THE WORLD'S super-rich are now looking to buy citizenship and property in coronavirus safe havens over fears of a second wave.
Those with plenty of cash are now hoping to secure citizenship, visas and property in countries praised for their handling of the virus and low death tolls such as New Zealand and Thailand.
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One of the world's biggest residency advisory firm, Henley & Partners, said that it had seen 40% more engagement from clients between January and April, who were looking to escape to sunny beaches and remote locations should a second lockdown be bought into force.
After new UK government guidelines came into play, advising Brits against travel to Spain after originally giving holidaymakers the greenlight, many of the world's super-rich are looking for alternative lockdown options as the risk of a second wave becomes more imminent.
This means that the world's most wealthy would be able to enter their country of choice once citizenship is obtained and would most likely only need to follow quarantine rules on arrival.
These so-called citizen-by-investment programs, or CIPs, are currently a growing industry, as are residence-by-investment arrangements, also known as "golden visas."
But the buying citizenship comes with a hefty price tag as well as certain requirements that wealthy clients must meet, varying from country to country.
For example, you can acquire the right to live, work and study in New Zealand for roughly £1.5million or approximately £5.1million depending on the visa package you apply for.
The country has been praised for its swift handling of the virus with just 22 deaths and only 1,569 cases after introducing strict border controls and placing residents in full lockdown, only leaving home for food and medical appointments.
Just over £1million and a property purchase would get you a married couple citizenship in Malta.
The company also saw clients enquire about locations such as Thailand with just 58 recorded deaths and also Montenegro with a death toll of 64.
The Financial Times also reported that the worlds wealthy were looking to buy up private hideaways in the Caribbean and remote parts of the US and Europe.
Trayor Lesnock, the founder of Platinum Luxury Auctions, which is conducting the online sale of Mai Island, in Fiji, told the Times that the pandemic had led people to reassess their lives and pursue the things they had fantasised about but always held off from doing.
Pumpkin Island, an eco-retreat in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park that was put on the market with a price tag of nearly £14million, was described by its current owners as a “safe haven” from the pandemic.
Laureth Rumble, whose family owns Pumpkin Island said: "We’ve weathered the [coronavirus] storm well and people are looking for places where they will have space and where they don’t feel like they’re on top of someone else . . . I definitely think that’s an attraction."
'NOT A JUMP THE QUEUE SERVICE'
New inquiries jumped 49 percent in the first four months of this year, compared with the same period in 2019, according to the company.
Paddy Blewer, Director of Henley and Partners UK, told the Sun Online: "All clients, if they contacted us today would have to wait four or five months, up to six months, to gain citizenship.
"This is not a jump the queue type services but because of the extreme challenge of COVID our clients are looking for optionality.
"We have seen a significant jump in interest, our client engagement has risen by 40% between January and April. We see a lot of entrepreneurs and millionaires making six-figure investments.
"They are very wealthy people acquiring citizenships but the visa rules still apply.
"Many are looking for options in Europe but we have seen a significant rise in places such as Thailand, New Zeland and Australian residency and right to live.
"Also places such as Portugal, Greece, Malta and the Schengen zone.
"Since the beginning of the pandemic, our clients are beginning to think more about their assets and balancing their portfolio.
"If all their assets are in one place they think do I want to change my life, it's not just about a second wave.
"They may not be thinking about the next big pandemic in years to come, what is on the horizon.
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"COVID has had a similar effect on our clients as the 2008 financial crisis, similar effects on their portfolio, but this has a physical effect and matters more.
"Countries will allow those with citizenship to fly out but due to the pandemic, those quarantine rules will certainly still apply.
"No one has specifically asked for COVID specified properties but with the money that is often being spent, properties will be setup with everything requires such a private location."