What Does the Qatar Crisis Mean for Foreign Nationals and Immigration?
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Qatar Crisis |
June 12, 2017
By now the world is well aware of what major news sources are calling “the biggest political crisis to hit the Middle East in years,” as described by CNN.
What is known about the situation is that ten nations have now indefinitely severed diplomatic ties with the state of Qatar to varying degrees. What began with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and Yemen has now extended to the Maldives, Mauritania, Mauritius, the eastern government of Libya, and Jordan, whose government has “downgraded” its diplomatic relations with Qatar and revoked Al Jazeera’s television license in Amman.
Qatar is a Middle Eastern nation with approximately 2.3 million people living and working within the country’s borders. Many of Qatar’s residents are foreign nationals from neighboring Gulf and Levant countries, with the highest concentration in the capital of Doha.
At present, changes in ties with Qatar cover a number of areas affecting mobility, diplomatic relations, and the status of foreign nationals residing in the country:
- Qatari diplomats have been told to vacate their stations within a specific time period.
- Citizens of Qatar have been given notice to vacate Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain within 14 days. Saudi Arabia has restricted its nationals from entering Qatar.
- Saudi Arabia’s land, maritime, and air routes have been cut off with Qatar, and the UAE has likewise blocked Qatari travel and shipping links by air and sea.
- Major Gulf airlines that include Gulf Air, Emirates, Etihad, and Fly Dubai have ceased flights in and out of Qatar’s capital, Doha. In response, Qatar has put a halt on flights to Saudi Arabia via Qatar Airways.
For the 2 million foreign nationals living, working, or conducting business in Qatar, the situation indeed presents a crisis. Qatar has become a prosperous Gulf country, with its overall GDP rising over the past several years due to exports in natural gas, oil, and expansion of technology industries. As a result, citizens from Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, Jordan, and neighboring countries have successfully entered into Qatar’s local and international markets.
With indefinite travel restrictions and blockades from key nations throughout the Middle East, entrepreneurs, investors, and businessmen and women on notice to leave Qatar will be forced to find alternative residency solutions for themselves and their family. While many can return to his or her country of origin, it may not be the practical route for those involved in Qatar’s local or international business sectors. So what does the Qatar crisis mean for foreign nationals and immigration?
Residency and Citizenship Solutions through Investment
Residency and Citizenship by Investment Programs are offered to entrepreneurs, investors, and business-minded men and women all over the world, including (but not limited to) North America, Europe, the Caribbean, and Asia. These programs aim to help foreign nationals obtain second citizenship or residency in their chosen country while contributing to its economy and development.
One of the main benefits of obtaining a second citizenship or residency abroad is greater travel freedom, and now more than ever, having a second passport or home is an invaluable commodity for Middle Eastern nationals facing increased travel restrictions due to regional turmoil.
Residency by Investment Opportunities: North America and Europe
To date, the most popular Residency by Investment programs are located in North America and Europe. In Canada, candidates have the options such as the popular Quebec Immigrant Investor Program (QIIP), which requires a refundable passive investment of CAD $800,000, or Provincial Nominee Programs that require minimum investments as low as CAD $ 150,000 and direct involvement in business-related ventures. Obtaining Canadian permanent residency (PR) grants a number of benefits including the right to quality healthcare and the opportunity live, work, or study anywhere in Canada.
In Europe, Residency by Investment Programs—also known as “Golden Visa” programs—have gained momentum with foreign investors tapping into real estate markets in Portugal, Spain, Cyprus, and Greece. Depending on your chosen location, investment amounts for European real estate can range from EUR 250,000 in Greece to EUR 350,000 in Portugal. In exchange for property purchase, investors and their immediate family are granted residency permits in the respective country, along with visa-free access to the European Union (EU) and Schengen region.
Citizenship by Investment Opportunities: The Caribbean
Sometimes securing a second residency isn’t what you’re looking for, and that’s okay. For Middle Eastern nationals seeking greater travel freedom, Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programs (CIPs) offer investors a number of opportunities to obtain a second citizenship and passport—and without physical residency requirements.
St. Lucia, for example, requires a minimum investment of USD $100,000 for single applicants, whereas Antigua and Barbuda and Grenada require an investment of USD $200,000 in government development funds.
All participating Caribbean Citizenship by Investment programs grant visa-free and visa-on-arrival access to more than 120 countries worldwide, including the UK and Schengen region. Unlike Residency by Investment programs, candidates are not required to physically reside in the country to maintain their second citizenship.
In light of the Qatar crisis, Middle Eastern foreign nationals are facing mounting travel and residency restrictions from leading Gulf states, and leaving many to resort to a “Plan B” for themselves and their family. For entrepreneurs, investors, and businesspeople, these restrictions can pose a problem for individuals who need to conduct business on local or international levels.
Now more than ever, obtaining a second residency or citizenship has become a priceless asset for Middle Easterners desiring greater freedoms and a better future. If you are a foreign national living and conducting business in Qatar, contact our office today to discuss second residency or citizenship planning with our team of qualified professionals.
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