Mykolas Rambus, Chairman of GIIC, featured in International Adviser: IOM strategy manager cites investor visa ‘race to the bottom’
There is a “race to the bottom” when it comes to investor visa schemes in Europe, but the high net worth strategy manager for the Isle of Man Government argued that the island’s immigration program is an attractive option for investors.
Speaking to International Adviser, Nick Preskey – who works for the Isle of Man’s department of economic development – said there was a spike in applications just before the island doubled the minimum threshold for its tier one investor visa program to £2m in November last year.
But with cheaper and simpler visa programs available in places like Cyprus and Malta, he suggested immigrants are looking beyond the British Isles to acquire an EU passport.
Cheaper and easier
“It is human nature for people to look for the cheapest and the easiest ways of gaining access to certain countries,” Preskey said, adding however that the demand for the UK program is unlikely to diminish completely because Britain is seen to hold the blue riband passport.
Last month, the chair of the Global Investor Immigration Council Mykolas Rambus said the affordability of emerging immigration schemes in Bulgaria, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Portugal, Spain, Malta and Cyprus means they are likely to grow in appeal.
In the past year, three of the most popular programs in the world – including the US, Canada and Hong Kong – were suspended after reaching their limit.
“We have seen the benefits of having these high net worth people residing on the island and the jobs they have created”
“It is interesting that lots of countries are at different stages in their evolution on immigration,” said Preskey. “I think it’s fair to say the Isle of Man is at the beginning of its evolution.”
Preskey said, while the Isle of Man program is closely aligned with the UK investor visa initiative, the island is looking to attract different kinds of applicants, particularly individuals who can help grow the economy through employment.
He pointed out that the island’s simple tax regime and free property market are factors which attract high net worth individuals, and estimated that high net worth individuals resident on the island create around £25m ($38m, €35m) in tax revenue.
“These might not be huge numbers when comparing it to the UK, but for the Isle of Man it will make a difference to our economy and gets recirculated in our economy,” Preskey said.
“We have seen the benefits of having these high net worth people residing on the island and the jobs they have created.”
Preskey, who is the first person to have been granted a full-time HNW strategy manager position on the island, said the government is keen to attract people who are going to be economically active and make a positive contribution.
He emphasised that other visa programs are just as attractive, including the entrepreneur and the key employee concession scheme, where a key employee of a business is allowed to bring their worldwide income to the Isle of Man free of tax for three years.
“We think people might move to the island to create some business and build up funds, perhaps investing in the UK from an Isle of Man base. There is something in it for everybody.”
This article was originally published in International Adviser by Katherine Denham, and can be found here.