Global mobility is not a newly-  introduced trend but it has significantly increased over the years. For decades, many successful Indian business stories involved global mobility, with the likes of Jamsetji Tata who travelled extensively in the 1900s while starting what is known today as the Tata  Empire.

The 1990s witnessed a series of major changes in the global sphere.  The technological shift created by the internet, together with a relatively global adoption for trade openness and financial liberalisation, supported by a reduction in transport and communication costs, favored an unprecedented increase in international mobility, both for individuals  and business activities.

In India, during the second half  of the 1990s and 2007, a series of  internationally orientated policies,  initiated by the government of P V  Narasimha Rao, enabled a strong  rise in Foreign Direct Investments  (FDI).

India became the world’s  leading business process outsourcing  (BPO) hub, with a significant  increase in companies establishing  partial or full production bases in  India, such as Wal-Mart, General  Motors, IBM, Toyota, Renault, Zara,  Mango, Benetton and many call  centres for service providers in  various sectors.

More recently, the  “Make in India” initiative launched  by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in  2014, encouraging foreign companies  to manufacture their products in  India and increase their investments,  enabled India to become the top  global destination for FDI in Greenfield  projects in 2015, with over US$  60 billion, beyond USA and China.

The success of several government  initiatives was also reflected in the  unemployment rate which reached  its all-time lowest record in 2014  with 3.41 percent.

There is a clear correlation between  the economic development  of the country and the relationships,  links and partnerships India managed  to build and the strategic  position it managed to acquire  during the global shift, thanks to its  resources, infrastructure and the  skilled and talented community of  leaders, entrepreneurs and workers.

India proved to be a major success  story in the field of long-term economic  growth.  These major changes had a positive  influence on  the Indian economy  but what about the  impact of the Indian  businesses internationally?  Has the  Indian community  been able to take  advantage of this  economic change on  a global scale?  In the early 2000s,  many Indian businessmen  sensed  the opportunities  brought by this  evolution, such  as Dhrew Shringi,  Manish Amin and Sabina Chopra  who co-founded Yatra.com in 2006,  when they identified the lack of online  travel booking websites for the  Indian market. It is today the second  largest online travel website in India.

That same year another major event  transformed the approach to global  mobility, when St Kitts & Nevis revamped  its citizenship program and  opened its borders to new investors.

It was the starting point of a new  approach towards the investment  migration industry, making it more  accessible to successful and talented  individuals from limited visa-free  access countries to enjoy more  freedom of movement while supporting  the economy of the sponsoring  country.

Today’s companies are created  globally from the moment they  enter into business; operations are  being managed remotely, talents  are acquired across the globe and  investors are  secured wherever  they are located.

In this context,  missing business  opportunities  or being overly  taxed for going  global because  of administrative  issues could  result in serious  financial losses.

This ongoing  and increasing  situation is faced  by many individuals  around the world, especially  in the US where a steady stream  of Americans has renounced their  citizenship since the implementation  of stricter tax rules, as the country  imposes taxes on its citizens based  on citizenship and not residency.

In contrast with the global mobility movement in recent years, more  and more countries have decided  to tighten their borders and paths  to immigration, leaving immense  disparities in freedom of travel  between citizens of different countries.  Among the least advantaged  ones feature countries like China  with visa-free access to 78 countries  and India with access to only  59 countries as opposed to more  privileged countries like Germany  with access to 188 countries (numbers  as at 2018).

In an era where  globalisation has never been this  significant, it considerably restricts  the mobility perspectives of Indian  citizens and limits their opportunities  for investments, business partnerships  and tax efficiency.

Although  Indian Entrepreneurs have made  their mark globally and managed  to establish successful companies,  some barriers  are still obstructing  their global  expansion. Unlike  US citizens, the  Indian community  is not looking for  ways to cut down  their taxes but  rather to upgrade  their passports  and increase  the number of  countries they  can access and  do business with.

This is something  the successful  Indian-born businessman Robert  Viswanathan Chandran, founder  and former CEO of Chemoil Energy,  recognised at an early stage. He first  got his US citizenship in 1981 after  building his fortune from real estate  investments in California.

In 2005, he  decided to relinquish his citizenship  for a Singaporean passport, which  allowed him to live in Asia while  capitalising in the fastest-growing  shipping market at that time, to  further develop his company and  remove the tax on global income  he was getting as a US citizen. This  wise move brought him to the 14th  position of The Forbes Singapore’s  40 richest in 2007 with more than  $490 million Net Worth.

At GICG, we have helped hundreds  of individuals wanting to have  a base in the best jurisdiction suited  for them. Since 1996, we have developed  strong ties with both our global  clients and various governments  that we support in  the creation and  audits of citizenship  and residency  programs.

We have  been part of the  investment immigration  industry long  enough to understand  the importance  of tailor-made  solutions, answering  client needs depending  on their  business, as well as  family and personal  circumstances.

Over  the years, we have identified the  main areas of concerns for the Indian  community and believe that residency  programs such as the Malta  Residency and Visa Programme  (MRVP) offer strong benefits without  critical disruption.  Introduced in 2015 by virtue of the  Immigration Act (CAP. 217, through  L.N 288/2015, and amended by  L.N 189/2017), the MRVP entitles  government approved individuals  from outside the European Union  (EU) and the European Economic  Area (EEA) to a certificate allowing  the beneficiary and his/her registered  dependents the right to reside,  settle or stay indefinitely in Malta.

This certificate also allows all the  applicants to travel freely throughout  the EU, EEA and Switzerland. Admission  to this program is granted  after an investment of circa €330,000  depending on the applicant’s circumstances.  As physical relocation  is not an obligation, the residence  permit could considerably improve  the global business capacities of the  applicant.

For example, an Indian  Entrepreneur could establish a company  in Malta, serving clients based  in Germany, whilst travelling freely  to any of the EU/EEA countries for  business or personal purposes.  Alternatively, Indian citizens who  would like to take full advantage of  the strategic location Malta offers, as  Robert Viswanathan Chandran did  with Singapore, while being able to  work, live or study in any of the EU  countries and travel visa-free to over  160 countries (including the US and  Canada) should consider the Malta  Individual Investment Programme  (MIIP). Launched in 2014 (under  L.N 47/2014), it is the first citizenship-  by-investment program of its  kind to be endorsed by the European  Commission, thanks to its robust  due diligence processes, approving  only first-class and reputable applicants.

In order to qualify, the applicant  must fulfil the following three  criteria: a contribution to the Social  and Economic Fund of Malta, an  investment in a real estate property  and a financial instrument approved  by the government, for an approximate  total sum of €900,000 depending  on the individual’s circumstances.

This program delivers a passport  from one of the safest and most  prominent EU countries, opening  doors to the European market within  a timeframe of 12 months.  Over the years, Malta and India  have developed strong ties. Malta  has hosted many splendid Indian  weddings, the most extravagant of  which took place in 2017 with an  average expenditure of €2 million.

Several wedding planning agencies  have even decided to take  over this business segment by  only focusing on organising Indian  weddings in Malta. Additionally,  the Bollywood film industry  also developed a strong interest in  the small Mediterranean island since  several movies were shot in Malta  recently.

All those links between  the Maltese and  Indian culture reflect  the existing bonds  between the two  countries, which  are anticipated to  witness further development  in the  coming years.  As the Indian  community  expands phenomenally  all  over the world,  so does the  Indian culture.  Citizenship  solutions  available  are simply  a manner  of enhancing  the  travel and  business  abilities to  nationals of  countries  with less  mobility  power like  India but does  not devalue  the culture and  identity of those  individuals.

Understanding  this element  created a greater recognition  of the industry’s  benefits which  is illustrated by the strong global  increase in citizenship and residency  offers and demands for the past  20 years. At GICG, our in-house  lawyers and local agents strive to  develop personalised solutions for  every client, not only in Malta but in  all the prime jurisdictions offering  residency or citizenship programs  such as Cyprus, Greece, Montenegro  and The Caribbean.

Atef El Kadi is the Managing  Director of Global Information  Consulting Group (GICG), a multinational  firm and licensed agent  offering citizenship, residency and  investment solutions for clients  across the globe. Atef has been in  the investment migration industry  since 1996 and has an extensive  track record of supporting global  clients in their search for the  ideal investment solution for their  personal and business needs.

He  also assists many governments in  the creation and audit of citizenship  and residency programs. He started with the promotion of the  Québec immigration-by-investment  program and progressively  expanded its portfolio to other  successful programs in Dominica,  St Kitts & Nevis, Cyprus, Greece,  Montenegro and Malta.

Atef is  a regular speaker at renowned  industry events where he provides  his expertise, vision and analysis  of the actual  and future trends  of the market.
“An Indian Entrepreneur could establish a company in Malta, serving clients based in Germany, whilst travelling freely to any of the EU/EEA countries for business or personal purposes”

Interested in finding out more about Citizenship by investment for Global Indians? email [email protected]

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