Super-wealthy individuals turn to CIPs as a backup plan, an immigration advisory firm says

Many ultra-rich travellers are seeking a safe, remote place where they can nestle with their family should another outbreak transpire.


This is the elite world of investment migration, where passport applications are based not on nationality or citizenship, but on wealth and the willingness to move it around the planet.

These so-called citizen-by-investment programs, or CIPs, are presently a growth industry, as are residence-by-investment arrangements, also known as "golden visas."

They are a way for well-off individuals to not only branch out their portfolio by moving their money into a country but also receive the benefits of citizenship, including a new passport.

Over the past five to 10 years, the main motivations amid CIP participants -- who tend to have a net worth of anywhere from $2 million to over $50 million -- have been freedom of movement, tax benefits and lifestyle factors, such as better education or civil liberties.


But with COVID-19 vividly transforming our 2020, some elite families are also considering healthcare, pandemic responses, and potential safe havens to ensure they have a backup plan.

Alternative citizenship

"People want the insurance policy of alternative citizenship, which gives them a Plan B," Adam Abzakh, Head of Middle East for citizenship and residence advisory firm SS Global Partners (SSGP), tells Dubai Route.

"They are also concerned about healthcare and pandemic preparedness because, of course, this may not be the only pandemic in our lifetime.

"Wealthy people don't plan for five to 10 years -- they plan more than 100 years, in terms of wealth and wellbeing."


Whereas mostly anecdotal, SS Global Partners suspects that a recent uptick in interest in CIP can be linked to the coronavirus, health concerns, and general "doomsday predictions."

The company recorded a 49% year-on-year increase in consultation inquiries between January and June of 2020.

And the number of people, who have been referred to the right CBI companies by SSGP to fill an application, increased by 42% when comparing the last quarter of 2019 with the first quarter of 2020.

Specific citizenship programs

When it comes to specific citizenship programs, Montenegro and Cyprus have been the most popular, with new applications up 142% and 75%, respectively, in the first quarter of 2020, compared with the fourth quarter of 2019. Malta meanwhile has retained significant and constant interest.

Montenegro has been one of the most popular CPIs

"Several people in this ultra-high net worth bracket are interested in Cyprus and Malta because it grants the applicant and their family unlimited access and settlement freedom throughout the European Union," says Adam.

"They have not only greater freedom of movement but also better education and healthcare (than in their home countries)."

Spikes in applications

The CIP clientele is changing too: Americans, Indians, Nigerians, Syrian and Lebanese applicants have shown the most significant spikes in applications over the past nine months.

American applications jumped 700% in the first quarter of 2020, compared with the last quarter of 2019.


More Great Dubai Route Stories

In this article: Citizenship, COVID-19, European Union

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