The below is an overview of the countries in which the 52 largest international RCBI-specialist companies have an office presence.
How do we define “international RCBI-specialist companies”?
By international, we mean that the company has a physical office presence outside of its home market and offers its clients assistance with a diversified range of RCBI programs. For example, many very large Chinese firms are excluded from this analysis because they operate only within China. Similarly, many large US EB-5 consultancies are excluded because they do not offer advisory services related to programs other than American ones.
By specialist, we mean that the narrowly defined line of business we know as investment migration – i.e., residency and citizenship by investment – is the company’s primary business. Many firms offer help with RCBI programs as part of a wider panoply of services – such as tax planning or company formation. We have chosen to focus only on those firms that chiefly occupy themselves with RCBI and very little else. Consequently, companies like Deloitte, Sovereign Group, or Eurofast do not feature in this overview.
Tens of thousands of firms provide RCBI services in one form or another. The overwhelming majority of them have fewer than ten employees. To render this analysis a feasible exercise, we have considered only companies that have more than 15 team members.
The Big 52
Having applied the abovementioned filters – international, specialized, and with 15 or more employees – we are left with 52 companies that fit the criteria. These are the 52 biggest international RCBI-specialist firms.
For each of these, we have determined in which countries they have a physical office presence. Though many firms have more than one office in any given country, we only count it as one “office presence”. For example, if Company A has one office in Hong Kong, one in Dubai, one in London, and one in Birmingham, that would count – in our analysis – as Hong Kong 1, UAE 1, and UK 1 (still).
The Euro-Arabian “golden visa belt”
From Muscat, on the Southeasternmost shores of the Arab peninsula, to Manchester in Northwestern England, runs a “belt” heavily dotted with RCBI-advisories. It passes through several major investment migration hubs – Dubai, Cairo, Limassol, Istanbul, Athens, and Malta – as well as minor hubs like Amman, Beirut, Montenegro, Budapest, Geneva, and Paris.
Few regular readers will be surprised to learn that Dubai is the biggest RCBI-hub of all. Out of the 52 biggest international RCBI-specialists, 30 have an office presence in the UAE, which is also home to more than a hundred other smaller, non-international RCBI-specialists.
At the Northern end of the golden visa belt, meanwhile, London – the original world city – retains its position as Europe’s foremost RCBI-hub. 17 of the 52 are there.
For a country that has never had a CIP, hasn’t had a federal investor visa since 2014, and which now – following the suspension of the Quebec IIP – doesn’t even have a provincial-level investor visa (though it still has many self-employment/startup options), Canada has a remarkably high concentration of RCBI-specialists; 20 out of the 52 keep offices in the country.
There are good historical reasons for this; The “Great White North” is, in some ways, the grandfather of investment migration destinations. Many of the large, globally present RCBI firms of today began their stories in Canada (typically in Montreal) under the Federal and Quebec IIPs. Examples include Harvey Law Group, Arton Capital, Bayat Legal, and Apex Capital Partners, to name a few. That Canada remains the second-largest hub for investment migration to this day – even in the absence of any significant programs – is a testament to and a vestige of the pre-eminent position the country once held in the RCBI world.
While on a per-country basis, Canada has the highest concentration of international RCBI-specialist companies in the Western hemisphere, the Caribbean far surpasses it if the five Eastern Caribbean CIP-countries are considered in aggregate; The Big 52 have 32 offices in the region.
RCBI-specialist firms devote little attention to South America, a phenomenon for which there are good explanations: Reader Mailbox: Why Isn’t Latin America a Bigger Market for Investment Migration?
Though no country has as many RCBI firms as China (statistical reports indicate the number could be anything from 5,000 to 27,000 companies), only a handful of them have any significant footprint in other countries, making them relatively un-represented in this analysis. Yet among the Big 52 international RCBI-specialists (which includes about a dozen large Chinese companies), 15 maintain offices on the mainland, making it Asia’s top destination for investment migration companies.
Hosting 12 international RCBI-specialist offices, Hong Kong is a close second (and, of course, the clear winner in per-capita terms), followed by Vietnam, Malaysia, and Singapore, which have seven each.
The three largest source markets for investor migration in Africa over the last decade – in terms of dollars and cents – have been Egypt, South Africa, and Nigeria. The distribution of international RCBI-specialists’ offices on the content reflect this; Eight keep offices in Egypt, four in South Africa, and five in Nigeria. Increasingly, citizenship consultancies are flirting with the notion of opening bureaus in East Africa, and Nairobi is the natural point of gravity. See also: Nearly 1 in 5 South African HNWIs Cite “Emigration” as Reason For Selling Homes.
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 14 years in the United States, China, and Spain.