Q&A with Astons – the Global Citizenship and Residency Experts

Astons is an investment immigration firm offering residence and citizenship solutions in the UK, EU & Caribbean.

With over 30 years’ experience in providing holistic management of legal affairs for private clients, Astons provides advice in investor immigration solutions, relocation to the UK, tax advisory, private education, asset structuring and investment services.

Their wealth of experience and highly-skilled multilingual immigration team and citizenship & residence advisors, ensures a truly international and personalised service, conducted with absolute discretion, speed and integrity. A firm with robust international connections, Astons has offices worldwide, including in London, Moscow, Dubai, China and Cyprus.

We sat down with them discuss how they can help clients gain European citizenship.

 

Considering the increased global mobility of High Net Worth individuals, what are these people looking to gain from their investment abroad?

The surge of popularity of global mobility is due to political and economic instability over recent years and the rise in numbers of the global elite. Wealthy individuals are realising the importance of dual citizenship or sometimes even multi-citizenship for better investment opportunities, better lifestyle choices including visa-free travel worldwide, and preservation of their wealth and security of their families. There seems to be a growing demand especially among the Gulf region, CIS countries and Asia.

 

Tell us about the fast track route to gaining UK or EU citizenship:

Most citizenship by investment programs have a requirement for rigid permanent residence in the country of application, prior to citizenship being granted.  The UK requires a Tier 1 Investor Visa applicant to live in the UK for 5 years prior to applying for UK citizenship after the sixth year, and no more than a total of 900 days of absence from the UK during this five-year period. An investment of £2 million is required with a residence requirement of 5 years, prior to citizenship being applied for in 6 years. Applicants also have the option to ramp up their investment with to reduce their permanent residence requirement to only 3 years with an investment of £5 million, or 2 years with an enhanced investment of £10 million.

Whereas the Cyprus Investment Scheme (Citizenship by Investment) allows for a wealthy non-EU citizens to apply for Cyprus Citizenship and acquire a Cyprus passport within only 180 days, with no physical residency requirements other than a one day visit to provide biometrics for the Permanent Residence Permit (PRP). This is issued within approximately 7 days of application, so a very speedy and straightforward alternative. Once granted, the applicant becomes an EU Citizen, enjoying freedoms to live, work, study and travel visa-free to 171 countries worldwide, including the UK, France, Germany or Spain, or any of the 28 EU member states.

Despite Brexit, the UK government has confirmed that EU nationals will be treated favourably and can apply for an easy, straightforward pre-settlement and then settlement status, enabling them to live in the UK indefinitely, as an EU citizen.

 

What do the benefits of UK and EU citizenship include? Are there any specific benefits for people who are considered to be HNWIs?

  • The UK ranks highly within the top 5 most valuable passports in the world
  • Provides its citizens with visa-free travel to 186 countries worldwide
  • High quality lifestyle and cultural diversity
  • UK Tier 1 Visa is available to the whole family including dependants
  • Can reside outside the UK for up to 180 days a year
  • Growing and stable economy with huge investment potential
  • Access to some of the UK’s top ranking universities in the world
  • Excellent non-domicile taxation benefits in the UK

 

What are the benefits of Cyprus citizenship?

  • Citizenship is granted to the entire family, including spouse, children, adult dependents up to the age of 28, and parents.
  • A one-time visit to Cyprus is required to provide biometrics for the PRP. The applicant must have a PRP for a period of 6 months, prior to naturalisation
  • Strictly investment only – no requirement to make a government donation (unlike Malta and other citizenship programs worldwide)
  • Straightforward process with no medical or language tests
  • Investment of €2 Million to be held only for only 3 years (of which €500,000 is to be held indefinitely)
  • Cyprus citizenship enables the holder to live, work, study and travel visa-free to 171 countries including 28 EU countries, including the UK.
  • EU nationals are eligible for UK Settlement by taking 3 simple steps of proving EU identity, UK residence and clean criminal record.
  • Offers the most attractive onshore tax regime worldwide, with Non-Domiciled individuals being exempt from worldwide dividend, interest and disposal of securities income

 

The benefits of any EU Citizenship by Investment programs are that they allow applicants to become an EU Citizen and enjoy the freedoms to live, work, study and travel visa-free to any of the 28 EU Member states, as well as up to 185 countries worldwide (depending on the EU citizenship program applied for).

For many HNWIs this means that they will have the right to live, invest or educate their children in the northern European countries which are most appealing for HNWIs such as UK, France, Germany, Spain, and Switzerland etc. which have strong emphasis on investment, high standards of living, excellent private and public education, and a strong economic infrastructure with superior health, legal and education systems,  as well as a high calibre lifestyle that meets the HNWI’s quality standards and family values.

 

Do the advantages in terms of tax and investment for ‘non-domiciles’ extend to familial rights?

Yes. In the UK, non-domiciled individuals who come to live in the UK can typically enjoy a privileged tax regime in respect of their non-UK income and gains. This results in low rates of tax and overseas assets can also be protected from inheritance tax.

UK Tier 1 Investor Visa, and Citizenship is applicable to the whole family, including spouse and dependants. In Cyprus, the Investment Scheme and other EU programs allows for the whole family to be eligible, including parents and grandparents.

Cyprus Citizenship can also be passed down to descendants.

 

The UK is home to some of the world’s top universities. How much of a draw is this for HNWIs with children?

This is a massive draw into those who are interested in living in the UK, it is one of the largest interest areas for Chinese and Middle Eastern investors.

In Asia, some wealthy individuals are choosing to apply for EU citizenship so that they can have preferential treatment as EU overseas students. As part of their national sorting process, this secures a firm place for their child at top Chinese universities, where they would not receive preference over EU student applications.  As EU citizens they are also eligible to preferential school fees, which are lower than that of non-EU nationals.

Other investors choose EU citizenship as a quick fix enabling the parent of the student to enter the UK and other EU countries and have rights to live with their children during times of study and after they have attained their degrees, for further studies such as masters and postgraduate degrees.

 

What is certain is that global mobility has fast become big business,  and a conscious choice for the wealthy investor, who is happy to pay premium for citizenship on an expedited basis, to secure their family, preserve their wealth and choose the best lifestyle choices for their whole family, at times of instability and political and economic changes.

In return, such elite investors are enhancing the economy and adding to job creation, and much-needed revenues that add to a country’s stability wealth and economic progression. Hence the reason that many hope will see global mobility as a business here to stay, regardless of the recent scrutiny and constant push for programs to have more rigorous vetting for tax avoidance and due diligence, with some vehemently pushing for them to be entirely prohibited.

 

 

 

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