Immigration of Indian nationals to foreign countries via various investor-visa programmes was not very popular until a few years ago. Lately, increasing number of Indians are considering the option of immigration to countries such as US, Canada and certain European countries by investing in businesses in these countries. The goal or motivation for obtaining a foreign passport can be varied – ranges from a better standard of living, education, advanced healthcare, business opportunities – to a visa-free ease of travel.
Many countries including USA, Canada, Europe, Caribbean nations, Australia, Singapore, New Zealand, etc. offer permanent residence and/or citizenship through investment.
USA has been attracting the highest numbers of overseas investors through its investment program, popularly known as the EB-program, with approximately 10,000 EB-5 applications being accepted every year. EB – 5 immigrant visa category allows a foreign national to invest in the U.S. and obtain green card (permanent resident status), based on which the investor and his family live, study and/or work in the U.S. A green card holder is eligible to apply for US citizenship after 5 years of maintain green card status (and fulfilling other criteria). US citizenship allows a person visa-free travel or visa on arrival to 174 countries.
Canada is the next favourable destination for overseas investors seeking to obtain Canadian citizenship. The Manitoba Business investor category enables investors to establish permanent residence in Manitoba for the purpose of either starting their own business or buying an existing one. The investor must have a net worth of at least $350,000 CAD, must make a minimum investment of $150,000 CAD into the business, play an active role in the management, intend to live in Manitoba, and must have 3 years experience of running a similar business. The investor needs to make a deposit of $75,000 CAD to the Government of Manitoba which will be returned to the investor. Upon attaining Canadian citizenship, a person is allowed visa-free travel or visa on arrival to 154 countries on a Canadian passport.
Among the European countries, Malta and Cyprus, each have their Individual Investor Programs. For Cyprus, investors can make an investment of €2,000,000 in real-estate or an investment of at least €2,000,000 in shares and/or bonds and must also donate a minimum of €500,000 in Cyprus’s Research and Technology Fund or; by way of direct investment of minimum €5,000,000 into Cyprus Bank or; a combination of the above options, for at least 3 years to gain residency permit. The processing period for the application is approximately 2-3 months. For Malta, an investor must invest a minimum value of €350,000 in real estate in Malta or lease a residential immovable property in Malta at an annual rent of at least € 16,000; or make a contribution to the National Development and Social Fund; or invest in stocks, bonds or special purpose vehicles for at least 5 years. The processing period for the application is approximately 6 to 12 months. Upon acquiring citizenship, the Malta passport allows visa-free travel to more than 160 countries.
In New Zealand, the investor visa program is called as the Investor Plus Visa categories. Under this program, the investor must have 3 years of business experience, must be under the age of 65, must spend at least 88 days in New Zealand over 3 years, and invest at least $8 million (New Zealand Dollars) over a period of 3 years. With New Zealand passport, one can travel to 172 countries visa-free or visa on arrival.
Sukanya Raman, Immigration Executive
Keywords – Immigration, Investment, Visa and Citizenship