The Henley Residence Program Index 2022 provides a comprehensive benchmarking of the world’s 25 most important residence programs. Indispensable for all those considering residence by investment, this interactive tool enables investors to select the factors that matter most to them and their families.
In constructing the Henley Residence Program Index 2022 we have referred to multiple sources and experts to obtain and interpret the primarily qualitative data used. We have relied principally on the expertise of residence and citizenship analysts and the experience of investors and government officials. As a result, the explanatory power that supports the scores in the different categories is based on surveys, interviews with respondents, and opinions solicited from selected experts. Where possible, the subjectivity of the various factors has been assessed against publicly available data and widely accepted composite indicators.
The data for surveys and interviews has been consistently collected from a representative sample that includes respondents, experts on citizenship, and practitioners who have been involved in the design of qualitative research in global mobility and related spaces. The sample frame for respondents consists of existing and potential investors, their advisors, and government officials in countries that either already have, or are in the process of establishing, investment migration programs. Relying on potential clients means that the responses of those who decided against proceeding with any program are also included. It may also be noted that among our respondent and expert base are government officials and consultants engaged in investment migration programs that have been discontinued as well as those that are in the process of being established or reformed.
The factors that are analyzed in the index are as follows:
Reputation relies on the perceptions of investors and advisors regarding the image of the countries in which they invest. This indicator is subjective by nature, but much like the Attractiveness Indicators employed by the IMD in its Executive Opinion Surveys, our intention was to allow our respondents and informants the space to consider intangible and unanticipated factors while assessing the reputation of destination countries.
Endeavoring to assess reputation is not new, and the relationship between reputation and outcome is a popular mechanism for assessing the competitiveness of organizations, cities, and even regions. Furthermore, the reputation of a country, much like the reputation of a corporate, is a historical indicator that allows its previous efforts to meet investor expectations to be assessed.
The assessment of Quality of Life uses a wide range of methods to evaluate subjective perceptions of various sample groups in different contexts, as well as developing factors that are independent of subjective perceptions. Like Reputation, Quality of Life could well benefit from considering investors’ experiences and what is particularly relevant to individuals who are interested in investment migration.
We are aware, moreover, that there are substantial institutional efforts in developing composite indicators for Quality of Life — the United Nations Human Development Index is one of the most comprehensive (relying on life expectancy at birth, schooling, literacy rates, and gross national income per capita). These factors do not cover all civil and political liberties though; for assessing democratic values, Freedom House’s Freedom in the World report is a preferable indicator.
As our focus is also on investment, the World Bank’s Doing Business reports are pertinent, since investors may have to negotiate the regulatory environment of destination countries for a variety of economic activities. We have sought to anchor the framing of our questions in established indicators but recognize that such indicators do not always correspond to what is being assessed in the Henley Residence Program Index 2022.
The methodology for this factor is relatively straightforward. It aims to measure an improvement in the mobility of an investor, or their ability to enter additional countries visa-free or with visa-on-arrival access because of being a resident in a particular jurisdiction.
This factor relies on the 2022 Henley Passport Index, which curates data from 227 different travel destinations (including countries, territories, and micro-states), collated by the International Air Transport Association, to arrive at the ranking. The Henley Passport Index compares data on the number of destinations that a citizen of a given country can visit without requiring a prior visa. A relaxed travel policy is worthwhile in itself, but it also characterizes a country’s political regime and the extent of its civil liberties.
While acquiring alternative citizenship is more directly linked to ease of travel, an alternative residence can also enhance the mobility of individuals. It thus also features as a factor that motivates residence investments and is included in the Henley Residence Program Index 2022.
Processing time for applications and their quality of processing are distinct aspects that are assessed differently. Some countries offer a short processing time between lodging an application and issuing a visa or permit, but there may be uncertainties in administrative processes. Analysis of valuable input from informants and respondents has verified the official or declared processing times and complemented ‘hard’ data on actual processing time taken (namely, the number of days), including obstructions faced.
Countries have different procedures and varying due diligence requirements for profiling applicants (including police records and financial statements), sources of funds, the manner of fund transfers, and the vulnerability to abuse of the funds invested. The standard measures adopted are best practices developed by international associations and professional agencies for anti-money laundering, counter-terrorist financing, and anti-bribery and corruption. The EU, unlike the USA, does not have a joint or federal procedure for conducting due diligence, so EU countries differ widely in terms of their national rules. Clear information and frameworks regarding due diligence facilitate better risk assessments for potential investors. A more intensive due diligence requirement may be an advantage as this translates into less uncertainty in private investments. Since financial institutions usually engage in Know Your Customer audits regardless of the regulations of investment migration programs, they are less vulnerable than private investments. Vulnerability to money laundering in different sectors could, furthermore, be avoided in the presence of clear regulations.
The upfront investment amounts for residence differ in terms of amount required, nature of investment, and additional costs. The range of required investment amounts is broad, and the nature of the investment is not always left to the discretion of the investor. Options for different forms of investment are specified by the destination governments, largely depending on policy considerations and benefits to the respective countries. Generally, a country offering more choice in how to invest and requiring lower investment amounts (including additional costs) scores higher.
This factor raises the question of the extent of the tax burden that a resident is required to bear for both corporate and personal economic activities. It is rare for a country not to impose any taxes on its residents. The only country in our indexes that has that distinction is Monaco, since it does not impose personal income tax, property tax, capital gains tax, or net worth taxes. For all other countries, preferential tax schemes and tax waivers, and incentives for applicants with significant investments heavily influence the score arrived at for this factor.
Sometimes the stated investment amount does not constitute the total actual cost an investor must bear to acquire residence status. As the nature of investment differs considerably across programs, it is difficult to compare the total actual cost of investment. Programs that offer a range of investment options score higher in this sub-indicator. Some investors have, however, raised questions about the uncertainties and volatility of foreign markets and therefore the value of choosing options that appear to be safer. Generally, destination countries that reduce investors’ opportunity costs by providing a wider choice of investments or by offering incentive-based investments are considered by investors to be more attractive.
The time it takes applicants to gain citizenship is one of the criteria for assessing a residence by investment program’s attractiveness.
This refers to the process of naturalizing as a citizen once already a resident, which is distinct from direct citizenship by investment. Countries that have appeal in this regard offer a relatively fast path to citizenship, mainly because the time it takes to naturalize is comparatively short. However, this factor considers both the formal time required and any physical presence requirements. Countries with prohibitive rules governing the transition to citizenship score zero.
This factor examines all the requirements to qualify for naturalization after the specified minimum time has been fulfilled, including physical presence requirements, additional investment requirements or other ‘commitment’ requirements, and other requirements to qualify for citizenship, such as language requirements and cultural integration tests. In some countries, the transition from permanent residence to citizenship is less demanding and there are minimal additional requirements. Other countries have stringent requirements for physical presence but few additional requirements.
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