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Two Key Trends Driving Increased Interest in Golden-VISA Programs in 2024

Author: Rosalia Torres, Co-founder at Arish Capital Partners

Last year, the number of HNWI investors participating in Golden Visa programs offered through an EU country met an all-time high. According to Bloomberg, in one month alone, Portugal issued 180 Golden Visas, while Greece, which doubled its investment threshold from €250,000 to €500,000 for certain parts of the country last year, reported an 87% rise in the number of Golden VISA issued up from the year before, while Spain and Italy reported an annual increase of 60% and 50% respectively. 

Even though many EU member states are working to tighten restrictions or terminate their citizenship by investment programs, 2024 is shaping up to be an even bigger year for those of us who establish and manage real estate funds that qualify investors for a Golden VISA. 

One factor driving demand is the recent rise of, and growing support for, authoritarian leaders and pro-nationalist regimes, in a year when more than 64 countries are holding major elections, including the US, the UK, and the EU itself.

While most of the clients I work with, particularly those from the United States, do not expect to actually relocate, the stakes are high enough that they want to have a Plan B in place just in case the worst happens And that means having a second passport, particularly one issued by an EU country that guarantees them hassle-free visa-less travel to more than 150 nations worldwide, more than any other passport provides. 

Indeed, we need not look any further than the recent passage of Article 23 which makes it illegal to have any materials or information that could be deemed “harmful” to the national security of China, e.g. anything viewed as damaging to President Xi Jinping and his ruling Chinese Communist Party. According to The New York Times, Hong Kong residents are trying to rid themselves of books, T-shirts, video or film footage, computer files, and other documents that could be construed as pro-democratic and could result in them being thrown in jail for decades. 

Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents already have chosen to migrate rather than be subject to repressive rule, and a recent poll found that 38% of Hong Kong residents would relocate if they had the opportunity to do so. While most Hong Kong migrants seem to be opting to relocate to the UK, a growing number of my clients expressing interest in Golden Visa programs in Southern Europe are from South Asian countries like Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Indonesia.

We also have been getting an increasing amount of interest from HNWI investors in the Philippines, which brings me to the second major factor driving the demand for second residency status in stable EU countries like Portugal, Greece, and Spain. As an archipelago nation in the Pacific, the Philippines ranks fourth in the list of countries most impacted by climate-related catastrophes over the past 20 years, according to the Global Climate Risk Index. Yet it is not only citizens of island nations that will find it difficult to survive the adverse impact of climate change. 

According to the World Bank, as many as 216 million people, half of them from Africa, are expected to become climate migrants by 2050, though most will have little choice but to simply move from one part of their country where conditions are harsh to another part of the country where living is slightly less harsh.

Wealthy people, of course, particularly those earning more than two million dollars a year, have far more options. Yet many of the places where the world’s richest people reside, from Singapore and Hong Kong to Qatar and the UAE, from top cities on the East, Gulf, and West Coasts of the United States to Hawaii, the Cayman Islands, and Aruba, are vulnerable to the ravages of climate change, prompting many to move inland or establish second or third residences elsewhere.  

In fact, many European countries have established Golden VISA programs to attract investment from the wealthy specifically to help these nations build much-needed infrastructure and eco-friendly sustainable housing and other facilities in anticipation of the estimated 6.6 million migrants from around the world expected to relocate to the EU by 2026. 

By investing in real estate projects people not only have the opportunity to contribute to strengthening the economies of these countries, through the development of assisted living facilities, student housing, co-working and co-living spaces, and other residential and commercial complexes but through these real estate investments can also achieve residency/citizenship in Portugal, Greece and Spain

It’s why I love working with my clients. I believe we go far beyond the financial benefits of risk-adjusted and high-return real estate investments. I love offering people access to new opportunities, the freedom of movement, securing their mobility throughout Europe, and proving that we do not need to be limited to the rights of places we are born in by truly becoming global citizens and embracing the power of globalization.

Rosalia Torres is a successful entrepreneur, keynote speaker, co-founder, partner, and head of sales and international partnerships at Arish Capital Partners, an international real estate investment and development firm that builds commercial and residential properties in the UK, EU, and emerging markets worldwide. Rosalia helps HNWIs capitalize on their investments through Golden VISA-eligible real estate funds that put them and their families on a pathway to EU citizenship.


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