Immigration has never been a problem for the rich. The Socialist Standard drew attention to this back in 2018 [Material World: Welcome if You’re Rich – worldsocialism.org/spgb]
Buying citizenship and residence rights is a global trend among the super-wealthy that looks set to stay. The EU and Malta are presently engaged in legal action over Malta's "golden passport" scheme that allows wealthy investors to buy Maltese – and therefore EU – citizenship, without having to live in the country.
Malta has raised €1.1 billion since 2013 by offering passports in exchange for investments, with most investors coming from the Gulf, Asia and Russia. Cyprus and Bulgaria have recently stopped offering similar schemes. Yet the only concession Malta has made is to suspend the scheme for Russian and Belarusian citizens following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
However, multiple countries around the world continue the practice. To acquire full Turkish citizenship for an applicant and family members, investors must make a minimum contribution to the country of $400,000, such as buying a house of equivalent value. Approximately 120 days later, they can expect to be the owner of a Turkish passport. For €200,000, non-Europeans can buy the right to live, work and study in Portugal and have visa-free travel in the Schengen area for up to five years, as long as they spend five days of each year in the country. After five years, residents have the right to apply for Portuguese citizenship. €6.5 billion has been invested in Portugal via residence visas since 2012.
There are no precise figures for how many individuals around the world make citizenship investments – or buy passports – each year. Estimates put the combined annual figure in the tens of thousands.
An estimated 110,000 high-net worth individuals bought the right to live abroad in 2019. In 2023, this figure is expected to reach 125,000, and could grow larger. Demand for second passports among wealthy Americans increased by 300 percent between 2019 and 2021. Some 15,000 Russians are expected to purchase the right to live abroad in 2022, plus spouses and family members who would be granted associated rights.