The Coronavirus within months of its discovery has been causing unprecedented crisis across many countries, affecting many businesses and services, causing a slowdown and CBI/Golden visa industry is not an exception. Several countries have already imposed travel restrictions closing all borders citing health crisis.
Any business or services which has human to human interaction will likely to face a slowdown because of the fears of Coronavirus (COVID). Lately digital or online services will face a boom.
What impact coronavirus could possibly have on the citizenship by investment industry?
Covid had both positive and Negative effects on the CBI industry, like a double edged sword.
Interest is High
Covid infact accelerated global demand for CBI and Golden visa programs. It made more people realize the importance of plan B for the future and the importance of alternative citizenship or residence abroad and not to be trapped by one passport.
We have seen a huge rise in inquires especially from the US, UK and other developed countries. A number of high profile wealthy people have been investing in second passports for the future.
Citizenship for families have emerged as the best safe haven investments during pandemic. Investing in family has become more important than ever.
Rise in Popularity of Online platforms
Best citizenships is the first online citizenship platform launched in 2011. It was only during Covid, our online platforms have reached mainstream popularity. Our platforms are free of charge and we make it cheaper for clients without any brokers. See how we work here
CBI becomes Cheaper and Easier
CBI programs have become more cheaper and easier to apply. Covid hit countries have slashed prices for citizenship by investment programs giving huge savings. Perhaps this is the best time to apply. With new vaccine, we can go back quickly to normal life like before and covid wont be with us forever.
The CBI/RBI industry also is expected to face a slowdown in and the impact will be felt in the coming weeks.
Essential service such as due diligence reports, passport delivery, business trips, events and conferences may be disrupted. Immigration and citizenship offices likely face a shutdown issuing visas or passports for applicants.
Governments may well take new measures to further simplify CBI regulations, for example filing applications completely online and excluding personal visits.
Asia is known to be the powerhouse pumping the $15 billion investment migration industry, as the industry significantly depends on chinese investors. With the large number of chinese wont be able to travel due to lockdown, applications for CBI and golden visa schemes does see a slowdown.
From what we have seen, many of our clients are still afraid to make investment decisions. After all they are investing in a huge sum of money, and many are carefully waiting for the Covid to be over soon with new vaccine.
Caribbean programs have largely resisted Covid. CBI continues to be only source of revenue for small countries with travel, tourism and local businesses coming to a standstill.
2. Events and Conferences
The Coronavirus has forced CBI events and conferences into online streaming (zoom) or through webinars avoiding any human to human contact for their own safety.
3. Due diligence
Due diligence firms conducting background checks in countries with coronavirus (eg. china, egypt) struggle with delays in providing risk reports to Government. This process already takes 2 months and depending on the country and lockdowns imposed.
Banking transactions may experience delays in processing payments. Due to shortage of employees causing delays in AML checks received through correspondent banks.
Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies will see a huge surge and boom in usage, as these networks are able to function independently without any single point of control. Remember we also launched citizenship coin way back in 2018 for CBI industry.
4. Global Recession
The markets around the world will feel the pinch of recession and investors will be cautious investing their money. Travel and tourism will have the most impact.
5. Travel and Visa restrictions
The travel and tourism industry is one of the world’s largest industries with a global economic contribution of $7.6 trillion dollars in 2016. The corona virus is already causing a huge slowdown in Asia with falling revenues for all businesses connected the travel and tourism industry with major airlines refusing to fly passengers to infected countries.
As the virus spreads its tentacles, more countries may impose more visa restrictions to contain the virus. This is expected to last for months.
6. Real Estate
The Chinese are the top investors in the golden visa schemes running in Portugal, Greece, United States, Canada and Ireland. Expect a widespread slowdown in real estate market in these countries.
Since a personal visit required to complete land registration formalities and applying for residence permits, clients from asian countries that are on lockdown wont be able to travel and complete the formalities. Visas are not issued at consulates abroad anymore.
Some countries have eased the whole process can be completed at consulates abroad.
7. Wealth decline
The slump in global markets worldwide may cause wealth to decline in Asia and other countries. This will have an indirect impact the number of HNW families applying for citizenship and golden visa schemes. For example Australia has the most attractive permanent residence program targeted at wealthy investors who invest atleast $1.5m in Australia.
Likewise Quebec and EB-5 may well see a slowdown in investments from Asian markets (eg. South Korea, Vietnam, China including Hong Kong )
8. Travel and Tourism
Agents and companies who promote citizenship and residence immigration schemes wont be able to travel to promote their businesses because of the fear and chaos caused by coronavirus.
CBI citizens be able travel freely to enjoy their visa free benefits with their new passport.
In Europe, Schengen internal borders are closed and only certain categories of travelers are allowed provided two negative PCR tests and 14 days of quarantine.
9. Personal visits
All citizenship by investment programs that impose a personal visit or residence requirement (eg. Malta, Cyprus, Bulgaria) will face drastic fall in applications and will struggle to attract investors, as it is impossible for investors to visit these countries to complete the formalities.
On the other hand CBI programs that have no personal visit requirement (eg. St Kitts, Grenada, St Lucia) are more popular than ever.
Oaths can be taken through video conferencing in front of government officials. There is a possibility that CBI schemes may become even cheaper in fees if the workload is switched completely digital.
Countries that depend on golden visa schemes tied to real estate can expect a slowdown or imminent recession.
The shortage of employees in the logistics industry due to outbreak, essential services such as passport printing and delivery, receipt of paper applications will see delays and slow deliveries.
To mitigate this effect CBI units must switch filing applications and issuing approval letters fully online.
Unfortunately, the Passport technologies is still lag behind (we depend a lot on paper passports) , it is only a matter of time, passports go fully digital through mobile app. Nano technology for passports will be the future.
11. Employee shortage
The outbreak may result in shortage of employees for many firms involved in the immigration industry. Employees will be forced to work from home impacting services provided to clients.
12. Dual Citizens
Dual citizens who are already passport holders with CBI schemes, unless you travel or transit through restricted countries, you will be permitted to enter CBI countries subjected to quarantine.
Keep a close eye on visa and travel restrictions.
Some Clients find it difficult to arrange necessary documents for CBI programs such as police clearance, health certificate and certifications such as apostille from local authorities.
Several government immigration offices have been closed or restricted timings.
The bottom line is for the investment immigration industry will continue to survive Covid and the industry will continue to grow to new heights.
What do learn from the Coronavirus? This can only be answered by a question.
Have you heard the old saying Health is the most important wealth?. It all goes down to “nothing is more important than health”.
If at all we learnt anything from the lockdown is the importance of family and loved ones.