IM People in The News

“Our Clients […] Bought About $1bn Worth of Properties”: Investment Migration People in the News This Week

Investment migration people in the news this week include:

  • Jean-François Harvey of Harvey Law Group
  • Denise Ng of Henley & Partners
  • Arthur Sarkisian of Astons
  • Philippe May formerly of Arton Capital
  • David Lesperance of Lesperance & Associates
  • Anthony Liew of the MM2H Consultants Association
  • Lim Kok Sai fo Best Home MM2H
  • Sam Silverman of EB-5 Affiliate Network

SCMP: Hongkongers fleeing in wake of 2019 protests, national security law boost overseas property markets from UK to Canada

“From our clients worldwide, since 2019, they have bought about US$1 billion worth of properties under various residency or citizenship-by-investment programmes, and Hong Kong contributed about 10 per cent of that,” said Jean-Francois Harvey, global managing partner and founder of the firm. Since 1992, HLG, which has 18 offices worldwide, has served about 12,000 clients and families who sought mobility via residency or citizenship schemes.

“This demand had been sustained. Pre-1997 we had a small wave of Hongkongers, but in 2019 we had a perfect storm, and easily there was fourfold growth,” he said. Each time the city faced a political crisis, there was a marked uptick in inquiries.


“The profile has changed a lot. Before 2019, a typical Hong Kong client would be in their 50s with kids aged in their late teens. Now, we’re looking at young 40s with kids between two and seven years old,” Harvey said.

“Before 2019, Hong Kong was never a passport market, because the Hong Kong passport is quite convenient to travel with, but lately we’ve seen a very big increase in the number of people asking for a new passport and to acquire new citizenship because they want security.”


“There are many benefits to the host country, including to the property market. In fact, since the outbreak of the pandemic, many more countries have been designing and setting up residence and citizenship-by-investment programmes to attract affluent investors and talent,” said Denise Ng, head of North Asia at Henley & Partners.


“For many Hongkongers, emigration is being considered with a long-term view and so the real estate component of residency or citizenship through investment can be particularly preferable,” said Arthur Sarkisian, managing director at Astons.

“It provides a tangible asset that can bring a further return on their investment in addition to residency or citizenship. Or, in the case of the residential path, it can provide them with the firm foundation of a home when starting their new life.”

Wealth Briefing Asia: Arton Capital Singapore’s MD Stepping Down

Philippe May, managing director for Arton Capital’s Singapore business and head of Asia-Pacific, has decided to leave the organisation for personal reasons, this news service can report. 

May has worked at Arton Capital, which advises wealthy individuals on citizenship/residency-by-investment programmes, for five years. After he steps down, May’s responsibilities will be taken up by Miloš Stojanovic and Lora Georgieva. 

Financial Standard: How wealthy families protect assets no matter what

Lesperance cautioned families to also consider tax ramifications and physical presence requirements to make sure that they are a resident of the correct region in the eyes of the law.

To illustrate this issue, he provided the example of golfer Tiger Woods’ divorce. Woods had a prenuptial agreement in the state of Florida, but his ex-wife was able to successfully argue during divorce proceedings that they were residents of California. Woods had purchased a home in California and could not prove residence in Florida, so the divorce was settled under California law.

“One basic move we’re seeing from the pandemic is that people are overcoming life inertia. Before they would never dream of leaving the island of Manhattan, where they had these well cultivated lives… they were driven out by COVID and as they are sitting in the Hamptons they have realised, ‘We can get dinner from our favourite restaurant, there’s this thing called UberEats, and there’s Teams and Zoom’,” he said.

“They might have been listening to the New York City mayor discuss how they were going to crank up the rates and thinking to themselves, ‘Well, we already have a place in Palm Beach, let’s become residents of Florida’.”

Such a move for tax benefits is not as simple as it sounds. Lesperence said he is being careful to inform clients that they will have to satisfy the state of New York that they no longer live in New York. If they visit New York too frequently, data from phone locations and purchases could be used to prove that for tax purposes they should still be considered a resident of New York.

“Clients who danced in jurisdictions might not have thought about it before the pandemic, when they were spending each season in a different place, but it is very important that you track where you are and have a defence,” he said.

The Star: Industry players voice concerns over new MM2H rules

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“MM2H is just a social visa pass and not a Permanent Residency (PR). These new requirements seem to be for a PR,” said Malaysia My Second Home Consultants Association president Anthony Liew.

Liew said, for example, Thailand’s Elite Visa with a validity of five years only costs 800,000 baht (RM103,000) for two people.

“Malaysia is a good place to stay but we need to be more welcoming to investors. These terms and conditions will only push them away,” he added.


Best Home (MM2H) managing director Lim Kok Sai said the new requirements were just too high, pointing to the amount needed for fixed deposits and monthly income.

“Not many people, especially pensioners, will earn this monthly salary. It is very prohibitive,” he said.

Lim said those staying here under the previous requirements would now be stuck in a quandary as some would have sold their homes back in their own country.

“It won’t be easy for them to comply with the new policies,” he added.

Forbes: A Guide To Direct EB-5 Investment Requirements For Business Leaders

Sam Silverman, Managing Director of EB-5 Affiliate Network, writes an op-ed in Forbes walking the reader through how direct EB-5 (the only type of EB-5 available at the moment) works:

To determine whether your business qualifies for direct EB-5 investment, consider the needs and characteristics of your business by answering these five questions.

1. Do the staffing needs of your business allow adequate job creation?

Ten new full-time W-2 employees who will work for at least 35 hours per week for at least two years will need to be hired for each EB-5 investment your business receives. As the business owner, you will need to keep detailed records of job creation.

For EB-5 investors, securing permanent green cards for them and their family members is the most important aspect of making an EB-5 investment, so they tend to look for projects with the lowest immigration risk.

2. Does your business plan support job creation projections?

Each investor’s I-526 application must include a business plan that shows that a plausible, concrete plan to create the necessary jobs within two to three years of I-526 approval. The jobs must meet the needs of the business and offer suitable remuneration.

The business plan must include job descriptions, a staffing plan and a hiring schedule, as well as a detailed description of how the business and the EB-5 direct investment meet the EB-5 program requirements.

3. Will the EB-5 investment remain at risk for the required time?

To satisfy the EB-5 program guidelines, EB-5 investment funds must remain invested and at risk until the EB-5 investor has held their temporary green card for at least two years. Repayment of an investor’s investment before the end of this period will make the EB-5 investor ineligible for permanent residency under the EB-5 program.

4. Does the structure of your business allow EB-5 direct investment?

With an EB-5 direct investment, the entity that accepts the investment must directly create the required number of jobs. All EB-5 direct investments must be equity investments to qualify for the EB-5 program; a parent company that wholly owns subsidiary companies is permitted.

5. Is the type of business well-suited to EB-5 direct investment?

EB-5 direct investment is suitable for a range of business and project types, but in my experience, the most popular options are restaurants and wholesale and retail trade businesses. Smaller businesses are typically more suitable for direct investment because they require fewer investors and create fewer jobs. EB-5 capital can also be used in technology, manufacturing and education businesses.

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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