any particular administration, election outcome, or policy regime, smart capital stays flexible and unemotional, adjusting strategic sails to capture the prevailing winds of opportunity — wherever in the world they may blow.

While crises breed media hysterics and dinner party pessimism, they equally create openings for the bold. History has repeatedly shown determined realists can turn storms into tailwinds by intelligently routing capital and assets to safety today, with a view towards outsized returns tomorrow.

With resilience and patience, those who escape overreaction avoid capsizing, instead harnessing typhoons to reach prosperous new shores. Storm-tested investors recognize that with prudent planning guided by investment migration expertise, ominous risks rapidly transform into global opportunities.

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Henley & Partners assists international clients in obtaining residence and citizenship under the respective programs. Contact us to arrange an initial private consultation.


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