THE RISE OF GLOBAL CITIZENSHIP Words Eugene Yiga
Talented and wealthy individuals are pursuing opportunities to live, work and study around the world. Have you seen the news lately? It seems as though not a day goes by without us being bombarded with updates about the rise of nationalism around an increasingly fragile world. But as countries under strain increase borders and barriers with visa restrictions and travel bans, many people are trapped in challenging situations that are far from ideal. “Educated and financially independent people want to be part of a progressive global economy and not restricted by their citizenship of birth,” says Nigel Barnes, Managing Partner of Henley & Partners South Africa, a global leader in residence and citizenship planning. “And we’ve seen that corruption and civil war have brought out a new class of economic asylum seekers wanting to escape impossible domestic circumstances.”
GORDON INSTITUTE OF BUSINESS SCIENCE
And yet some people struggle to pursue better opportunities abroad. Barnes cites the example of someone from the Middle East or Central Africa having limited options when it comes to mobility. But while none of us has control over where we happen to be born, people who aren’t as lucky as others are taking matters into their own hands. “We’re born where we’re born and that becomes our citizenship,” he says. “Some people are more fortunate than others but, dependent upon their passport, certain individuals born in certain countries have a ceiling of opportunity in terms of how that particular citizenship might work for them in areas like travelling and business. All of these key components are making talented and wealthy individuals look at their options and their situation.”
THE QUALITY OF NATIONALITIES WORLDWIDE As a business, Henley & Partners helps individuals and families look at the options that exist around the world that can allow them to obtain another citizenship or residency and therefore take away the ceiling of opportunity. That assistance works in different ways: talking to clients in one-on-one consultations, running global citizenship seminars all around the world, and developing publications like the Quality of Nationality Index.
The ranking is based on internal factors (economic strength, human development, peace and stability) as well as external ones (travel freedom and settlement freedom). Germany, as in most things, is ranked first in the latest edition, with over two dozen other European countries following before the list reaches the United States (ranked 29th). South Africa is ranked 87th, two positions below Kazakhstan. “We believe that the ability to invest into another jurisdiction and receive citizenship in return is a good idea,” Barnes says. “That’s why we’ve created and pioneered this business and this industry. Some don’t believe it’s a good idea but the figures will tell us – and the interest we’re receiving from people around the world will tell us – that it’s something people are focused on.”
VISA-FREE TRAVEL AND SETTLEMENT FREEDOM
In the last two decades, Henley & Partners has worked closely with governments around the world in building and reengineering its citizenship and residency programmes. Barnes believes that it’s this extensive analysis and due diligence that gives the business its edge. “It’s a big component and strong reason to work with us as a firm because we have that understanding,” he says. “And in terms of citizenship programmes that are available around the world, the European and Caribbean programmes are the ones that we believe have real credibility. They offer strong opportunities.” The Caribbean, where the focus has been on clients looking for a better travel document, has historically driven the citizenshipby-investment business. But the spotlight is shifting to Europe, whose citizens enjoy visa-free travel to all the prime business and lifestyle destinations around the world as well a