Where are India’s dollar millionaires fleeing?

THE ECONOMICS TIMES

by Ishani Duttagupta

Ruchir Sharma, head of emerging markets and chief global strategist at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, said at an event in Delhi recently that the highest number of millionaires leaving their country of origin was from India. His comment was based on a survey carried out by NW Wealth, which found 23,000 millionaires have left India since 2014. In 2017, it was 7,000.

So why and where are these Indian millionaires going? Bob Dhillon, Canadian-Indian real estate magnate and chief executive officer of Mainstreet Equity Corp, sees this as the third wave of migration from India — after poor and marginal farmers from Punjab moved to western countries over a century ago and, later, professionals left India in search of better working and living conditions. The US, not surprisingly, is a big draw for high net worth Indians, looking to tap international markets markets and pursue entrepreneurial dreams.

“The US EB-5 investment route to a faster green card is popular because it is secure and less expensive than citizenship process in many other countries. It is also a route to a green card for many families, to provide education in the US for their children, or for professionals stuck in long H-1B queues,” says Brennan Sim, senior vice-president of EB5 United, a firm offering immigration services.

Ishaan Khanna, who recently got a green card through the EB-5 route, is an example. Having graduated in information systems from the US, he opted for the EB-5 programme to get a green card faster. “My parents run a business in India and they put in the money for my application. I don’t see them moving to the US. But, for me, the green card has opened up a host of opportunities.”

“For young and well-heeled Indian business persons and professionals,” says Dhillon, “Canada is a favourite destination because the fabric of this country is changing. Canada offers better quality of life in terms of education, health and infrastructure. People of Indian origin here are doing well in different walks of life.” Mumbai-based lawyer Poorvi Chothani finds a lot of interest among wealthy Indian parents in their 40s to move to western countries “to make a better life for their children.”

Many Indians who have lived and worked abroad find it difficult to return to India because of lifestyle issues, she adds. Mark I Davies, global managing partner of Davies & Associates, a global law firm, says some Indians who get fast-track permanent residency in countries such as Portugal or Grenada may be using these as a stepping stone to immigrate to the US, Canada or the UK. “The US provides the best opportunities for Indians who are entrepreneurial,” he adds.

While the US and the UK remain popular for Indian HNIs, there are a few surprises too:

US
PR Route: EB-5 or Employment-based Immigrant Investor Program.

Requirement: Have to invest in a new commercial enterprise that will create full-time positions for at least 10 qualifying employees The minimum qualifying investment is $1 million in the US; and $500,000 if in targeted employment areas.

Advantages: It takes about a year and a half for an EB-5 applicant to get a conditional green card; six months to receive approval for an I-526 petition Considering the long queues for green cards for highly skilled professionals, this is a fast-track solution Indian high net worth families explore it as an option for their children’s higher education in the US.

UK
PR Route: Tier-1 (Investor) visa.

Requirement: Access to at least £2,000,000 in investment funds.

Advantages: Suitable for small and medium business families looking to set up shop in the UK and Europe Can apply to settle after 2 years with £10 million investment.

PORTUGAL
Golden Resident Permit Programme.

Requirement: The programme yields a residency permit in Portugal to non-EU investors who provide proof that investment funds originate from abroad, who have no criminal record and the whose property is not frozen within the boundaries of the EU Applicants have to acquire property valued at €500,000 or more or €350,000 or more for properties more than 30 years old or located in urban regeneration areas designated for refurbishing.

Advantages: Unlike many residency and citizenship programmes around the world, the investment doesn’t have to be in any specific government-recognised development. It could be in real estate, commercial or residential It provides an entry into the EU for businesses and is a simple and easy route to permanent residency.

GRENADA
PR Route: Citizenship by Investment Programme.

Requirement: Invest $2 million in Grenada’s economy or real estate development to gain citizenship to live or work in the Caribbean country $25,000 per additional dependent after the third dependent Under the direct investment route, applicants may either immediately apply for citizenship, or first apply for permanent residence and apply for citizenship at a later stage The programme is governed by a legal protocol. Application is by invitation and each applicant, their family and/or business partners must be approved individually by the government of Grenada.

Advantages: Besides the opportunity to live and work in Grenada, which has a favourable investment climate and thriving tourism industry, this also provides a route to the US E2 investment visa programme which is closed to Indian citizens.

CANADA
PR Route: British Columbia Entrepreneur Program.

Requirement: Candidates have to open a qualifying new business in the province, or significantly expand an existing one, to qualify for expedited Canadian permanent residency. This is part of the British Columbia Provincial Nominee Program.

Personal net worth of at least C$600,000.

Minimum investment of C$200,000.

Creation of at least one new job.

Advantages: Quality of life in Canada, including healthcare, education and infrastructure Large Indian diaspora and multicultural society.

CYPRUS
PR Route: Residential Investment Scheme.

Requirement: €2 million in real estate and land development to be locked in for three years At least €500,000 in a single residential property.

Advantages: Citizenship for the whole family: spouse, parents and children under the age of 18 and financially dependent children up to 28 years Fast-track, three-month approval of Cyprus passport and citizenship application; six months for whole process.

No residency requirement.

Applies to all nationalities.

Fastest and most direct way to EU citizenship.

Cyprus allows dual citizenship.