The number of ultra-wealthy Americans purchasing “golden passports” from other countries has soared since 2019, according to ‘investment migration’ firms which reportedly saw an uptick of 300% or more in individuals wishing to establish secondary citizenship abroad. For a price tag that ranges from $100,000 to $9.5 million (depending upon the country), a growing number of tech entrepreneurs, celebrities, and other extremely wealthy individuals are using so-called “Citizenship by Investment” (CIP) programs to ensure a possible exit route from the US if the domestic situation continues to worsen.
An opinion poll published May 2 showed just 40% of US voters have confidence in President Joe Biden’s handling of economic affairs-“the lowest confidence level a president has received since George W. Bush in 2008.” With inflation rates having doubled in just a year, the public’s trust in Biden, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, and top Democratic leaders has decreased by double digits between April 2021 and April 2022, according to Gallup.
“We’ve all lived through the past two and a half years,” said the head of one firm specializing in CIPs. “It all just reminded us how vulnerable and frail we are, and people who have means are accepting that it will happen again — and they don’t want to be caught off guard.”
He reportedly received more requests for a golden passport “over the past three years” than in “the previous 20 years combined,” and says all his new clients share a “deep-rooted fear about the future of American society.”
According to the head of private clients at Henley & Partners, there are “four C’s” helping to drive the huge upswing: COVID-19, climate change, cryptocurrency, and conflict.
“We see these programs as an insurance policy,” said Ezzedeen Soleiman, the managing partner of a similar group, Latitude. “We’ve had some billionaires approach us and ask what’s the best place to live if there’s a climate catastrophe, or if there’s another storm, or another global pandemic.”
According to Soleiman, one destination in particular seems to hold particular appeal for Americans of exorbitant wealth who “are either disappointed in what’s happening in the US or are not seeing the opportunities that they once saw in the US”: Portugal.
“Portugal is the next California” for Americans who see European citizenship as a “legacy plan” for their descendants, he said, citing its relatively low cost of $200,000 and the relative ease of travel by its citizens within Europe.
Wealthy foreigners looking to obtain citizenship in the US have long employed a similar method, the EB-5 visa, which lets those who invest over $900,000 in the US jump to the front of an otherwise extremely-crowded immigration line. But amid growing disillusionment in the future economic prospects of the US, there’s little wonder why financial advisers and experts alike say the rich are increasingly looking elsewhere.