Chasing the golden visa: India tops world in investment migration

March 31, 2022

Indian nationals have shown the greatest appetite for investment migration in the world — whereby wealthy investors acquire alternative residence or additional citizenship in exchange for making a substantial contribution to the host country, shows data from the Henley Global Citizens Report released by Henley & Partner.

The past two years have seen three Cs driving wealth and investment migration: Covid, climate change, and cryptocurrency. In 2022, a fourth C has abruptly emerged: conflict in Europe. The report revealed that Indian nationals topped the charts for enquiries received for investment migration by the firm in 2021 by a significant margin, with a growth of 54% compared to 2020 — a year which itself saw a 63% rise in interest shown by Indian investors. US citizens were next in line, receiving 26% more enquiries in 2021 after astonishing growth of 208% in 2020. Enquiries by Brits and South Africans shot up by 110% and 38%, respectively, in 2021.

While historically and the USA have been extremely popular education hubs for Indian families, now many are also becoming receptive to Europe. In fact European residence by investment migration programs like those offered by Greece, Malta, Portugal, and other golden visas on the continent have gained a great deal of traction and interest in the last few years.

A number of European countries are also being considered as potential places to own retirement or vacation homes, conduct business, and enjoy lifestyle benefits. In fact data from Leptos Estates, one of the leading property developers in and Greece, shows that 70% of investment migration enquires have come from Indian buyers for Limassol in Cyprus, which is shaping up to become Europe’s new Riviera. Leptos Estates has now opened offices in Bombay, Delhi and Bangalore due to the increased interest from Indian buyers looking for homes in both Cyprus and Greece to take advantage of the permanent residency programme that allows for longer movement across the EU, post-Brexit.

The permanent residency programme in these countries does not require buyers in India to give up their Indian passports – it allows them to have a have a second home and to enjoy travel throughout the EU.

“Additional drawcards of Europe’s programs are the comparatively low investment requirements and faster processing times than, say the US-EB 5 Immigrant Investor Program. There is a huge upside to investing EUR 250,000 to EUR 280,000 in Europe and also receiving a residence card of a Schengen country compared to investing the same amount in Mumbai, Delhi, Colombo, or Dhaka, for example,” said Nirbhay Handa, Group Head of Business Development at Henley & Partners. The most popular programs are the programs in Portugal and Greece on the residence by investment front, and Malta and Montenegro on the citizenship by naturalization/citizenship by investment front.

Data from the report also shows that the top three countries in terms of privately-held wealth are now the US, China, and Japan. India ranks 4th in terms of privately-held wealth countries in the world. In fact, its ranking and total wealth is ahead of major economies like Germany and UK and is expected to overtake Japan by 2040.

 “India’s 4th-place ranking and total wealth of $8.9 trillion is also notable as it places the country ahead of major economies such as Germany and the UK.

 India has been steadily moving up the W10 over the past decade and it is expected to overtake Japan before 2040. In 2022, we are seeing very similar trends, with early signs of exceeding last year’s stellar overall growth. The combination of W10 countries and developing economies that make up our Top 10 reflects the universal appeal of investment migration for affluent families,” said Dominic Volek, Group Head of Private Clients at Henley & Partners.


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