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Residence and Citizenship by Investment

Investment Options for Entrepreneurs Looking to Access the Wealthiest Cities

Dominic Volek

Dominic Volek

Dominic Volek is Group Head of Private Clients and a member of the Executive Committee of Henley & Partners.

In 2024, seven of the Top 10 World’s Wealthiest Cities are situated in countries with investment migration programs, actively fostering foreign direct investment in exchange for residence or citizenship rights, and offering attractive business start-up options. Investment migration is an innovative and strategic mechanism for startup founders to unlock global business opportunities. A growing number of entrepreneurs are turning to residence and citizenship by investment programs to accelerate business growth, maximize profits, and mitigate tax exposure. Through these avenues, they position themselves in hospitable jurisdictions assuring the security of their personal interests, companies, and capital.

Capitalizing on hubs of talented human capital

Our digital transformation has ushered a new wave of Gen Z entrepreneurs into the market. The burgeoning cohort of Gen Z founders and investors is rapidly expanding, a trend projected to continue as industries race towards innovation, swiftly embracing blockchain technology and artificial intelligence. As tech adoption accelerates, the human capital needs of business owners are evolving, underscoring a growing necessity to assemble tech-savvy teams to drive entrepreneurial visions forward.

View of skyscrapers from Marina Bay in Singapore

Establishing a proficient team is paramount for any entrepreneurial venture, rendering it advantageous for business owners to operate in jurisdictions already successful in attracting a pool of highly skilled professionals and pioneering minds. In this vein, the USA, Singapore, and the UK, who all offer business start-up investment migration options, rank prominently in INSEAD’s latest Global Talent Competitiveness Index. Their prowess lies in their ability to attract and retain top-tier human capital.

USA’s EB-5: A gateway to the US market

The US boasts five cities in the Top 20 cities of the World’s Wealthiest Cities ranking, with New York City and the Bay Area taking the first two places overall, Los Angeles in 6th position, Chicago 12th, and Houston 17th.. The US EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program offers a streamlined route to permanent resident status (a Green Card) in a brief timeframe for entrepreneurial investors eyeing opportunities in America. This program allocates EB-5 visas for participants investing in commercial enterprises affiliated with government-approved Regional Centers, aiming to stimulate job creation and economic growth.

Singapore’s Global Investor: A haven for cryptopreneurs

Jurisdictions fostering innovation tend to be investor-friendly, and many are also crypto-friendly. Singapore, ranking 4th on the Top 50 World's Wealthiest Cities list and 1st on the Crypto Adoption Index, stands out as a preferred destination for crypto millionaires. Its innovative legal framework, favorable tax regime, and progressive crypto sector draw ultra-high-net-worth individuals from around the world. The Singapore Global Investor Program presents three investment options, each requiring substantial investment in return for permanent residence.

UK’s Innovator Founder Visa: Empowering business owners

By accessing vibrant business ecosystems in international business centers such as London, which is 5th in the Top 50 World's Wealthiest Cities  ranking, entrepreneurs gain exposure to new ideas, global experts, and potential business partners. The UK's Innovator Founder Visa facilitates this process, allowing business owners to catalyze their success, tap into London’s investment capital market, and stay ahead in their industries. The visa mandates the establishment of a new, scaling business in the UK, aligning with the nation's status as an attractive destination for business and private residence.

Australia’s Global Talent Independent Program: Nurturing top entrepreneurs

Sydney, ranking 8th in the Top 50 World's Wealthiest Cities , attracts top human capital through Australia’s Global Talent Independent Program, offering a streamlined pathway to permanent residence for highly skilled executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals. The program aims to bolster innovation and tech economies, creating opportunities for locals through skills transfer, innovation, and job creation. Applicants must be internationally recognized, currently prominent in their field, and able to provide evidence of outstanding achievements over their career.

Hong Kong (SAR China)’s Entrepreneur option: A strategic choice

Strategically positioned Hong Kong (SAR China), ranking 9th in the Top 50 World's Wealthiest Cities, seeks to attract talent and wealth via its recently relaunched Capital Investment Entrant Scheme (CIES), which requires a minimum investment of HKD 30 million that must be maintained for at least seven years. An alternative is the investment as entrepreneurs option under Hong Kong’s General Employment Policy (GEP). Applicants must have a good education, establish or join a start-up, and make a substantial contribution to Hong Kong’s economy. Both these avenues cater to affluent, well-educated entrepreneurs keen on residing in the financial hub, fostering economic contributions, and bolstering Hong Kong's status as a global business hub.

Canada’s Start-Up Visa Program: Fostering business innovators

Amid geopolitical shifts, politically stable jurisdictions such as Canada are increasingly sought after. Toronto, ranking 13th in the Top 50 World's Wealthiest Cities, attracts entrepreneurs through the Canada Start-Up Visa (SUV) Program. The program invites innovative business proposals, fostering entrepreneurship, and enhancing Canada’s business landscape.

Mitigating tax exposure: Maximizing business success

Entrepreneurs can mitigate tax exposure by securing residence or citizenship in tax-efficient jurisdictions offering reduced corporate tax rates and special incentives. Favorable tax structures ensure larger resources for investment in growth and development. Singapore and the UAE exemplify such jurisdictions, offering attractive tax regimes conducive to business growth and prosperity. Dubai ranks 21st in the Top 50 World's Wealthiest Cities, while Abu Dhabi is top of the Cities to Watch in 2024. The UAE’s golden visa initiative grants entrepreneurs’ access to a very progressive business ecosystem. The country offers cutting-edge banking and financial services solutions and very attractive corporate tax rates that make doing business there a strategic choice for globally minded entrepreneurs.

Building an investment migration portfolio in a changing world

Countries ensuring safety and security remain sought after by international business owners keen on future-proofing their interests. Investment migration has emerged as a crucial tool for entrepreneurs, granting access to leading international wealth hubs and diversifying assets to mitigate risks and seize opportunities. You can secure the right to live, work, study, and invest in leading international wealth hubs such as New York, Singapore, Sydney, Vienna, and Dubai via investment.

Being able to relocate yourself, your family, or your business to a more favorable city or have the option to choose between multiple different cities across the world is an increasingly important aspect of international wealth and legacy planning for private clients. The more jurisdictions a family can access, the more diversified its assets, the lower its exposure to country-specific and regional risks, and the greater the opportunities they can enjoy. Likewise, cities and countries can use investment migration as an innovative financing mechanism to attract the world’s wealthiest and most talented to their shores.

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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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