Points to keep in mind before investing in the Golden Visa programme for educational purposes
Residency and citizenship by investment programmes have steadily been gaining in popularity among Indians seeking a quick move overseas. While access to better business opportunities, healthcare and infrastructure explain some of the increasing demand for these so-called “Golden Visas”, education and post-graduate employment opportunities are also major factors. But before investing in this, here are a few things to consider:
Pre-requisites: The specifics vary based on the laws and policies of the country one wants to invest in but common factors are the ability to establish that the investment funds were legally sourced; a clean criminal record; financial stability, especially if other family members are financially reliant; ability to invest certain amount of money for the minimum required time; working with reliable advisors. For example, in the U.S., it is essential to use a lawyer.
Age: Most countries do not allow children over 18 or 21 years as part of a family application. Take the US EB-5 Investor visa as an example: a single investment can include the primary applicant, a spouse, and any children under 21. Since it takes time for the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to process an application, a child may pass the age threshold while the family’s application is pending. If this happens, the child will need their own separate application and investment, which is currently set at $500,000.
The country: If a child aspires to study at a particular university selecting the country is quite straightforward. But, for those open to exploring options, use the Golden Visa options as a starting point, and consider higher education institutions in that country.. Italy, for example, has some of the world’s oldest and most prestigious universities and offers a residency by investment programme starting from just €250,000.
Opportunities for employment: Along with the school and country, students must also analyse post graduation avenues. While some countries offer competitive schooling opportunities, not all offer growth prospects professionally. The United States, for example, allows students to stay on through the Optional Practical Training (OPT) route and then usually the H-1B Visa after the OPT expires. These options are relatively inflexible and place a lot of power with the employer. Obtaining a Green Card through the EB-5 Visa offers the time to find a good job, negotiate with employers on pay and conditions, and switch jobs as they climb the career ladder.
Legal issues: Each country has its set of laws, rules, and restrictions. Therefore, it is advisable to work with an advisor or a licensed lawyer. Working with a law firm who can offer legal advice on both immigration and real estate would be ideal.
Return on investment: Every country offers different investment options, each with its own set of benefits and returns. For example, for some, investing in a real estate property would make more sense; while, for others, parking their money in bank deposits might seem like a better idea. Investments are naturally at risk and some can go up as well as down. Assess the relative merits of each investment and take the help of an immigration attorney. Remember that the citizenship or residency is a return in itself.
Above all, plan well in advance of a child reaching university age.
The writer is the Global Chairman, Davies and Associates, LLC