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Global changes and trends in investment immigration. Could Citizenship by Investment Programs be canceled?

The focus of the world’s attention has shifted to the acute and emotional geopolitical crisis in Ukraine. As part of the package of sanctions for citizens of Russia and Belarus, many schemes of investment immigration have been suspended.

 

But let us turn to what is happening directly in the European Union – the Citizenship by Investment  (CBI) global industry also has been on the verge of structural and global changes

 

There is increasing public debate about possible limitations in immigration politics. Caribbean states are threatened to lose visa-free entry to Schengen (what has already happened with Vanuatu), there is pressure on the program of Cyprus «golden visa» and the «golden passport» of Malta. 


 

Recently, the EU Parliament has  overwhelmingly voted to ban EU Member States from issuing passports to high-value investors and introduce stricter rules restricting the issue of gold visas to investors.  It demands restrictions on the role of intermediaries in these schemes, as well as a levy on investor visas to be collected at EU level. The European Commission must now prepare corresponding draft legislation, or justify its decision not to do so.

 

This «crusade» against the EU’s sphere of investment immigration is explained by rhetoric about possible violations by applicants, including corruption, while deliberately ignoring the fact that there is a complex multi-level check through which each applicant passes. Due Diligence is a guarantee of the integrity of every investor and significantly minimizes all the risks that the EU is concerned about.

 

For example, Malta, having carried out a comprehensive check of all passports and withdrew only three of all passports granted under the programme

 

The percentage of violations is almost minimal. 

 

Speaking about the threats to remove visa-free entry for the Caribbean States (Grenada, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia), this recommendation is in fact a violation of the nation’s right to determine who its own nationals are. Even Europe has no right to influence third-country jurisdictions. 

 

In ASTONS we hold the view that despite the approval of the report, its provisions are unlikely to be the subject of a legislative initiative. If the CBI and RBI (Residence by Investment) programs are canceled, it will take several years to do it.

 

This law, if implemented, threatens the internal market of countries, the welfare of the treasury of the state in which the CBI or RBI program operates, and most importantly, it is a direct violation of the individual’s rights and possibilities of global mobility. The risks were sufficiently circumstantial and dictated by political considerations. 

 

The RBI and CBI programs are a mutually beneficial process, providing benefits to both sides: the investor and the state. For example, in Vanuatu, foreign investment accounts for up to 40% of the country’s GDP.

 

The European Parliament’s claims are not homogeneous and subjective. Small islands and their programs have been criticized for not having minimum accommodation requirements, whereas this is normal practice for EU member States. If CBI programs do present inherent risks to the security and integrity of the concept of citizenship, then the restrictive policy should apply to all programs, regardless of their status and position on the world map.