If you consider a second citizenship or residence, act quickly. The past has shown many times that these opportunities can disappear fast.
Why did Portugal and Ireland stop their programs?
Recently, two European residence-by-investment programs have been stopped by the governments of the respective countries. The bigger, more impactful one is Portugal. Its fate is not yet decided, a final decision on any amendments within the housing act (“Mais Habitação” package) is expected towards the end of March 2023. Applicants to the Portuguese program were quite free to invest in residential real estate and it does seem likely that the program was one of the causes for rising prices in the sector. This seems the main reason behind the decision of the Portuguese government to halt the program.
The smaller, less popular program that was recently halted is the Irish Immigrant Investor Programme (IIP). It was stopped very abruptly, literally from one day to the next. The responsible Minister for Justice Simon Harris acknowledged the significant investment the program brought and its high professional standards. The program was indeed designed to support social causes and did so quite successfully. In his statement the Minister referred to the EU Commission, Council of Europe and OECD and their critical reports on these types of programs.
Almost all countries in the world allow foreign investors to obtain a residence permit. But usually, these investors also must physically move to the country. That was not the case for the Portuguese and the Irish program, where the residence permit was granted, but the applicant didn’t have to move, but could do so, whenever he wanted to. That’s a great backup plan for people who are happy where they are, but worry about political, social or financial stability in their home. Therefore, they want to be prepared and able to move to Portugal or Ireland if certain negative developments occur. Sad current examples where many people benefited greatly from their backup plan are Ukraine and Russia. Many (relatively) wealthy people there did have such a second residence and did move away from their home country. While this wasn’t problematic for Ukrainians, it did create political backlash regarding Russians. Consequently, many programs with citizenship or residence programs banned citizens from Russia (and Belarus) from participation. And the re-evaluation of Ireland and Portugal of their programs most likely was influenced by this development as well.
The five Caribbean nations offering citizenship by investment programs instead sat together with the United States government and they agreed on mutually acceptable measures to improve the long-term sustainability of their citizenship-by-investment programs. While this approach is constructive, it still resulted in a ban to citizens from Russia and Belarus. The popular Cyprus citizenship program was stopped altogether about 2 years ago, mainly because of negative publicity.
The conclusion for investors considering a second permanent residence or citizenship is that it’s important to act quickly and decisively. Because both the supply side (programs being cancelled such as Cyprus, Portugal or Ireland) and the demand side (citizens of countries becoming blacklisted such as Russia or Belarus) can change very fast and options can disappear immediately. Once it’s too late the costs become far greater and it takes much more time to achieve the desired result.
At Mirabello Consultancy we permanently observe the status of all available and reputable investment migration programs. There are still several very attractive European residence options available, for example Greece or Spain. Many other countries provide more specific opportunities, that require a bespoke approach and where we have the knowledge and competence to support our clients throughout the entire process. For citizenship, the Caribbean nations mentioned previously remain attractive. If that’s not possible, countries such as Turkey or Egypt can be a first step towards flexibility and independence. Malta citizenship of course remains the gold standard and is highly selective. It is our area of expertise.
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