In a Nutshell: The border closings of the COVID-19 pandemic quickly transformed the circumstances of personal autonomy. Investors are increasingly responding by diversifying not just in assets but in freedom. End-to-end investment immigration and relocation services by Astons help businesses and private clients add strategic flexibility, asset diversification, and measurable ROI to their wealth management strategies. Options for residency and citizenship by investment through Astons contribute an essential measure of certainty and flexibility in an uncertain global political economy.
COVID-19 brought a matrix of changes that history is just beginning to assess. But one thing’s for sure: The sudden loss of personal autonomy on a global scale taught many in the investment community that freedom of movement has profound value.
To tap into that value, more high-net-worth individuals, family offices, and investment banks are exploring bespoke residency and citizenship services by Astons. And in a far cry from tradition, they’re doing it online — because COVID taught us that as well.
Investment migration programs establish qualifying investments (real estate purchasing and direct donations are most common) that allow individuals to obtain residence or citizenship of a country. The category evolved in the Caribbean in the 1980s to attract capital and expertise and boost development.
Today, Astons works with five Caribbean countries and a few others that offer citizenship by investment. EU/Schengen nations providing residency by investment programs include Greece, Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, and Malta. The details differ in many ways, but all citizenship and residency by investment opportunities bring investors the benefits of multijurisdictional status and freedom.
The key is that Astons handles the transaction from top to bottom on an as-needed basis. Director of Business Development Denis Kravchenko said Astons helps investors diversify beyond assets into personal freedom while returning financial benefits that can exceed other asset classes. Citizenship or residency in a Caribbean or EU country can also mean the freedom to select a tax residence.
“You just go wherever you belong,” Kravchenko said. “And you’re the one to decide, not your government.”
The kicker is that it can all happen remotely. Kravchenko said the surprise of the pandemic was that remote engagement could be even more effective.
“COVID was a game changer — big time,” Kravchenko said. “If you told me back in 2019 that we could advise people on the uncertainty of citizenship and residency on a video call, I would have laughed you out.”
Diversification as a Hedge Against Uncertainty
Investment 101 teaches the importance of diversification, and common sense bears the lesson. There’s no scenario where putting all your investment eggs in one basket makes more sense than a carefully considered portfolio of counterbalancing opportunities.
Pitting one class against another is a classic way for investors to weather ups and downs and come out ahead.
What’s interesting, and what COVID taught us, is that uncertainty extends beyond assets to the benefits of being in one place versus another and having the ability to move around. Kravchenko said Astons’ value proposition rests on the notion that personal autonomy is sacrosanct. It also offers real estate property for sale worldwide that can later lead to a citizenship or residency program.
“Lately, we have many Americans joining us as clients in case things go wrong or another law further scrutinizes their taxes or freedom,” Kravchenko said. “Americans are already taxed globally. What might happen next?”
Greece’s residency by investment program is typical of EU offerings. Greece offers permanent residence within two months in return for a real estate investment of €250,000. The status enables travel throughout the Schengen Zone of 26 EU states, and properties can return a 4-5% annual rental yield.
Saint Kitts and Nevis pioneered citizenship by investment in the 1980s. These programs offer a passport in just 60 days permitting visa-free access to 157 countries worldwide. In return, clients extend an offering of $250,000 to its Sustainable Island State Contribution or make a real estate investment of $400,000.
It’s easy to contact the Astons team of legal and real estate experts and begin a conversation. Compliance-focused Astons leverages industry experience to shepherd clients toward their desired outcomes.
“From a certain perspective, what we do is an arm of wealth management,” Kravchenko said. “Our sector emerged from wealth management and private banking and has matured into its own business.”
Expertise and Analytics Can Generate a Predictable ROI
Investment migration is a great deal for home countries. These are heavily regulated programs, and the privileges of participation become available only after robust due diligence.
“It’s essentially debt-free liquidity from the country’s perspective,” Kravchenko said. “They’re attracting the best of the best: people with money and talent.”
Astons’ fee secures for investors the firm’s top-level legal and real estate expertise, built on a foundation of decades. It also reserves bespoke services to streamline all aspects of the transaction and the individual or family transition to a revised citizenship or residency status.
“We commit to selecting the right property or properties in our contract of service,” Kravchenko said. “We do the ROI analytics and ensure the investor is satisfied and that the investment will generate a certain amount of average return.”
There are no promises in investing, but expertise and analytics help make the difference, Kravchenko said.
Clients come to Astons for various purposes. Many have no plans to relocate for any length of time and look primarily for properties that generate a return. Others, usually with higher budgets, build citizenship or residency programs as fundamental relocation plans.
Others, particularly American investors turning to Astons in increasing numbers, opt to sell their primary residence, establish a sporadic home in their Astons-acquired property, and avail themselves of the travel opportunities their new status affords.
Astons can set up video showings where experts take prospective buyers through every step of the process. It identifies the purity of the deed to eliminate hassles stemming from multiple jurisdictions. It also offers property management services that build on its client relationship of trust and relocation services in some markets for families making big moves.
“It’s a smarter way to go — why not get a passport or a residency card while you’re purchasing real estate?” Kravchenko said.
Earn the Freedom of a Golden Visa or Dual Citizenship
Residency by investment status is also known as the golden visa. Citizenship by investment earns the coveted status of dual citizenship. Astons streamlines citizenship and residency by investment to bring the benefits of financial and physical flexibility to more investors.
Astons maintains a direct connection with home-country service providers to ensure real-time information. And it’s responsible for maintaining the strictest compliance standards in an industry where regulatory change is endemic.
Another factor enticing investors is that real estate values, particularly in the EU but also in the Caribbean, are seemingly always on the upswing. There’s essentially never a bad time to purchase real estate in the EU countries partnering with Astons.
A burgeoning additional opportunity for investors looking for citizenship or residency opportunities relates to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) investing. Following the example of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Caribbean and EU countries offer opportunities to support cultural, developmental, and sustainability initiatives that route funds to specific organizations. It’s another way to create a win-win between investors and developing nations.
“In the Caribbean, they use the funds to build state-of-the-art hospitals, schools, alternative energy programs, and more,” Kravchenko said. “For investors who want to contribute positively to ESG, this is a viable way of considering that.”
Astons’ post-COVID embrace of connecting remotely with clients may establish a boundary between an old and a new way of doing business. As the market has emerged from the pandemic, clients seek something more than an elementary transaction. And that is what fuels Astons’ foray into value-added services.
Kravchenko anticipates changes in the investment migration industry as more countries realize the benefits of connecting with investors on terms they both value. Astons facilitates those connections online as it has for decades in more traditional settings.
“The industry has three parties involved: the investors, the governments, and us,” Kravchenko said. “Our role is to flip things a bit and make everybody a winner.”