Factors to look at when choosing an Alternative Residency Programme

For high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth Indians, alternative residency is similar to diversifying your asset portfolio, says Shilpa Menon of LCR Capital Partners. Alternative residency is using investments to secure the ability to immigrate to another country if needed. Optionality is key; to secure your family’s future, you don’t want to stick to one particular asset or to one particular country. You don’t want your legacy to be subject to the whims of one particular jurisdiction. One main reason that people choose alternative residency is to secure better education and job opportunities for their children, because without permanent residency it’s hard to secure these things abroad. Another reason is expanding one’s own business and investments abroad. Permanent residency eliminates visa hassles and allows business owners and investors to be treated on par with citizens of those countries. And a third reason is to hedge against the future; the individual or family may have no immediate plans to move abroad but are keeping that option in their back pocket. The most popular alternative residency country by far is the US; plus there is Portugal in Europe as well as Malta and Greece; plus Canada and Australia. (Menon discusses the recent situation in Portugal extensively.) In gaining an alternative residency, most Indians don’t want to give up their Indian citizenship due to family ties; they just want the option to live abroad and gain the benefits. For the US, for an investment of $800,000 the EB-5 visa is the fastest route to a green card for Indians, about 2 to 3 years, though you can get work, residency, and travel permits much faster if desired, within 5 months. Every country’s program has its nuances, which are discussed here. Also very important is selecting the right attorneys, project administrators and fund managers (since you want your investment back!), and other providers. The best programs give a fairly paltry return, 0.25 to 1 percent on your investment; the programs that promise 3-4% returns are too risky for this sort of investment. Researching the parties that will be involved in your own alternative residency investment is essential, Menon concludes—safety is far more important than returns. There will always be some risk, but the only way to mitigate that risk is to choose providers with good track records. She also discusses the tax hike on Indian remittances to foreign countries, to begin July 1, concluding that for many families the tax may not make a huge difference but for others, getting their applications in before July 1 may be the better option.

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