Ultrawealthy Americans want to diversify their passports. Agencies trying keep up with demand.
- The American passport has sunk in value during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Now, so many ultrawealthy Americans are looking to depart that some agencies are staffing up their passport services.
- Konstantin Kaminskiy, an associate director at Astons, an investment immigration and relocation provider, said that they're receiving 20 to 30 inquiries a day from Americans.
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The American passport has taken a huge blow this year, and the wealthy are looking to diversify their passport holdings accordingly.
The US is facing potentially record-breaking expatriation numbers, along with an even larger number of citizens looking to acquire second citizenship.
Global tax and immigration lawyers are already contending with increased demand. Apex Capital, which specializes in citizenship by investment (CIP) programs, said it has seen interest increase more than 600% since the election, compared to 2019.
And agencies that cater to Golden Visas — where people can acquire citizenship or residency by investing a certain amount into that country — are also feeling the crunch.
"North America just blew up in terms of demand," Konstantin Kaminskiy, an associate director at Astons, an investment immigration and relocation provider, told Business Insider. "We used to have maybe a couple of dozen Americans investors applying for European residencies or UK residencies per year. Now we have 20 to 30 inquiries per day."
Some of those are Americans looking to actually immigrate. And others still may want to "diversify" their passport holdings for maximum value — or to save their getaways.
"The passports give the clients a chance to travel the world freely without being considered as a US citizen, and automatically attract any attention in terms of COVID," Kaminskiy said.
He said that's one reason that clients are clamoring for citizenship in Caribbean countries like St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua & Barbuda: they want to be able to vacation with ease.
"We have heard of clients who are taking advantage of the extended visas and spending more and more time in that destination," Misty Belles, managing director at luxury travel agency Virtuoso, told Business Insider. "And then we have an agency that has started up a separate passport program. So we know that there's demand for that, that there's interest in doing it."
Embark, a travel agency within the Virtuoso network, just announced their new Dual Citizenship Program. The service will help clients get passports in 15 EU countries, per Travel Weekly; the agency will assist with the genealogical research necessary for ancestral heritage.
Their services start at $2,000 per application. Travel Weekly reports that there was already a waitlist of almost 100 interested clients before the program's launch.
Other clients may be seeking more comfort or stability.
Kaminskiy, the associate director at Astons, said that he's seen interest among Americans with Muslim backgrounds in Turkish citizenship, where there may be a "more welcoming environment."
International tax and immigration advisor and lawyer David Lesperance previously told Business Insider that he'd heard similar reasoning from clients with marginalized racial, religious, and sexual identities. The ultrawealthy who are considering fleeing are worried about the implications of social and civic unrest.
Ultimately, demand has been so high that Aston's has hired three more people for North America alone, Kaminskiy says, into its 38-person organization.
"At the moment we would say that, out of maybe 15 inquiries, we tend to have at least one client who would go through the process," Kaminskiy said. "So it's pretty good, because normally, if we take statistics from all the markets consolidated, then we would say it would be one in a 100 for the US clients."
Some locations aren't shying away from their new longterm visitors. For instance, Luxury Anguilla resort Belmond Cap Julucais offering a special deal at the end of December: for three groups that book suites for up to 10 guests the resort will cover a round-trip private jet trip from Teteroboro Airport to Anguilla. The other condition? The guests need to stay for over 14 days.
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