Wealthy Americans are racing to get the EU’s last ‘golden passport’ before it’s gone.

Luxury yachts and yachts in Karkala Marina with Vittoriosa to the right as seen from Upper Barrakka Gardens at dusk in Valletta, Malta.

A luxury yacht moored at Kalkara Marina in Malta, a small island nation off the coast of Italy.Holger Liu/Getty Images

  • For the first time, Americans are applying for more “Golden Passports” than any other nationality.

  • According to Henley & Partners, 447% increase In US inquiries from 2019.

  • Malta is the only EU member state that offers citizenship in exchange for a pre-determined investment.

For some ultra-rich, the most powerful asset money can buy is not a superyacht or private jet, but a passport.

A “Golden Passport,” formally known as Citizenship by Investment Program, allows wealthy foreigners to obtain citizenship in exchange for investing a certain amount in a country, often by purchasing real estate. to be able to obtain Their less favorable sibling, the ‘Golden Visa’, offers temporary residence permits in exchange for investments, as opposed to permanent residency.

For the first time, more Americans are applying for golden passports and visas than any other nationality, according to Henley & Partners’ 2023 survey. USA Wealth Report, was released on Thursday.Historically, programs have Chinese and Russian citizens.

The record number of U.S. applicants is the result of the wealthy “guaranteeing a future American life” amid inflation, social and political unrest, and a shrinking U.S. middle class. investment expert and financial writer Jeff D. Opdike said in the report.

“We view these programs as insurance,” Ezzedeen Soleiman, managing partner of investor immigration firm Latitude Residency & Citizenship, told Insider in May. “Several billionaires have approached us and asked us where would be the best place to live in the event of a climate catastrophe, another storm, or another global pandemic. “

Americans looking to build passport collections have rapidly declining options

Peter Thiel

Silicon Valley investor and former adviser to President Trump, Peter Thiel, is applying for a Maltese passport, The New York Times reported in October.Alex Wong/Getty Images

Thursday, Portugal announced No longer accepting new applications for the Golden Visa program, Prime Minister Antonio Costa said it would help the country “fight price speculation on real estate”. facing the housing crisisHenley & Partners ranked the Portuguese program as the most popular service among American customers.

Just three days ago, Ireland also shutter Its Golden Visa program. Last year, 282 of his 306 applications were from Chinese citizens, and only 10 were from the United States. Irish Times report.

According to the European Commission, Malta is currently the only country in the EU that still has a pre-determined payment or investment-based citizenship scheme without a “genuine link” to the country, such as long-term residence. is.

This does not include the Austrian citizenship law $9.5 million Directly into the Austrian economy.

Mehdi Kadiri, head of North America at Henley & Partners, said Malta’s Golden Passport scheme is the second most popular program among Americans.

“International real estate has always been a trusted asset class for global investors due to its long-stay power. Retire and invest,” Kadiri said.

Malta’s program full of scandalsattracted the likes of billionaire Silicon Valley investor and former Trump adviser Peter Thiel as the New York Times first report in October. But if the EU gets its way, it may not last long.

Eric Schmidt

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt reportedly applied for European citizenship in 2020 through Cyprus’ now-defunct Golden Passport program.Reuters/Beck Diefenbach

In September, the European Commission Mention The Maltese government has filed a complaint with the EU Court of Justice, claiming that the Golden Passport scheme poses a security risk to unions as a whole.

Being a citizen of an EU member state like Malta brings many privileges such as free movement in 27 countries, voting rights and access to the EU internal market. After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine Golden passports and visas faced global scrutiny For allowing licensed oligarchs access to the UK.

This led to the closure of a series of programs including the UK, Bulgaria and Cyprus. But despite persistent demands from the EU, Malta has so far refused to comply.

To obtain citizenship through a Maltese Golden Passport program, applicants must invest between €590,000 and €740,000 (depending on whether they reside in the country for more than 36 months or less). Purchase property worth at least €700,000 or pay rent at least €16,000 per year (5 years). In addition she contributes 10,000 euros. You will pay a total of EUR 26,500 in non-refundable deposit and fees.

Read the original article at business insider