Investment migration people in the news this week included:
- Dani van Vuuren of Sovereign Trust
- Matthew Galati of The Galati Law Firm
- David Lesperance of Lesperance & Associates
- Jürg Steffen of Henley & Partners
- Murat Coskun of Get Golden Visa
- Joana Mendonça and Patricia Casaburi of Global Citizen Solutions
- Ezzedeen Soleiman of Latitude
- Stefano Migliore of Harvey Law Group
- Dr. Kristin Surak
BusinessTech – Warning over exodus of wealthy South Africans
The looming threat of an additional ‘wealth tax’ in South Africa to fund a universal basic income grant will further erode the country’s tax base, as wealthy South Africans move to emigrate or offshore their assets to avoid higher taxes, says Dani van Vuuren, Business Development Consultant at Sovereign Trust.
In the process, the country faces the prospect of an accelerated ‘brain drain’, as skilled and entrepreneurial South Africans look to establish themselves in countries that are more politically and economically stable, while offering a more predictable tax regime.
“South Africa’s tax rates on higher income earners are already high. We believe a further wealth tax will only serve to decrease our already diminished taxpayer base. And with more entrepreneurial citizens leaving the country, this would have a major impact on the fiscus through lower future tax income, reduced wealth creation opportunities and fewer potential employment opportunities through local businesses,” said Van Vuuren.
A Missouri federal court has refused to let the Biden administration escape an Australian national’s claim challenging the “nonsensical” and “dysfunctional” visa processing times that he says have unreasonably delayed his application for an EB-5 investor visa.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen R. Welby said in his order Friday that plaintiff Sharath Chandra Velagapudi and the federal government defendants agree the so-called “TRAC factors” should determine the outcome of the case but disagree if they can be applied at the motion to dismiss stage.
Velagapudi is represented by Matthew Tony Galati of the Galati Law Firm.
David Lesperance used to spend his time talking to clients about tax. Now the wealthy individuals seeking the immigration adviser’s help when weighing a move to the US have started asking about abortion, LGBT+ rights and the risk of violence.
The “culture war” issues that loom large within the US are now “top of mind” for professionals thinking of moving there, Lesperance says.
Rightwing extremists’ January 2021 attack on the US Capitol had a “visceral” effect on many would-be immigrants, he recalls. The Supreme Court’s overturning of federal abortion protections this year led to another “huge jump” in concern.
The surging dollar comes as more Americans than ever are looking to get a foothold abroad, said Juerg Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners, a London-based investment migration consultancy. Americans have grown to become the biggest single client group at the firm, which assists high-net-worth individuals in migrating or attaining foreign residency and citizenship, which sometimes requires a real estate purchase. As a result Henley is in the process of opening three new U.S. offices.
“Before Covid, the majority of clients came from emerging markets. Most of these or all of these applicants had weak passports,” Mr. Steffen said. Now, “we’ve seen a huge boom” in clients from developed markets.
It’s not only the exchange rate at play. Indeed, currency is an afterthought for very wealthiest American clients at Henley, Mr. Steffen said. Rather, the pile up of uncertainty in the U.S. since the pandemic, including political and quality-of-life concerns, is driving the exodus.
“If you could see our client list, one-third you would know because these are the wealthiest Americans,” Mr. Steffen said. During the pandemic-fueled lockdowns, they realized “even though they could take their private jet to New Zealand, they wouldn’t let them in.”
“When Donald Trump won [the U.S. presidency in 2016], our phones rang constantly, or when [Joe] Biden won [in 2020], our phones rang—whenever things are changing,” Mr. Steffen said, adding that most U.S. clients seek European citizenship via Malta or Portugal, though some look to Australia or South America, and many want “two or three different options.”
When applying for a golden visa in Portugal, an applicant must first decide what investment type they’re looking for (either real estate or a fund), gather all needed paperwork, get a tax file number (also known as an NIF), and open a Portuguese bank account and fund your investment, according to Get Golden Visa. After golden visa holders renew their visas twice and live in the country for five years, they can apply for permanent residency or citizenship.
Portugal is one of the hottest destinations for this type of “residency by investment” program, according to Murat Coskun, managing partner of Get Golden Visa. It was the first European country to surpass the passporting firm’s threshold of 10,000 applicants in 2021.
The popularity of Portugal among remote workers is due to a number of reasons, including the low cost of living, mild weather, an abundance of co-working spaces, connections to major European cities, and the country’s fluency in English, Joana Mendonça, the head of legal at Global Citizen Solutions, an investment migration firm with a strong presence in the Portuguese market, told Insider.
Ezzedeen Soleiman, a managing partner at Latitude Residency & Citizenship, told Insider in May that Portugal is one of the most in-demand “golden visa” programs for wealthy American investors.
“Portugal is the next California,” he said. “You have tremendous talent going there, tremendous wealth going there.”
BusinessTech – Another blow for South Africa’s airline industry
Stefano Migliore, a managing partner at the multinational law firm Harvey Law Group, said that pent-up demand and a shortage of pilots in the states presents an opportunity for skilled pilots to make the jump to the US.
Currently, the US is welcoming pilots from across the globe, he said.
According to the law group, if used correctly, the US National Interest Waiver (NIW) program could be used by pilots to access an unconditional green card that offers permanent residency status for ten years for the green cardholder and their dependents.
The NIW visa is based on merit; hence, even pilots without degrees or diplomas can still be eligible, said Migliore. Unlike other visas, pilots on this program are not dependent on a prior job offer and can live and work anywhere they like in the US once they obtain access, he said.
Business Insider – SA pilots are flying off to America after local airlines went bust
“There are many exceptional pilots in South Africa right now who are looking beyond our borders to find employment,” said Stefano Migliore, managing partner of the South African office of multinational law firm Harvey Law Group (HLG), which is actively assisting pilots in getting jobs abroad through the US National Interest Waiver (NIW) programme.
The NIW visa, based on merit and designed to find pilots who meet exceptional ability criteria, grants access to an unconditional green card with permanent residency status for 10 years, which includes dependents. It also has flexible education requirements, so pilots who don’t have degrees or diplomas can still be eligible.
In the past 12 months alone, HLG has signed 33 South African pilots under processing for work in the US.
Obtaining an NIW visa is a 12 to 18 months process that requires careful application, noted HLG.
“Pilots often don’t recognise the aspects of their professional history and training that would be considered above average by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. We do,” said Migliore, adding that HLG-led applications have much shorter approval times, between four to five months.
For the vast majority, reasons for applying for foreign citizenship are “pretty mundane” says Dr Kristin Surak, associate professor of political sociology at London School of Economics, UK. “The number one reason is travel.”
A wealthy businessman from the global south is likely to find it easier to attend meetings around the world if travelling with a widely accepted EU passport, for example.
The same is true for foreign nationals – often from the global south – living in countries where their passports restrict them from getting mortgages or opening bank accounts, Surak says. “And they’re doctors or professionals so they have the money to find a workaround to the system.”
Then, there are the super-wealthy who want to ensure emergency travel is possible. “You might get people in Hong Kong who are very worried about government crackdown,” Surak says. “Or very wealthy Americans who were used to going whatever they wanted around the world, then once Covid-19 hit they suddenly couldn’t travel.”
“Digital nomadism is a trend that has been gaining traction since the early 2020s and with the Covid-19 pandemic, remote working became a reality for many workers,” said Patricia Casaburi, managing director of Global Citizen Solutions, an investment migration company. “This visa will simplify procedures for citizens from other countries who want to come to Portugal and the country will benefit from attracting a new labor market and more human resources.”