The Investment Migration Market Eligibility Index© (IMMEI)

The aim of The IMMEI is to help RCBI executives decide on which markets to focus their time and resources by indicating which markets are relatively more attractive.

The IMMEI relies on purely quantitative data to rank potential investment migration markets according to their relative suitability as targets of RCBI-firm investment and marketing.

To that end, we evaluate each market according to five main indicators and 14 sub-indicators, including HNWI population estimates, RCBI competition levels, historical RCBI participation data, economic and demographic trends, regulatory and legal considerations, and many others. Read about our methodology by clicking the “Methodology” tab below.

The Index is accompanied by a comprehensive, 41-page report that consists of a detailed discussion on and rich data from each of the ten highest-ranked markets.

Market RCBI Demand Level RCBI Client Pool Size Accessibility RCBI Competition Macro-Potential IMMEI Score
Angola 0.62 0.08 0.41 Low 0.01 45.2%
Argentina 0.42 0.19 0.61 Low 0.02 37.9%
Bangladesh 0.81 0.13 0.51 Very low 0.49 61.1%
Botswana 0.47 0.02 0.60 Very low 0.16 40.2%
Brazil 0.36 0.22 0.58 Medium 0.08 33.4%
Cambodia 0.58 0.10 0.50 Low 0.37 46.5%
China 0.64 0.37 0.61 Very high 0.87 55.5%
Colombia 0.50 0.17 0.62 Low 0.18 43.1%
Côte d'Ivoire 0.50 0.04 0.49 Low 0.45 41.4%
Egypt 0.68 0.17 0.61 High 0.33 50.7%
Ethiopia 0.56 0.02 0.46 Very low 0.53 46.7%
Ghana 0.49 0.06 0.53 Low 0.32 40.6%
Hong Kong 0.56 0.26 0.51 Very high 0.14 41.7%
India 0.51 0.23 0.65 Medium 0.90 49.4%
Indonesia 0.47 0.21 0.57 Low 0.39 43.9%
Iran 0.62 0.15 0.56 Medium 0.10 46.7%
Israel 0.41 0.17 0.53 Low 0.19 37.4%
Kenya 0.55 0.15 0.59 Very low 0.35 46.8%
Kuwait 0.47 0.13 0.53 Medium 0.06 37.5%
Laos 0.54 0.02 0.55 Very low 0.37 45.3%
Malaysia 0.55 0.21 0.68 High 0.29 43.6%
Mauritius 0.46 0.06 0.65 Medium 0.22 37.9%
Mexico 0.53 0.22 0.62 Low 0.16 45.9%
Morocco 0.57 0.15 0.60 Low 0.20 46.8%
Mozambique 0.52 0.06 0.51 Very low 0.31 44.2%
Myanmar 0.56 0.04 0.48 Very low 0.36 46.0%
Namibia 0.53 0.02 0.62 Very low 0.08 42.7%
Nigeria 0.62 0.13 0.50 Low 0.17 47.8%
Pakistan 0.80 0.15 0.60 Low 0.32 58.6%
Philippines 0.56 0.19 0.54 Low 0.41 47.8%
Qatar 0.46 0.17 0.48 High 0.12 33.8%
Russia 0.44 0.22 0.64 High 0.16 37.6%
Saudi Arabia 0.47 0.19 0.58 High 0.11 37.5%
South Africa 0.61 0.19 0.60 High 0.08 45.8%
Taiwan 0.52 0.21 0.63 Medium 0.13 43.1%
Tanzania 0.54 0.10 0.51 Low 0.36 44.7%
Thailand 0.55 0.19 0.58 Medium 0.22 44.7%
Turkey 0.72 0.22 0.65 Medium 0.25 55.4%
UAE 0.35 0.24 0.53 Very high 0.15 30.0%
Uganda 0.54 0.13 0.57 Low 0.35 45.5%
Vietnam 0.88 0.15 0.64 Medium 0.42 64.6%
Zambia 0.56 0.04 0.61 Very low 0.17 45.8%
USA 0.29 1.00 0.41 Very high 0.21 41.2%
UK 0.21 0.40 0.54 Very high 0.11 25.1%
South Korea 0.50 0.24 0.59 Medium 0.10 41.9%

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The aim of The IMMEI is to help RCBI executives decide on which markets to focus their time and resources. The IMMEI relies on purely quantitative data to rank potential investment migration markets according to their relative suitability as targets of RCBI-firm investment and marketing. To that end, we evaluate each market according to five main indicators and 14 sub-indicators.

RCBI-Demand Level Indicator

The most important consideration for evaluating an investment migration market - and, indeed, any market - is the degree to which it demands the services in question; in this case, residence and citizenship by investment services. The RCBI-Demand Level indicator is composed of five sub-indicators:

GDP-Adjusted RCBI Propensity - Past performance, says an old aphorism, is the best predictor of future results. For each market considered in the IMMEI, therefore, we have counted the number of known RCBI-applications recorded in each year for the period 2015-19 (main applicants only). This figure is then expressed as a per-million-population number, which we call “absolute RCBI propensity”. For example, a country with a population of 10 million that was the source of 1,000 RCBI cases in the last five years would have an absolute RCBI propensity of exactly 100 (1,000/10). This number tells us a great deal about how inclined a market’s population is to participate in RCBI programs. 

To know more precisely how inclined a population is to participating in RCBI programs relative to populations of other markets, however, we need to modulate the absolute RCBI propensity by adjusting for differences in purchasing power. We’ll illustrate why this adjustment is necessary with another hypothetical example:

Country A and Country B both have a population of 10 million and both have been the source of precisely 1,000 RCBI-cases in the last five years. But the GDP of Country A has double the GDP per capita of Country B. Though in absolute terms, these two markets’ RCBI propensity is equal, the population of Country B has demonstrated significantly higher interest in RCBI because, even though they have only half the purchasing power of Country A, they are the source of the same number of applications. To get a clearer picture of the relative demand (expressed or not) for RCBI products, we therefore adjust for differences in GDP per capita to obtain what we call the “GDP-adjusted RCBI propensity”. With the same population, the same number of RCBI cases, but half the GDP per capita, Country B’s GDP-adjusted RCBI propensity is double that of Country A.

The Kälin & Kochenov Quality of Nationality Index (QNI) - Itself a strictly quantitative meta-index (an index of indices), the QNI measures the relative quality of particular citizenships (read more about the QNI's methodology here). A particular nationality's QNI score is the single most important predictor of potential demand for investment migration services. Note that we emphasize the word potential because the desire for improved nationality is not sufficient to create demand for it; for demand to exist, desire must be coupled with purchasing power. It is for this reason that, as Prof. Kochenov himself points out, the strongest demand for RCBI comes not from the countries with the lowest-ranked nationalities, but rather from the mid-level nationalities, where purchasing power and relatively low QNI scores intersect.

The Heritage Foundation's Index of Economic Freedom - Another significant predictor of RCBI demand is the degree to which HNWIs in a particular market are inhibited from starting, growing, and globally expanding their businesses. HNWIs prefer to operate in freer economic environments. Empirical observation of the countries from which HNWI are departing and to which they are relocating demonstrate this; HNWI are migrating to countries with high levels of economic freedom and from countries with low levels of economic freedom.

Restrictions on dual citizenship and capital flows - Although a great deal of investment migration takes place despite restrictions on dual citizenship and the imposition of capital controls (China is a great example), all else being equal, such policies have the effect of reducing overall demand, albeit only slightly. In our methodology, therefore, the presence of such restrictions negatively impacts a market's RCBI Demand-Level score. Our data on capital controls comes from the IMF, while that for dual citizenship restrictions is taken from the Chetcuti Cauchi Dual Citizenship Report.

RCBI-Client Pool Indicator

The second-most important consideration for evaluating an investment migration market is the degree to which those within that market can actually afford to participate in RCBI programs. The RCBI-Client Pool Indicator consists of two sub-indicators:

Average HNWI Population Estimates - To measure the degree to which a market's inhabitants have the means to participate in RCBI programs, we have used the comprehensive data-sets of Knight Frank and Credit Suisse to determine their estimated HNWI populations. The estimate, as displayed in our ranking, is the average of estimates from the Knight Frank and Credit Suisse Wealth Reports, respectively.

Globalization and World Cities (GaWC) Research Network Classifications of Market's Principal City - Some markets, while themselves not home to very large numbers of HNWI, may nonetheless be home to cities that are points of gravity for HNWI within the wider region. This is the case for cities like Dubai, Singapore, or Panama. A think-tank based in the geography department of Loughborough University, GaWC classifies world cities according to their international connectedness and relative gravity in terms of economic, political and cultural factors. Read more about GaWC's methodology here.

Accessibility Indicator

Some of the most attractive markets in terms of client pool size and demand-levels also have some of the highest barriers to entry. They may have prohibitively byzantine regulations, restrictions on foreign ownership, require high startup- and operational costs, or offer insufficient human resources locally. The Ease and Affordability (Accessibility, for short) indicator ranks markets according to how simple and cheap it is to set up, find skilled staff for, and manage an RCBI business locally. To that end, the Accessibility indicator is made up of three sub-indicators that measure the degree to which such obstacles are present in a market;

Numbeo's Cost-of-Living and Cost-of-Rent Index - This index compares hundreds of cities around the world on their relative cost of living and cost of rent. In our methodology, it serves to indicate the relative level of costs an RCBI-firm can expect to incur for expenses like salaries, office rent, and overhead in a particular market.

The World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index - The Ease of Doing Business Index rates markets according to how conducive its regulatory environment is to the starting and operation of a local firm. For the purposes of The IMMEI, this index serves to give RCBI-executives an idea of the relative bureaucratic complexity of setting up shop in a given market.

Skill Pool - INSEAD's Global Talent Competitiveness Index - The Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) evaluates and ranks countries on their ability to grow, attract, and retain talent. In The IMMEI, we have incorporated only one of the GTCI's six sub-indicators; Global Knowledge Skills, which measures the degree to which highly-skilled employees and globally competitive talent are present in a market. Read more about the GTCI's methodology here.

Macro-Potential Indicator

Because establishing a presence in a new investment migration market consumes time and resources, RCBI executives attempt to forecast a market's future potential. The most attractive markets today may be displaced by others tomorrow. Some markets may be worth entering early in order to gain a competitive foothold and an early-stage market share. To gauge the overall economic and demographic potential of a market, we have included four macro-potential sub-indicators:

Average annual GDP growth 2015-2019 and forecast annual average GDP 2020-24 - Though imperfect, past performance is the best indicator of future results. The actual, recorded GDP growth performance of an economy, therefore, is accorded greater weight than predicted growth. GDP growth forecasts, while unreliable, do give insight into the expectations those who study the matter tend to have for a particular economy, expectations that often have a self-fulfilling effect. Our past GDP growth figures come from The World Bank's open data, while the forecasts were produced by the IMF in their Economic Outlook reports.

Population in 2020 and population in 2030 - A market's population size, now and in the future, matters for the long-term strategic planning of the RCBI executive. A greater population implies greater potential for growth in the absolute number of HNWIs in a market. While the predictive validity of population forecasts are superior to GDP forecasts, we again assign greater weight to current population figures than predicted ones.

RCBI Competition Scarcity Indicator

As a rule, it is better to have fewer competitors than more. Markets in which few RCBI-specialists are present will, therefore, be more attractive than those with many, other factors remaining constant. Based on proprietary data from the IMI Research Unit, our methodology rates the competitiveness of RCBI-markets based on the number and weight of RCBI-specialists that have a presence there, giving each market a rating of very low, low, medium, high, or very high.


This report is a detail-rich discussion on each of the world’s ten highest-ranked RCBI markets according to the findings of the Investment Migration Market Eligibility Index© (IMMEI).

The IMMEI and this accompanying report were created in response to investment migration executives’ repeated inquiries as to which RCBI markets globally show the most promise and which, consequently, should be the focus of their time, resources, and company expansion plans.

The 10 Most Eligible RCBI Markets
Report 2020

The report contains a wealth of data on each of the ten most eligible markets, and the essential information necessary for investment migration executives to make informed choices as to which markets to target, such as:

  • RCBI participation statistics
    • The number of approved applications for every major investment migration program from each market, for every year in the period 2015-19. Find out which types of programs (RBI vs. CBI vs. SUV) are the most popular among particular nationalities.
  • HNWI population estimates and forecasts
    • How many HNWI live in each market now, and by how much is the HNWI population expected to grow over the next five years.
  • RCBI company competition analysis
    • Which RCBI companies have offices in which markets? How many RCBI companies does each market have? Which RCBI companies are dominant in each market? The report contains a database of more than 100 RCBI-firm offices in the top 10 markets.
  • Legal, regulatory, and political
    • See which countries impose capital controls, restrictions on dual citizenship, or limits on foreign ownership. Compare the performance of each market’s currency over the last decade.
  • Accessibility
    • How cheap or expensive would it be to expand into a particular market? How hard is it to find qualified local personnel?Compare markets on cost of living, the price of Grade A office space, talent pools, and salary expectations.
  • Long-term market potential
    • Compare countries on how fast their economies and populations have grown in the last five years and at what pace they are forecast to grow over the next five.

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