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Americans “Don’t Want to Die Working”: Mona Shah on Why Outbound US Migration is Soaring

A few years ago, it was rare to encounter an American citizen actively seeking residency or citizenship rights elsewhere. The US has always been a magnet for global immigrants, and many around the world dream of a path to the highly coveted US citizenship and passport.

While this remains the case for the most part, there has been a noticeable shift in the attitude of wealthy Americans since the Covid-19 pandemic. At the most basic level, many realized that even with an American passport, their access to many destinations could be abruptly cut off during an event similar to Covid-19 or other geopolitical shocks.

Also, many realized that having residency or citizenship in places like Portugal or the Caribbean would not only give them unrestricted mobility access to those locations but could also mean that they would pay much less taxes and enjoy a less stressful lifestyle.

“The world has changed,” comments Mona Shah, Managing Partner at Mona Shah & Associates Global, speaking to IMI Daily on the sidelines of Global Citizen Week Cairo 2024.

“I see a marked difference from before [the pandemic] and now. There are still opportunities and money in the US, but there’s a work ethic in the US that’s not there in Europe, where it’s more laidback. And since Covid, there has been this attitude [among Americans] that they don’t want to die working,”

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Many are also realizing that they needn’t any longer put up with high levels of taxation and soaring costs of living. “There’s a big section of Americans that now feel this way,” Shah adds.

Some EB-5 investors now want out of the US

But the trend doesn’t stop at Americans. It also includes inbound immigrants who had been pursuing US residency for years before finally giving up and starting to consider other options.

“The US immigration system is not the best. There are people who have been stuck in immigration proceedings for years – even applicants who have come through the EB-5 investment program,” explains Shah. “We have applicants who have been languishing in cases dating back to 2017, and it could be that they’re now fed up and really want to find an alternative.”

In the interview below, Shah further explains how she sees the potential impact of the upcoming US elections on immigration trends in the US and reflects on how the immigration landscape has changed since she, an English citizen, immigrated to the US many years ago.

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Moustafa Daly AdministratorAuthorParticipant
Head of Digital , IMI

Moustafa Daly is the Head of Digital at IMI, based in Cairo.

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