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Second residence: where rich Southeast Asians want to invest

Rising affluence in Southeast Asia is driving demand for second residence and citizenship, says Dominic Volek, head of Southeast Asia at Henley & Partners

Rising affluence in Southeast Asia is driving demand for second residence and citizenship among the region’s 6.2 million high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and ultra-HNWIs.

This is according to Dominic Volek, head of Southeast Asia at immigration law firm Henley & Partners.

Volek said that Henley & Partners has seen a 320% year-on-year increase in the number of enquiries on alternative residence and citizenship from Southeast Asian clients.

‘Having multiple passports, nationalities, or residence permits has become synonymous with worldliness, interconnectivity, and savoir-faire,’ Volek said.

Here are five destinations that proved popular among wealthy Southeast Asians this year.

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Rising affluence in Southeast Asia is driving demand for second residence and citizenship among the region’s 6.2 million high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and ultra-HNWIs.

This is according to Dominic Volek, head of Southeast Asia at immigration law firm Henley & Partners.

Volek said that Henley & Partners has seen a 320% year-on-year increase in the number of enquiries on alternative residence and citizenship from Southeast Asian clients.

‘Having multiple passports, nationalities, or residence permits has become synonymous with worldliness, interconnectivity, and savoir-faire,’ Volek said.

Here are five destinations that proved popular among wealthy Southeast Asians this year.

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Malta

Offering both residence- and citizenship-by-investment programs, Malta is the most popular destination for Southeast Asia’s rich, Volek told Citywire Asia.

Depending on the program, HNWIs are required to invest in real estate and government bonds as well as make a non-refundable government contribution for a minimum of five years.

Citizens of the Mediterranean nation have the right to live, work and study in any of the 28 European Union (EU) countries and Switzerland as well as travel visa-free to 183 countries.

A Maltese resident, meanwhile, has an EU residence card allowing for visa-free travel within the Schengen area.

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Thailand

According to Volek, an increasing number of wealthy families and retired individuals want to take advantage of Thailand’s temperate climate, landscape and leisure facilities.

The executive said that Thailand’s one-of-a-kind residence program is also attractive to foreigners as it allows them to live in the country for up to 20 years.

The residence program comes with VIP privileges such as a dedicated personal assistant for booking international flights and lounge access and a 24-hour member contact center.

Residence options range from THB 500,000 ($15,285) for the five-year Elite Easy Access option to THB 2.14 million ($ 65,443) for the 20-year Elite Ultimate Privilege option.

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Cyprus

Cyprus is considered an attractive destination for both business and residence because of its well-qualified labour force, ease of doing business and transparent regulatory framework,  Volek said.

Citizenship through the Cyprus Investment Program requires an investment of at least €2 million ($2.2 million) in real estate.

Cypriot citizenship gives investors access to the EU countries and Switzerland, and the citizenship can be passed down to future generations.

The main requirement of the residence-by-investment program, meanwhile, is the purchase of property valued at no less than €300,000 ($342,114) plus value-added taxes.

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Portugal

Portugal, one of Europe’s oldest countries with a population of 11 million, offers a residence-by-investment program for non-EU nationals.

Investors can take multiple routes to gain residency in Portugal. They can invest in real estate, funds, refurbishment of national heritage projects or create a minimum of 10 jobs.

What’s more, residents can apply for citizenship after five years while keeping other citizenships.

HNWIs are drawn to Portugal because it offers a high level of security, excellent international and Portuguese schools and universities and high-class healthcare facilities, Volek explained.

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Grenada

With options starting from $150,000, Grenada has the only Caribbean citizenship program that offers successful applicants with visa-free access to China, making it a popular choice for wealthy investors.

Citizens get visa-free access to 144 countries in total, including the Schengen area and Hong Kong, and can pass down their citizenship to future generations without restriction.

Grenada also holds an E-2 Investor Visa treaty with the US, which allows citizens to be eligible to apply for a non-immigrant visa.

The country does not offer a residence program for investors.

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