Wealthy expats in UAE join in Golden Visa rush

Published:  15 Aug at 6 PM
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Demand for foreign citizenship by ultra-wealthy expats in the UAE has soared by 67 per cent over last year’s totals.

Statistics compiled by a Dubai-based immigration firm show a rush to hedge their bets by wealthy expats in the UAE, with the GCC as a whole also seeing increased demand by around 30 per cent. The research seems to confirm the need amongst the entire region’s mega-wealthy expatriates to protect their assets and ensure secure futures for their families by purchasing second passports via Golden Visa schemes.

According to experts in the visa sector, one reason for obtaining a second passport is that it makes the processing of overseas visas far faster as well as allowing the opening of overseas bank accounts as well as the ability to invest overseas. Other advantages include the option of legal residency abroad and easier procedures for starting a business outside the GCC. Access to better quality healthcare and a higher standard of education for children are also given as reasons for buying into another country.

Last year, the top three nationalities choosing to apply for second passports were Syrians, Yemenis and Lebanese, with more than 40 per cent of expats in the UAE having sold their home country properties in order to be able to apply for second citizenship elsewhere in the world. Research also showed an increase in the number of families opting for Golden Visas as against the number of single applicants. Several countries offering the service for hard cash are including families of up to four individuals in single applications resembling a ‘buy one- get three free’ offer.

Each nation offering citizenship and permanent residency has specific requirements, financial obligations and time frames with, for example, citizenships from Domenica and St Lucia available within a few months for a payment of around $100,000 as well as not including a specified obligation to spend time in the countries. A family of up to four members can get residence in Antigua, Barbuda or St Kitts and Nevis for around $135,000, with the fee including lifetime citizenship and passports able to be passed down to descendants at the time of death.
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