Decoded: where the super rich Indians migrate and why

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NEW DELHI: High-net-worth individuals from India, the US and the UK accounted for the bulk of investment migration applications in 2021, according to a report by the Residency and Citizenship Planning Society Henley & Partners.
Indians accounted for the highest number of investment migration applications in 2021 and applications within this group have surged by 54% annually.
Investment migration refers to wealthy investors who acquire alternative residency or additional citizenship in exchange for a substantial contribution to the host country.
More than six lakh Indians have renounced their citizenship in the past five years, according to Foreign Office data, with 40% of them in the United States. The total number also included those who benefited from a golden visa – where you invest in countries like, for example, Portugal, Malta or Cyprus in exchange for residency or citizenship.

Around 1,44,017 people renounced their Indian citizenship in 2019, which was the highest in the past five years. The lowest was in 2020 at 85,248, and that’s likely because of the Covid-19 pandemic. At 11,287, 2021 saw the biggest increase in the number of Indians renouncing their citizenship as travel and outdoor restrictions around the world began to ease. Note: Data for 2021 is only available through September 2021.
Global Wealth Migration Review statistics show that 2% of Indian millionaires had already flocked overseas in 2020. While China topped the migration list with a total of 16,000 High Networth Individuals exiting, India came second with 7,000 releases and Russia 5,500 releases.
So where to do India’s super rich where to migrate?
While Portugal tops the list, Malta and Greece also feature in the top 5 countries Indians want to move to.

“While India remains an exceptionally exciting place for business activities, business growth and high-return investments, wealthy families are becoming increasingly cosmopolitan and transnational and wish to diversify some of their wealth abroad. Families see the benefits of investment migration not only as a way to improve their mobility, or for lifestyle and educational purposes, but also as a way to access global markets, protect their families’ future and to have an insurance policy in place to diversify their homes as a hedge in this volatile world we live in.” explained Nirbhay Handa, Group Head of Business Development at Henley & Partners.
Until a few years ago, India’s investment migration market was largely geared towards the US EB-5 program, but now many European countries, including Spain, Portugal and Malta, are increasingly moreover considered as places of residence for retirement or holidays. places to do business and enjoy lifestyle benefits.
The alternative residence has now become a legitimate wealth management tool since it is the main determinant of any macro-stimuli to one’s business or to one’s wealth preservation initiatives.
“In the investment world, it is considered good practice to invest in different regions and asset classes, from equities to real estate, to spread risk and find the greatest value. “The more jurisdictions you have access to, the more diversified your assets and opportunities are, and the lower your exposure to country-specific risks,” Handa added.
Not only wealthy Indians, but several start-up entrepreneurs are also interested in the multiple residencies offered either through structured residency investment programs in Portugal or Malta, or setting up businesses in countries like the Emirates. Arab Emirates or talent-based visas offered by Australia and Singapore.
But why Portugal?
Portugal is the number one choice for those opting for the structured residency program.
With a minimum investment of €280,000 in real estate, the Portugal Golden Residence Permit program is one of the most popular residency programs in Europe, giving successful applicants the right to live, work and study in Portugal as well as visa-free travel within the European Schengen area. region. This also comes with the ability to apply for citizenship after five years.
The program is seen as a relatively easier way to obtain alternative residency in Portugal, particularly due to its low physical presence requirement (investors are only required to live in Portugal 7-14 days per year). The application approval process is also faster and usually only takes a year.
“With high scores for its low investment amount, sellability, and crypto compatibility, investing in real estate in this EU member state is a wise move that many global investors have already made” , Henley & Partners said in a report.
However, earlier this year the rules were changed slightly.
Although the minimum amount of investment in real estate does not change, buying residential property in the coastal cities of Lisbon, Porto and the southernmost region of the Algarve, which were hot spots in the Real estate, is no longer an option due to soaring real estate rates in these popular scenic destinations, as well as to redirect investment to low-density areas of the country.
“. Commercial property investment may still be permitted in these coastal regions. We anticipate that historic centers will become more attractive to those interested in applying for PGV via the residential property purchase route, as well as regions such as Alta de Lisboa, Marvilla, Campanha, Almada, Loures, Vila Nova de Gaia and Maia,” said Shilpa Menon, Senior Director India-LCR Capital Partners.
LCR Capital Partners expects that private equity/venture capital fund routes through the Portugal Golden Visa will become more popular, accounting for a greater share of applications in the future.
“. In the case of private equity / VC funds, the investment amount has increased by 50% from EUR 350,000 to EUR 500,000. However, sophisticated investors often prefer this option because it is a regulated, hassle-free and tax-efficient way to achieve PGV that also offers the opportunity to earn a good return on their capital at the end of the 5-7 year investment period,” Menon said.
Data from Strokes and Ground Unipessoal LDA, a Portugal-based property developer, shows that even with the increased minimum investment rule for venture capital funds, the share of funds as an asset class is from 9% in 2021 to 14% in 2022 so far.
What’s so great about Malta?
The Malta Permanent Residence Program grants qualified applicants a Maltese Residence Permit, which provides visa-free access to the European Schengen Area. The minimum contribution is EUR 175,000 for mixed capital requirements.
Malta has a diverse economy comprising of industries such as IT, manufacturing and gaming. The country also offers a high standard of living at an affordable cost with an English-speaking environment, which is a major draw for international residents. Moreover, the location of the island between Europe, North Africa and the Middle East is very attractive for entrepreneurs.
“Portugal Golden Visa has always been an attractive alternative residency program, but Malta’s recently structured permanent residency program is also starting to gain traction. Families are likely to compare the two options before making a decision on The capital threshold to qualify for permanent residency in Malta is lower than Portugal’s Golden Visa, which also makes it attractive,” Handa said.
Other options researched
The Greece Golden Visa program not only offers expedited residency in the country, but successful applicants and their families can also benefit from visa-free access to the European Schengen area, subsidized healthcare and public education in Greece within two months of their application. They should invest in real estate with a minimum value of 250,000 euros.
The EB-5 visa is a United States visa created by the Immigration Act of 1990 to obtain a green card for foreign investors and their families (spouse and dependents under the age of 21) wishing to a significant investment in the United States. The purpose of the EB-5 visa is to stimulate the US economy through job creation and capital investment by providing foreign immigrant investors with all the benefits of permanent residence in the United States. The minimum investment requirement has been raised to $800,000 in Targeted Employment Areas (TEAs)
The Australian Global Talent Visa is an accelerated visa program with a streamlined path to permanent residency for talented individuals. It was designed to develop Australia’s innovation and technology economies with the aim of driving economic recovery, improving resilience and boosting competitiveness by attracting dynamic and highly skilled people to settle on its safe coasts. India is among the top countries interested in the Global Talent visa program along with the UK and the US, according to statistics from the Australian Department of Home Affairs.
Successful applicants can obtain expedited permanent residency for the whole family within six weeks, making the program extremely attractive and ultimately driving demand for real estate. No investment is required for this visa, only application, processing and other related fees.
What are the benefits of holding a golden visa?
A golden visa offers families access to new markets and a wealth of business, professional, educational, health, tax and lifestyle opportunities globally, for present and future generations.
Many golden visa programs allow the successful applicant to apply for citizenship after a few years of residence, such as the Golden Residence Permit program in Portugal, which offers eligibility for citizenship after five years.
The Greece Golden Visa program allows investors to apply for citizenship after seven years, and the Residency by Investment program in Italy after 10 years.
“Providing an increased option around the world as well as the ability to hedge against potential risk and volatility, Golden Visas enable HNWIs and their families to secure an alternative safe haven, enrich and expand their lifestyle and business opportunities, to enjoy a high quality of life and access to excellent infrastructure, to access world-class healthcare in state-of-the-art institutions and to attend educational institutions of first order,” said Henley and Partners.
Buying or renting real estate is a key driver and residency requirement by investment schemes, with popular European destinations such as Cyprus, Greece, Malta and Portugal. Real estate-related golden visa programs have the added benefit of improved options for relocation or retirement (or both).

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