Wealthy Chinese migrants look for unusual immigration destinations

Published:  19 Apr at 6 PM
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As the present-day Chinese Diaspora gathers momentum fuelled by wealthier business people eager to stash their cash in safe locations, less obvious havens such as Portugal and St Kitts are emerging.

Scared by the savings grab in Cyprus, unimpressed with the USA, disallowed in Canada and perhaps not quite rich enough for Australia, wealthy Chinese families are searching out unusual destinations with reliable banking laws. The small island of St Kitts is happily cashing in on demand, especially in the property sector, with shares in one luxury development being snapped up at $400,000 a slice.

The main reason for its popularity is its offer of a passport included in the deal, giving access to former British colonies as well as to most European countries. The passport, along with citizenship, is granted six months after an investment has been made, without the beneficiary having to come anywhere near the island or take a language test.

Visa-free travel is very important to many Chinese would-be migrants, and those who don’t need a property on the island can buy into citizenship with a $250,000 donation to the country’s sovereign wealth fund, the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund. Cyprus’s 2012 popularity has crashed, leaving many Chinese desperately seeking an alternative and Portugal is already tipped as the next hotspot.

The Portuguese government is climbing on the bandwagon by planning to offer six-year residency visas easily converted into citizenship at a cost of $500,000. Investors only need to live in Portugal for one week in each year to maintain the visa and, again, there’s no language requirement for citizenship.

Barbuda and Antigua are looking to implement similar schemes, although the ultra rich are tempted by Monaco and Switzerland, seen as more secure wealth depositories. The last two, however, are only for the seriously rich, of whom there are a huge number in China, as annual taxes of around €1 million are mandatory for residence.
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