Since the birth of CBI programs, structures have been in place to allow for the maximum preservation of wealth, financial security, and freedom of travel. Recent events related to COVID-19 have made investors reconsider the selection of programs and have shifted priorities. Access to healthcare and medical services is one of the factors that has gained the most in prominence.
Until now, residence and citizenship programs have been designed primarily to serve the optimization of mobility and settlement freedom. Such freedoms, however, are not of much help when borders are closed and you require immediate medical assistance. In most cases, entering a country with closed borders is only possible if you are a citizen with the respective nationality or at least a permanent resident. So, holding a Caribbean passport will allow you to travel to the respective country despite closed borders, but nowhere else.
As long as you are healthy, these islands can be beautiful places in which to sit out the health crisis. Such islands have relatively low rates of international travel and limited interactions with the outside world, which make it easier to effectively stop an outbreak, control infections, and contain a virus.
As soon as you require medical assistance and access to healthcare, however, such places can become gilded cages. The healthcare systems in the Caribbean islands are far from state-of-the-art. They lack healthcare infrastructure, have virtually no self-sufficiency for the procurement of medical equipment and medicine, their medical practitioners are less experienced with life-threatening conditions, and locals tend to travel abroad for advanced treatment in countries with a more developed healthcare system.
In short, if you have a serious health condition, many countries are not the optimal places to be, and you will find yourself in a rather unpleasant situation if you are unable to travel.
Having a residence permit or citizenship in a country that can offer a high level of medical services access and security allows you to enter the country and benefit from superior care, even when borders are closed. Alternatively, an excellent private international health insurance can assist in evacuating a client, even from very remote areas with closed borders, in emergencies.
While the world is watching and following the statistics of how countries manage to contain and eradicate new infections, it has become clear that some states have miserably failed in doing so. For decades, the US was considered one of the most developed countries for healthcare, treatments, and medication. However, only a few weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, the American health and medical system has come under severe strain and partially broken down.
The US is only one country among many others that have proven unable to adequately manage this global health crisis. Others include the UK, Italy, Spain, and Brazil, to name a few. Medical tourists are now questioning whether the US is still their go-to destination, and so do investment migration applicants.
Would you still consider the EB-5 program a wise choice for a safe and secure future for yourself and your kids? The latest issue of the Henley & Partners Passport Index confirms that American passport-holders have lost tremendous ground in terms of travel freedom since the onset of COVID-19.
Forbes’ recent report on The 100 Safest Countries In The World For COVID-19 ranked the US 58th globally while pointing to Switzerland as the safest. It may suddenly appear to be a much better idea to seek residence status in, say, Switzerland, than the USA or Spain.
What has become apparent already by now is that governments need to reconsider their residence and citizenship programs to adjust to the new reality and place more emphasis on health and access to healthcare. Attracting the most desirable investors to a country in the future will require either the development of the local healthcare system and infrastructure or the introduction of alternative solutions that allow their citizens to receive top-notch care as the frequency of health crises rises.
Investment migration consultants, on the other hand, will be forced to rethink how access to the best healthcare can be integrated into their services to differentiate them from competitors, and also need to reconsider which programs best suit individuals and families that not only seek security and personal mobility in normal times but who now also place a premium on healthcare options.