"The earliest man was a hunter and gatherer who wandered from place to place in search of nourishment, and the process continued even after establishing residence. One could reasonably claim that mankind's entire history has been a history of migration", says Goran Rystand in an article titled Immigration History and the Future of International Migration.
"The global number of international migrants reached an estimated 272 million in 2019," according to UN's International Migration Stock report.
But what motivates people to migrate? Are people still looking for better employment opportunities, quality of life on a land away from home or have the deciding factors evolved?
According to researchers there are three factors which have been decisive in the course of long-distance migration during the last five centuries:
1) the changing geographic distribution of employment opportunities
2) demographic imbalances, alterations of regional differentials in natural increase
3) actions and policies of countries
An International Migration and Displacement Trends and Policies Report, indicated that more than 10 million people migrated permanently or temporarily to G20 countries in 2018, while a separate report indicated the presence of communities with a migration background in destination countries and favorable labor market conditions as decisive factors influencing immigration.
So it will be safe to say that:
· Ease of doing business
· Access to quality education
· Access to better healthcare
· Potential of securing a passport that has a higher ranking
.Are amongst the key drivers that motivate people to relocate.
But why do people opt for the individual destinations is highly based on individual circumstances and requirements. so let's go over why the most popular immigration destinations are as sought after as they are.
Rated as one of the finest places to live in by virtue of security and opportunities, Canada is the third-best country in the world according to the World Population Review, which ranks United States at eighth place on the same list. It is no surprise then that many from the global South have their eyes set on these two countries owing to better opportunities, better facilities, a better life.
A new Statistics report on Canada reveals that there was a total increase of 321,065 new immigrants in 2018. Eman Katem And Noah Turner explain that "by increasing Canada's immigration rate, the country aims to attract and retain overseas talent to support labor market shortages across the country".
The nation enjoys a reputation for its friendliness, overall quality of life, job opportunities, being family-friendly, free healthcare, tolerance, and open-mindedness. For the true romantics, the country also has Justin Trudeau as Prime Minister who has stolen hearts worldwide with his Bhangra dance moves, Yoga postures, and general charm. These are some key motivators that make Canada a sought-after destination when considering relocation. The Canadian immigration can be achieve through a host of different programs including the express entry for young professionals, the Foreign Worker Program for experienced professionals, several provincial and national investment programs and the most sought after Entrepreneur program The costs of the mentioned routes range between $50,000 and $180,000.
However, Canada has not taken any limelight off its neighbor and Pew Research Center indicates that 'More than 1 million immigrants arrive in the U.S. each year' and the country perceived to be the land of economic opportunities remains a leading choice for people to migrate to. Many people aspire to secure US citizenship which comes with a host of benefits like easy entry into other countries around the world. The US offers immigration through investment under its EB 5 programme with costs starting from $500,000
Typically, when people considered relocating it indicated an inclination towards specific countries like the UK, US, and Canada in the global North. With the advancement of technology, easier accessibility, and lucrative benefits and policies favoring immigration, a host of new countries around the world are also inspiring interest from investors and employment seekers. Amongst these locations. Malta, Greece, Portugal, Cyprus, islands situated in the Caribbean are some locations gaining immense popularity among people looking to migrate. What do these countries have to offer?
While countries like the UK, US, and Canada have been at the forefront of relocation from across the region a host of new countries are also inspiring interest from investors and employment seekers including Malta, Greece, Portugal, Cyprus, islands situated in the Caribbean. What do these countries, have to offer that the others don't?.. let's find out
These countries are rising to the requirements of modern times, redefining economic opportunities and growing quickly to become popular investment and migration destinations. In the next part we take a closer look at the rising stars on the global migration map and what is driving their popularity.
Malta, an island country located in the central Mediterranean Sea is a hub for tech innovators and entrepreneurs from around the world. Recently, Numbeo's independent study of European countries found Malta's healthcare system to be second only to top-rated France. The country offers various investment incentives to promote and foster foreign investment. Some of them include tax reduction and citizenship-by-investment schemes. It has well-established links with Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East and enjoys economic stability making it a preferred destination for relocation and investment. Individuals with minimum EUR 100,000 as annual income outside Malta or having minimum EUR 500,000 as capital are eligible for Malta Residence and Visa programs.
Greece is gaining popularity on the immigration and investment destination map besides being known for its artists, famous philosophers, and scientists. Its strategic proximity to both Africa and Asia makes it ideal for trade. Greece is one of the top travel destinations in the World and tourism has always been the country's main economic driver. It is estimated it will account for 22.7 per cent or almost one-fourth of the country's GDP by 2028, with investments in the sector set to rise by 5.5 per cent to 5.5 billion euros over the next decade according to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC). Compared to many other countries in the emerging markets world, Greece also enjoys a stable democratic system and strong ties to key economies in Europe. The combination of incredible history, culture, beautiful islands and beaches, great food, promising investment opportunities make it an ideal location for migration.
A minimum investment of 250,000-euro in property in Greece is the requirement to apply for Greece Golden Visa program. However, Vazir Group exclusively offers also an exclusive immigration Greece Golden Visa program in the GCC region and India for only 148,000-euro.
Portugal boasts stunning beaches, tons of annual sunshine and a palate -gripping cuisine. It is conveniently close to the US and South America, and the 4th safest country in the world - according to the Global Peace Index Report. Portugal does not require investors to have national partners and does not lay down any restrictions on the distribution of profits or dividends abroad. Also, it is now extremely easy to start a business (it can be done in less than an hour) and the government provides an online toolkit that has made life much simpler for businesses and citizens with the automation of an increasingly extensive range of operations. Reasons and scanty to discourage one from considering relocating to and investing in Portugal. To be eligible for Portugal Golden Visa program, the applicant has to invest minimum 500,000 euros in real estate or have minimum 350,000 euros in participation units of private equity funds.
Cyprus is one of the European countries with the lowest rates of corporate income tax. For that reason, several companies in the IT sector are based in the country. This EU member nation has also a great climate and is quite safe. Advanced infrastructure, a business-oriented environment, and a sophisticated legal system make it an ideal destination to explore property investment and new business opportunities as options for immigration to Cyprus. Also, having a second passport by investment in Cyprus guarantees free travel to 180 countries, free movement within the European Union and free healthcare and all that without the obligation of living there. Cyprus Citizenship by Investment Program is available to those who can make a minimum investment of 2.5M Euro., Vazir Group is introducing an exclusive immigration program for Cyprus for a fraction of that cost at 680,000 euros.
The Caribbean islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Granada and Dominica have powerful passports, and offer citizenship directly, rather than through temporary or permanent residence schemes. Their economies are open and well-connected to global markets. Tax structures are favorable, while the region's proximity to the US and Canada is also a plus. The islands offer second citizenships that are fast, relatively easy and accessible. It would be safe to say that the Caribbean islands is not just a cruise destination but a sound destination for investment and immigration. Citizenship by Investment Programs are offered by Saint Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, and Granada and Dominica starting at $125,000 for a single applicant.
Many countries are now becoming popular than ever before as the migration mindset is evolving and gaining momentum. While some still prefer the conventional approach to pursue new economic and employment opportunities, others are looking for less treaded, investment-friendly, and in some cases retirement-friendly, hotspots.
So if you are looking to migration or a second passport, do your diligence and research and you are sure to find something that fits your requirements and circumstances perfectly.
Vrinda Gupta is the managing partner at Vazir Group, a boutique immigration consultancy in Dubai. Views expressed are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.