Hindsight 2020: The Year in Investment Migration

As has been the case for many markets, 2020 has been investment migration’s most turbulent year yet. We review the biggest stories and trends in investment migration in the year that’s finally drawing to a close.

Because it offers a telling glance into the interests and concerns foremost in the minds of Chinese investment migration market, we will list separately the most-read stories on our Chinese-language WeChat channel, where more than 6,000 Chinese RCBI professionals subscribe to our daily updates.

We’ll begin with the top stories read in English:

The 10 most-read stories in 2020 on imidaily.com

  1. Which RCBI-Countries Have Handled COVID-19 Best So Far?
    Little did we know, when we conducted this quantitative analysis on virus-containment performances among RCBI-jurisdictions in April, that it would prove much too soon to draw any conclusions about which countries had done the better job of it. Nonetheless, mainstream media in some of the (at the time) best-performing countries picked up the story, resulting in nearly 40,000 readers of the story in IMI.
  2. Portugal to Allow Birthright Citizenship From Tomorrow: Major Win for Golden Visa
    After several years of dashed hopes, Portugal finally changed its nationality act to allow the children of parents who had resided in Portugal for at least a year to qualify for ius soli. Though the policy technically does not afford fully-fledged birthright citizenship (because of the one-year residence period required), it represents a major feather in the Portugal golden visa’s cap.
  3. After Rejecting Up to 90% of Applications, Malaysia Freezes MM2H, Again
    Starting in late 2019, the Malaysian government embarked on a “soft” (i.e., unofficial) program suspension by rejecting some 90% of applications for its MM2H residency program. In July, authorities finally came out and said it explicitly; the world’s most popular residency program would be suspended pending reforms. At the time, the government indicated the program would reopen by December 2020; the market is still waiting.
  4. Why I’m Doubling Down on Portugal’s Golden Visa After the Pandemic
    More than 10,000 English-speaking visitors to imidaily.com read Nicolas Salerno’s “ode” to the Portuguese golden visa program and the country’s handling of the pandemic, which, at least at the time, had been admirable.
  5. Dominica to Launch Entrepreneur Visa With 2-Year Path to Citizenship
    Stories of new residence and citizenship by investment programs, or even rumors that they may be in the offing, tend to be popular among our readers. When Dominica’s Prime Minister Skerrit himself, on his weekly talk-show, interviewed IMI columnist Kenneth Green about the upcoming Entrepreneur Visa program (scheduled for launch in January), the investment migration community appeared delighted.
  6. Saint Lucia Introduces Half-Price COVID-Relief Bond, Slew of Other Discounts
    Similar to news of new programs, announcements of discounts to existing ones tend to spread quickly. So it was when Saint Lucia’s Prime Minister Chastanet declared a 50% cut in the bond investment requirement by introducing a COVID-19 relief bond.
  7. Grenada CIP Developer Caught on Camera Promoting Illegal Discounts: CIU Investigating
    The illegal discounting of Caribbean CIPs, enabled by the kicking back of funds collected for real estate developments that the developer has no intention of actually completing, has been a lamentable and recurring theme in the last few years. It is rare, however, to see a developer openly admitting to – let alone using as a selling point – such criminal schemes in a public forum. That, however, is precisely what happened during this webinar in July.
  8. 7 Reasons The E2 Visa is The Next Big Thing in US Immigration From 2021 Onwards
    Continuing retrogression-problems in the EB-5 program – which until now has been a predicament afflicting mainly Chinese, Vietnamese, and Indian applicants but which could soon become a major thorn for applicants from all countries – no doubt helped spur to prominence Angie Rupert’s analysis of the E2 visa’s future.
  9. Italy Halves Minimum Investment of “La Dolce Visa” to EUR 250,000 – But Will Investors Bite?
    Though still lagging its Greek and Portuguese cousins in terms of program fundamentals (notably lacking a sub-€500,000 low-risk investment option), Italy’s golden visa, which IMI has given the affectionate moniker “La Dolce Visa”, has taken great strides toward becoming a competitive European option this year. First, by removing the physical residence requirement and, second, by allowing Dolce Visa applicants to invest through their companies.
  10. Historic Comeback for Portugal Golden Visa: May 2020 Best Month on Record
    Following a shockingly steep downturn in March and April, Portugal’s golden visa application volume came roaring back with redoubled ferocity in May, which eventually saw it beating all previous monthly records by some distance, raising a daily average of EUR 5 million that month.

We note with some interest that, out of the top ten most-read articles this year on our English- and Chinese-language respectively, only three stories featured on both lists, indicating that the international and Chinese investment migration markets differ considerably in their interests.

For one thing, the Chinese market is clearly very concerned with what’s going on in Vanuatu; three of the top ten stories in China dealt with issues relating to the Pacific country’s various CBI programs, especially those penned by our in-house firebrand, David Lesperance.

The 10 most-read stories in 2020 on imidaily.com

  1. Lesperance:瓦努阿图政府不经意间承认其荣誉投资入籍计划的致命缺陷 (Lesperance: Vanuatu Govt. Inadvertently Admits Fatal Flaw in Its Honorary CIP)
  2. 重磅:全新的马耳他杰出投资者归化政策 (Everything You Need to Know About the New Maltese Exceptional Investor Naturalization (MEIN) Regulations)
  3. 重磅:塞浦路斯将于11月1日终止通过投资获得公民身份的计划 (Cyprus to Terminate Citizenship by Investment Program on Nov 1st)
  4. 瓦努阿图双重投资入籍计划的时代结束了?“香港的Jimmy”收到停职信 (Vanuatu’s Dual-CIP Era Drawing to a Close? “Hong Kong-Jimmy” Receives Termination Notice)
  5. 圣基茨和尼维斯投资入籍地产项目的建设工人罢工,据传是因为欠薪 (Video Shows Workers at St Kitts CBI-Resort Striking, Allegedly Over Non-Payment)
  6. 瓦努阿图所谓的投资入籍计划就是一个定时炸弹 (Lesperance: Vanuatu’s So-Called CBI Program is a Ticking Time Bomb)
  7. 俄罗斯国家杜马投票302比0通过双重国籍法,破天荒头一次 (Duma Votes 302-0 to Pass Russia’s Historic Dual Citizenship Law in Record Time)
  8. 在拒掉多达90%的申请案后,马来西亚再次冻结第二家园项目 (After Rejecting Up to 90% of Applications, Malaysia Freezes MM2H, Again)
  9. 格林纳达投资入籍计划开发商被拍到推广非法折扣:移民局正在调查 (Grenada CIP Developer Caught on Camera Promoting Illegal Discounts: CIU Investigating)
  10. 葡萄牙今起承认出生公民权:黄金签证的重大胜利 (Portugal to Allow Birthright Citizenship From Tomorrow: Major Win for Golden Visa)

For investment migration, it’s been a mixed bag of a year. On the one hand, the market has suffered a number of debilitating blows:

  • Three major programs – Malaysia’s MM2H, Canada’s QIIP, and Cyprus’ CIP – are out of commission without definite re-launch dates;
  • The European Commission has pursued an aggressive line against EU CIPs through its infringement procedures;
  • Some residency programs have been unable to adapt with sufficient alacrity to the viral new world, notably the RBI programs of Greece and Australia.

On the bright side,

2020 has also been a tremendously eventful year for IMI. Some of the new sections and features we’ve introduced include:

For better or worse, investment migration has never had so much mainstream-media coverage as in 2020, as evidenced by the relentless rise in appearances of investment migration people in the news. The number of HNWI individuals around the world – including in the hitherto largely-ignored markets of “The West” – who have begun to seriously consider investment migration is higher than it has ever been, promising to deliver a very busy 2021 for RCBI firms.

In accordance with the Pareto principle, the lion’s share of this coverage is owed to a minority of individuals, particularly Paddy Blewer, Arthur Sarkisian, Mohammed Asaria, Nuri Katz, Dominic Volek, Armand Arton, Georg Chmiel, and Bruno L’ecuyer. Though they have, quite naturally, engaged with the press primarily to further the business of the companies they represent, the benefits of the positive press they have generated rubs off on the rest of us.

From the team here at IMI to all our loyal readers and contributors: We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year in which – we believe – investment migration will be what goes viral.

Christian Henrik Nesheim AdministratorKeymaster

Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 16 years in the United States, China, Spain, and Portugal.

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