COVID-19 update – Golden Visa and citizenship schemes
The Coronavirus outbreak has brought widespread disruptions to businesses and services worldwide and the investment migration industry is no exception. The global GDP is expected to shrink by 1 per cent in 2020 instead of growing a projected 2.5 percent.
With the freedom of movement and mobility coming to a halt, the pandemic has brought important changes to the Citizenship and Golden visa industry, most importantly requiring all government services move to online platforms.
The CBI and RBI industry currently are facing disruptions, such as;
- Delays in due diligence report and passport delivery services
- Flights and travel coming to a halt, making it impossible to make personal visits to complete formalities
- The real-estate market in Europe has been largely affected by the pandemic with declining sales and land registry offices are not able to offer appointments for property registrations due to shutdown
- Immigration offices remain closed in Spain, Greece and Portugal with expiring visas and residence permits automatically extended validity until the period of emergency
With all the chaos on one side, there are also some good news;
1. Global pandemic underlined the importance of CBI/Golden visa schemes are vital in the fight against Covid-19. The revenues from CBI/RBI schemes are also used for Covid-19 research of vaccines, production of masks and test kits.
2. Many agents are reporting surge in inquires for citizenship and golden visa programs
3. Citizenship has become a most valuable investment.
4. Investors from China are still interested in the real estate markets in Greece and Portugal, but also Turkey.
5. All Caribbean programs and Vanuatu have switched to CBI online platforms to receive applications without any disruptions, making it easier and faster to file applications.
Please let us take a quick look below at what is happening across the investment migration industry:
Malta will be relaunching its investor citizenship program with new IIP2, once the quota of 1,800 is reached. Malta will not do shortcuts when it comes to strict vetting of applicants. Due to Covid-19 Malta will relax some rules on application deadlines and timelines.
Cyprus will be expediting processing of all pending investment scheme applications to attract more investments into the country and avoid slump in the real estate sector due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Cyprus will be temporarily lift its annual quota limits of 700 applications for this year 2020. Cyprus will be further relaxing rules; such as Politically Exposed Persons (PEP’s) will be allowed to apply for the Cyprus Investment Program (CIP).
Vanuatu’s elected new Prime Minister and its two citizenship programs (DSP/VCP) will continue without any disruptions. Vanuatu switched to accepting online applications for it citizenship by investment programs. Last week Vanuatu announced a slight increase in the due diligence fee to $5,000 per person – and all applicants will be screened through third party due diligence firms.
Vanuatu’s CIP proved to be a vital lifeline amidst double disasters last month; the Cyclone Harold and Covid-19.
Portugal will allot all golden visa appoints from June in chronological order once the shutdown is over. SEF (the Government entity) will be offering limited services on urgent basis. Portugal will not be making any changes to the golden visa scheme due to Covid-19 and all will continue as usual.
Saint Lucia reduces prices for families under donation option and introduces Covid-19 govenrment bonds for $250,000 for citizenship by investment. Administration fee is also waived for families applying under real estate
The Covid-19 crisis has a significant impact in the Greek real estate market. Especially for the Golden VISA program, the Chinese market is approximately 70% of the clientele, therefore all the action on this side has stopped.
Despite Greece announcing closure of its immigration offices, last month the applications for golden visas remained open and are not suspended yet.
Saint Kitts and Nevis (“SKN”)
CBI has made a significant contribution to the local economy, with St. Kitts and Nevis achieving the fourth highest GDP per capita in the Caribbean. St Kitts has announced no rules will be relaxed and there will be no price cuts and no discounts.
Any applicants who would present security or reputational risks to the CBI programme and to the nation of SKN are turned away, according to Mr. Les Khan, CEO of the CIU in SKN.
Montenegro is beginning to see the results of the CIP introduced last year. The construction of development projects in Northern Montenegro funded by CBI continues without any distruptions due to Covid-19.
Montenegro has received 5 applications and one application has been approved under the special citizenship scheme, which has one single 2,000 quota limit.
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua has launched University of West Indies (“UWI”) fund for $150,000 under CIP regulations. One child will be eligible for free UWI scholarship for one year.