As per Government of India’s data released on 9th of February 2021, over 6.76 lakh Indians gave up Indian nationality between 2015 and 2019. Of these 1.36 lakh Indians renounced Indian citizenship in 2019.
The number might look big, however, considering India’s population, this is merely 0.0099% of the total population. The net effect would be even lower once we consider the number of other nationalities taking Indian citizenship and PIOs returning to India. So, there is no ‘exodus’ of Indian citizens to developed countries, as some media might portray.
However, small the percentage may be, Indian citizens, are opting for a second passport. Indians rank only second to the Chinese in terms of the number of applicants of the US EB-5 investor visa market and the clear majority of second passports and residencies sold around the world.
Apart from the job-related immigration, many Indians are exploring residency through investment, golden visa programs, which confer residency and even citizenship in exchange for an investment, as they look for an attractive and stable residential option for their selves and their families.
So why are these Indians opting for citizenship of another country and which are these countries that Indians are migrating to?
For educated and aspiring Indians, global business links and children’s education in top schools or universities in Europe, the UK, or the US, are some of the key factors driving their decisions to opt for the investment visa programs. For some, it is about joining their relatives who are settled abroad. For some, taxes are a big worry. Some HNIs are leaving due to what they claim are high taxes. There is another category of Indians who are migrating only to lead a life filled with less anxiety, more like a retirement plan.
Caribbean programs, like that from countries like Antigua, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts, and St Lucia are the most cost-effective and offer a host of advantages like visa-free access to more than 130 countries, including the UK and the EU Schengen Area. These passports require investments starting from about €90,000 in government bonds etc. However, recently there have been concerns raised by Canada and the European Union about the visa-free travel permitted into these countries from the Caribbean countries.
European countries like Cyprus charges an upward of €2 Million for citizenship. It has been the favorite for ultra-high net worth individuals. Its ease of doing business, tax-friendly business climate, quality of life, long and never-ending pristine beaches away from the chaos of an Indian metropolis have been its plus points.
Spain, Greece, Ireland, and Portugal have residency programs starting from €280,000 with varying requirements for a stay.
Asia Pacific countries like Australia and New Zealand give investor’s visa with varying requirements and investments starting from INR 5 crs onwards. HNI Indians with relatives and business interests in these countries seek to move to these countries.
Some Indians are slowly showing interest in Slovenia’s residency programs. Slovenia is one European country that has been hidden from all the limelight. Known as the hidden gem of Europe, it is a highly advanced country and ranks high on almost all socio-economic parameters. Slovenia is one of the greenest and environmentally friendly countries in the world. Its unique topography has no parallel. With its central location and its proximity to European Union countries, it is an attractive destination to invest in a new or existing business. Slovenia’s residency by investment program starts at as low as €50,000 and offers all the advantages like any other country’s program. With its Blue Card program, qualified Indians can reside in Slovenia without any investment and transact business with other European Union countries. Children’s education, including foreigners’, is state funded. Health care is free for all residents irrespective of nationalities.
Europe, with its culture and history, has always been a favourite tourist destination for many. With all the turmoil in the US and the uncertainty of the Caribbean programs, European residency programs are gaining rapid traction amongst Indians. Depending on the investment capability and expectation from the new country Indians are making their life-changing decision of moving to a new country for a brighter and calmer future.