Rich Pakistanis ranked third in the world for making inquiries to migrate abroad last year, according to a report by Henley and Partners. High net worth individuals (HNWIs) from India topped the list of those seeking to migrate, followed by Americans and Pakistanis. Pakistan is among nations that experienced "significant wealth outflows" in 2019, according to Afrasia Bank. There has been a 25% increase in the number of HNWIs enquiring about citizenship-by-investment as opposed to residence-by-investment programs since the coronavirus was first reported nearly a year ago, indicating that wealthy international investors are considering a more permanent change.
|Pakistan Among Countries With Significant Wealth Outflow. Source: Afrasia Bank|
In 2019, the UAE initiated a new system for investment-based long-term residence visa called Iqama. It enables foreigners to live, work and study in the UAE without the need of a national sponsor and with 100% ownership of their business on the UAE’s mainland. These visas are issued for 5 or 10 years and will be renewed automatically.
Several countries in Europe and the Caribbean are offering residency visas or a second passport and citizenship. Popular destinations include New Zealand, the Caribbean Islands, Portugal, Malta, Spain, Cyprus and Greece. Requirements for investment-based citizenship vary from country to country but is usually about 10 years of continuous residency. Some countries, like Greece, offer citizenship after a shorter period of 7 years. Others have no stay requirement at all. European Union (EU) member nations like Cyprus, Greece and Malta offer EU passports.
Many rich Pakistanis are continuing to flock to the United Kingdom. Recent US FinCEN (Financial Crime Enforcement Network) files show that the United Kingdom (UK) is the biggest global center for money laundering. An earlier report issued by the British Crime Agency put Pakistan among the world's top sources of money laundering in the United Kingdom.
FinCEN leaks represent just the tip of an iceberg. The leaked 2,100 FinCEN files covering $2 trillion worth of transactions that ICIJ (International Consortium of Investigative Journalists) and Buzzfeed reporters got their hands on represent just a small sliver of the roughly 12 million SARs FinCEN has received since 2011. Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan has repeatedly raised the issue of the West's inaction in stopping the illicit flows of hard currencies from developing nations to the developed world. Money laundering and other financial crimes affect the economic roots of a nation like Pakistan and slow down its human and socioeconomic development.
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