The allure of Europe prevails in 2023, with European residence and citizenship by investment programs retaining the top spots in Henley & Partners’ latest rankings of the most sought-after investment migration programs in the world. Malta secures 1st place in the Global Citizenship Program Index for the eighth consecutive year, while the Portugal Golden Residence Permit Program again tops the Global Residence Program Index.
The two indexes — published in the 2023 edition of the Investment Migration Programs report, which is published annually by Henley & Partners — offer a systematic analysis and comprehensive benchmarking of the world’s most important residence and citizenship by investment programs, providing the gold standard in the sector. This year’s edition includes comprehensive analyses and comparisons of 40 programs, which have been appraised by a panel of distinguished independent experts including leading academic researchers, country risk specialists, economists, independent expert immigration and citizenship lawyers, and other specialists, who consider a broad range of pertinent factors. Interactive digital comparisons of the programs are also available, enabling global investors and wealthy families to select what matters most to them when weighing up their options.
Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, international immigration and citizenship law expert and Chairman of Henley & Partners, says Investment Migration Programs 2023 is essential for all those interested in keeping up to date with developments in the investment migration sector or considering residence or citizenship by investment as options for accessing new opportunities. “The publication is important not only for private clients and their advisors and other industry professionals, but also for government policy makers looking to manage investment migration programs to achieve greater fiscal autonomy and economic growth. In this time of extreme volatility, nation states are using residence and citizenship by investment programs as an innovative financing tool to allocate investors’ funds to national or regional social, infrastructure, and development projects that benefit their citizens and residents.”
Namibia Residence by Investment – The world’s newest program
While not featured in the publication, as today marks its launch, Henley & Partners has announced the world’s latest residence by investment option — and Africa’s second: The Namibia Residence by Investment Program. For a minimum real estate investment of USD 316,000, investors acquire the right to live, do business, and study in Namibia, which offers a highly stable political and economic environment. The democratic and safe country is one of Africa’s gems, with impressive infrastructure — its road network has been ranked 1st in Africa for five consecutive years — good airlinks, and an excellent quality of life. The country has the richest known marine diamond deposits in the world and is also one of the continent’s prime tourist destinations, with abundant wildlife and some of the highest dunes in the world. Its vast, unpolluted landscapes have become a location of choice for Hollywood filmmakers.
Group Head of Private Clients at Henley & Partners, Dominic Volek, says “We are really delighted to announce this innovative new residence by investment offering in Africa. In the ‘work and do business from anywhere’ era, astute entrepreneurs and investors now recognize that by extending their wealth planning and legacy management strategies to include residence and citizenship by investment, they can open up new global business opportunities, spread their risks across different jurisdictions, and take advantage of international opportunities for themselves and their families in countries of their choice. The Namibian government provides many opportunities for international investors seeking a foothold and growth on the African continent, including tax incentives, financing, and a one-stop bureau service for international companies. Added to this are its unique natural beauty and abundance of space and tranquility, a combination that makes Namibia a highly desirable offering.”
Citizenship programs: Malta holds the crown
The Global Citizenship Program Index ranks 14 programs, and Malta’s Granting of Citizenship for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment sees the country score 77 out of 100, taking first place. The regulations governing the program allow for the granting of citizenship by a certificate of naturalization to foreign individuals and their families who contribute to the country’s economic development. This is possible following a 36-month residence period, or by exception a 12-month residence period. In 2nd place scoring 74 is Austria’s citizenship by investment offering. Montenegro’s citizenship program ranks 3rd with a score of 71, although the program has been concluded for the time being, pending the planned launch of a revised offering.
Caribbean island nations occupy the middle of the rankings, with the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Program and the St. Lucia Citizenship by Investment Program sharing 4th position, each scoring 70. The Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Program is joint-5th with the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program, each scoring 69, and the Dominica Citizenship by Investment Program is in 6th place with a score of 68.
The popular Türkiye Citizenship by Investment Program is in 7th place with a score of 66, followed the MENA duo of Egypt and the Jordan Citizenship by Investment Program in joint-8th spot, each scoring 65. The lower ranks are occupied by the North Macedonia Citizenship by Investment Program in 9th place, scoring 64, and bottom-ranked Cambodia in 11th place with a score of 53.
Residence programs: Portugal prevails
Europe also predominates in the upper rankings of the Global Residence Program Index, with European programs occupying four of the Top 5 positions. With a score of 74 out of 100, the Portugal Golden Residence Permit Program ranks 1st overall out of the 26 programs considered. The Austria Private Residence Program takes 2nd place, scoring 73, with the extremely popular Mediterranean Greece Golden Visa Program and Italy Residence by Investment Program sharing 3rd place with the Swiss Residence Program — a service package developed by Henley & Partners combining private residence with the Swiss forfait tax provisions — all three programs scoring 72.
The UK is placed 4th, with the UK Innovator Program scoring 71, and Canada is 5th, with the Canada Start-Up Visa Program scoring 69. The Latvia Residence by Investment Program shares 6th place with newcomer to the index, the Luxembourg Residence by Investment Program, with the two EU member states each scoring 66. Another Mediterranean pair, the Malta Permanent Residence Programme and the sought-after Spain Residence by Investment Program, share 7th spot, each scoring 65, and the Asia-Pacific duo Australia and Singapore are joint 8th, with the Australia Business Innovation and Investment Program and Singapore Global Investor Program each scoring 64.
UAE and US share 10th spot in 2023
Four countries share the 9th ranking with scores of 62 — the Cyprus Permanent Residence Program, Ireland Residence by Investment Program (recently terminated), Jersey Residence by Investment, and Panama Residence by Investment Program, and the 10th spot is taken up by two significant wealth hubs — the UAE and the US — with UAE Residence by Investment and the US EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program both scoring 61.
Further down in the index, another four Asia-Pacific countries take up the next two rankings, with the New Zealand Active Investor Plus Visa Program and the Thailand Elite Residence Program joint 11th with scores of 59, and the Hong Kong Visa Programs and South Korea’s residence by investment program joint 12th with scores of 58. The 13th place is shared by Monaco Residence by Investment and the Mauritius Residence by Investment Program — Africa’s first residence program — with scores of 56, and Malaysia, which offers the Malaysia My Second Home Program and the Premium Visa Program, ranks 14th with a score of 50.
Unprecedented interest in domicile diversification
Dr. Juerg Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners, says robust comparative analyses and benchmarking tools such as the Global Residence Program Index and the Global Citizenship Program Index are much-needed. “There has been significant and ongoing growth in the demand for investment migration programs in the past year. Henley & Partners received 45.5% more enquiries in 2022, surpassing a record-breaking 2021. Last year US-Americans were the top nationality seeking alternative residence and citizenship options. Along with our Henley Ultimate Portfolio tool, which allows you to build your own ultimate portfolio of complementary residences and citizenships to unlock global mobility, business and lifestyle access, the two digital indexes are indispensable resources that assist investors to make data-driven decisions to futureproof their wealth and their families.”