The concept of immigration dates back thousands of years. Individuals have historically sought to leave their native countries in search of better employment opportunities and standard of living, or to escape war, persecution or political oppression.
Today, many governments welcome skilled and professionally qualified migrants to live and work in their countries. Visas and residence permits are typically available at different levels and with varying requirements dependent on the skills and background of migrants. Many of these migrants settle in their new country and eventually become permanent residents or naturalized citizens.
The notion of using personal wealth to make investments leading to foreign residency and citizenship is relatively new. Investor immigration programs have existed since the mid-1980s, and the last 10 years have seen significant growth in the industry, both in the number of applicants and in the number of jurisdictions offering such programs.
Investor immigration can be divided into two broad categories: Citizenship by investment and residence by investment. The former involves making investments to qualify for fast-track citizenship. The latter typically involves the granting of a visa or residence rights, which may eventually lead to the option of applying for citizenship after a number of years.