The ultimate brag for the uber-rich in these pandemic times? A “safe” passport.
Rich people across the globe are now spending millions to buy citizenship in countries like New Zealand, which acted quickly and eradicated COVID-19 before any other country in the world.
The South Pacific nation previously reported 80,000 Americans sought out information in May on how to emigrate there — a 65% jump compared to the same time last year.
Other areas sparking interest are Caribbean countries, Malta and Australia — all of which offer beautiful beaches, isolation and more bang for the American buck.
But it will cost you. To live, work and study in New Zealand, people have to fork over anywhere from $2 million to $10 million, based on what kind of visa you need. For $1.4 million, a married couple can get citizenship to Malta, as long as they also purchased property.
And firms that specialize in getting people citizenship in exchange for “investment” are reaping the benefits.
Henley & Partners, the world’s biggest citizenship and residency advisory firm, recently saw a spike in business.
“They’re now realizing: Let’s actually get the contingency plan in place,” said Dominic Volek, Henley’s head of sales, told Bloomberg. “That’s why we’ve seen quite a spike now, not only in inquiries but also in the families actually signing up and saying, ‘Let’s start the process.’”
Nadine Goldfoot, a managing partner at law firm Fragomen, told Bloomberg the pandemic has driven wealthy people to take action, saying: “What is becoming and will continue to be very important now in people’s selection process is how the country has fared during the pandemic and how the government has approached it.”
Other countries like Portugal, which has a residence-by-investment program, are also popular due to it’s “stable” real estate market and low COVID-19 count.
And it’s not just Americans who want a safety passport — Henley recently expanded into Nigeria and is opening another one soon in India.
Many people are creating a safety zone for another lockdown with a potential second coronavirus wave and “they want to be somewhere where that’s a manageable experience,” Fragomen’ told Bloomberg.