The number of wealthy Britons seeking EU citizenship has shot up substantially since the beginning of this year, immigration agencies say.
Investment immigration firm Astons has seen a 50% and 30% year-on-year increase in interest from clients seeking Cypriot or Greek citizenship respectively this quarter, Reuters reports.
Henley & Partners also reported a rise in requests for advice on citizenship in Malta, Portugal, Austria and several Caribbean islands, which enjoy special access to the EU market.
“This isn’t about tourists. This is the UK high net worth community that have a constant need to travel to and spend significant time in the EU,” said Henley & Partners director Paddy Blewer.
“This is investment migration as a volatility hedge and a component in a high net worth portfolio value defence strategy,” he said, adding that interest was now higher than immediately after the 2016 Brexit referendum.
This comes as the European Commission examines ways to curb EU member selling passports and citizenships to wealthy individuals.
In December, Reuters reported how some Tory donors had sought Cypriot citizenship including hedge fund manager Alan Howard.
“Both Cypriot and Caribbean investments are proving very popular… primarily driven by high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) from the UK who have an eye on the future and life after Brexit,” said Astons spokesman Konstantin Kaminskiy.
Henley & Partners said that number of clients engaging in alternative citizenship requests shot up by 40% in the first quarter of 2020 versus Q1 2019, before flattening during the COVID-19 lockdown in Q2.
Interest has rallied since July 1, with a 15% year-on-year increase in engagement to September 10, as the end of the Brexit transition phase nears.
Henley & Partners’ Blewer said clients were increasingly drawn to Caribbean citizenship applications – which is likely to give them better travel access to the EU than Britain – but which have a lower minimum investment and a quicker approval process.