Brexit forces well-heeled Britons to seek ways to buy citizenship overseas
LONDON (UK) – With the prospect of a post-Brexit trade pact between the U and the UK appearing bleak, the number of Britons wanting to buy citizenship from nations offering visa-free access to the EU has recorded a surge, according to investment migration companies.
Astons, an investment immigration company, said it witnessed a 50% and 30% year-on-year increase in the number of clients seeking Cypriot or Greek citizenship during this quarter. This comes less than four months before Britons lose their freedom of movement across the EU.
Similarly, Henley & Partners also witnessed a rise in queries for advice on investment migration to nations like Malta, Portugal, Austria and a host of Caribbean islands, which offer a range of residency rights, visa-free travel to the EU and citizenship to investors in local business or property.
Because of close ties with members of the EU, citizens of certain island states such as St Lucia and St Kitts & Nevis enjoy preferred access to the bloc.
“This isn’t about tourists. This is the UK high net worth community that have a constant need to travel to and spend significant time in the EU,” said Henley & Partners director Paddy Blewer.
“This is investment migration as a volatility hedge and a component in a high net worth portfolio value defence strategy,” he said.
The demand for additional citizenships is on the rise even as the EU is exploring ways to curb member states from selling passports and visas to wealthy foreigners.
Residency in Cyprus can be bought for 300,000 euro (276,084.74 pounds) within two months of buying a property. Citizenship takes another six months and requires a minimum property investment of 2 million euros.
“Both Cypriot and Caribbean investments are proving very popular … primarily driven by high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) from the UK who have an eye on the future and life after Brexit,” said Astons spokesman Konstantin Kaminskiy.
According to Henley & Partners, the volume of engagement with clients who need alternative citizenship or residence by investment jumped 40% in Q1 compared to the same period last year.
The firm said more clients are seeking Caribbean citizenship as it gives them better access to the EU with a lower minimum investment benchmark and quicker processing.
Citizenship of Saint Lucia comes with visa-free travel to 146 countries for a minimum investment of 76,152 pounds.
One can become a citizen of St Kitts and Nevis for less than 40,000 pounds and it comes with visa-free travel to 156 countries in around 60 days.
Although Malta offers citizenship for just 1 million pounds of investment, the whole process takes up to 14 months.