The catastrophic impact of COVID-19 on our global economy is unprecedented and surreal. The recent report on COVID-19 Crisis Through a Migration Lens by World Bank Group offers us a sneak peek into how the COVID-19 pandemic caused a disruption in the most affected countries’ GDP growth (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United States), in comparison to all past pandemics since the 1900s, and the ultimate disaster, as it turns out, befalls us–the COVID-19 sufferers (Figure 1.).
“Economic activity,” begins the UN in a June report, “is shrinking at an exceptional scale and speed,” with GDP in emerging economies “projected to contract, on average, by 3.2 percent in 2020.” Amidst such a disastrous backdrop, however, multiple immigration law firms, including HLG, are witnessing surging demands for residency & citizenship by investment programs (RCBI) at an unprecedented level. “Almost unanimously,” reports Christian Nesheim, an editor of Investment Migration Insider, “the citizenship/residence consultants I speak to say they are getting way more phone calls and emails than what’s normal for this time of year.” To outsiders, the situation presents utter bewilderment. To us, some initial confusion arose before soon turning into insights: the pandemic causes a disruption in not only a population’s GDP’s growth but also in a population’s relationships with their home countries and their mobility boundaries.
Investor Visa during the Pandemic: The Change in Perspectives and Perceptions
The new normal has arrived, whether one is aware of it or not.
The term “new normal” associated with COVID-19 in the context of RCBI programs has so far proved, by no means, an exaggeration. While a number of applicants, who were for all of a sudden illiquid, of course, pulled out to heal themselves first, a number of people who can maintain liquidity and stay aloft flocked to immigration lawyers. The RCBI industry has never been more in demand.
To comprehend the factors that contribute to such an ironic phenomenon requires us to adopt a holistic lens, an integrated picture, to meet such a pandemic scale, and here are the three factors primarily involved in what one can perhaps now call, “The COVID-19 era of Investment Immigration”.
1. Health and Security in Doubt and Question
The pandemic is a testament to not merely a business but also a country and its strength as a whole. Before COVID-19, it is almost ridiculous to question your life security within your home country, but now it can sound almost painful to place all your trust within that familiar hands: ‘We want to know,” said an Italian multi-millionaire in a report by Schengen Visa Info, “there is a safe place, with good medical services, that the whole family can go to at short notice if we need to, […].”
From being just immigration programs that appeal to those in seeking for ease of mobility in travel or assets planning, RCBI programs becomes a real holistic option that can ensure a person’s Plan B in case of any emergency. This factor also demonstrates a disruption in a person’s perception of his/her national boundary. Our national geography – the notion that we dwell only within our country, as a citizen of a sole nation, are being altered. The national border is being erased and replaced with a global one, albeit how intangible it might appear. For now, the overall atmosphere may not be much apparent yet, but when all the curtains lift, more people will more and more re-consider their relationships with their home/current countries and, if that relationship proves quite problematic, a new or second one can be seen waiting in line.
2. The Taxation Crisis
For a country to stay afloat as well and prove its own strength, all kinds of measures and policies are implemented, and among all strategies, tax policies are, of course, considered a main blueprint for a country’s economic recovery. The number of corporations, particularly the OECD and IMF, all propose a tax policy as an ultimate way-out for a country.
The OECD, for example, published a report since March on “how tax policy can aid governments in dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.” Similarly, “first and most immediately,” utters the IMF, “taxation plays a role at this current crisis stage in helping to sustain universal access to basic goods and services through “lifeline” measures.” Indeed, the IMF declares how “[in] the same spirit, aggressive tax minimization by large taxpayers – however legal it may appear – will become even more intolerable to society at large.” High-income earners, as a result, began to question their own capacity to withstand that tax demand, and here is when a player, called ‘an investment immigration law firm’ comes to play its usual role. The situation regarding a relationship between an RCBI programs and taxation management has never been more delicate. To take any steps for your tax efficiency now requires more delicate considerations than ever; the equation now includes not only you anymore but also, for all of sudden, your whole country. Consider hiring only authorized immigration lawyer to assist and steer you into a factual and practical direction.
3. Digital Transformation
It is undeniable that to a country, to provide an RCBI program is itself an economic relief measure–a fast track to recover. Different countries around the world have lowered their investment thresholds, widened the definition of qualifying dependents, and even waived some complicated requirements in order to attract more applicants. In some jurisdictions, one can now submit an online application and go through all the intricate processes digitally. It is, therefore, vital to keep yourself updated on all new requirements and procedures before taking any steps. Consider consulting only a professional immigration law firm to inform and guide you during this time of transition and uncertainty.
The demand for Global Mobility services, whether to be in a Residency by Investment or Citizenship by Investment program, has been increasing at an unprecedented level, and among all reasons, the three primary factors including health and security, taxation management, and digital transformation, are gathered. All three factors reflect how our world and the realms of investment immigration are going through a dramatic transition. It is more important than ever for an immigration lawyer/firm to be well-informed and updated on all transformations during this period of uncertainty and steer clients in the legitimate and right direction.
This article originally appeared on the Harvey Law Group website and has been republished here with permission.