Immigration in the year of COVID-19

I am not a Twitter person; I signed up three years ago out of curiosity and only used few times. I
prefer the traditional articles as I can’t conceive the core of an article concentrated in few words.
That was until I read Saint Lucia’s Primer Minister’s tweet, Allen M. Chastanet.

During the whole pandemic, I have seen press releases, studies, campaigns, but his Excellency
really “nailed” it, and I quote: “Always remember that being 6 Feet Apart is Better than being 6
Feet Under.” Period.

You wonder what does the COVID-19, and investment immigration all have in common. There is
no freedom of movement; except for the repatriation flights, most of the airlines have grounded
their fleet and laid off a massive amount of staff. One airline just announced it may disappear
from IATA’s list as the government funding has been cut off, paving the road for its bankruptcy,
while the tourism sector around the world has never faced such difficult times.

As I am writing this article, it has been announced (on Twitter, of course) that the US is moving
towards a temporary suspension of immigration into the United States, creating more panic
amongst the US Immigration attorneys.

Prior to COVID-19 I was planning on spending the Easter in Europe; I even had an Arbitration
hearing which was scheduled in such a way that I can observe the Orthodox Easter back home
with my family. Now, I am observing the lockdown from the UAE, which has been proven to be
quite a pioneer in combating the virus.

So, under the above circumstances, what is the future of a sector which up until COVID-19 was
seen as a chance to a better mobility?

Having a second passport it is not all about being able to travel with less hassle, the actual
circumstances are clearly proving the contrary: social distancing means stay at home, while stay
at home translates in do not travel.

Having a second passport or residency in a country part of an investment program means more
than that: tax breaks, higher education, possibility of doing business in a pristine jurisdiction,
universal healthcare, just to name a few.

The Citizenship by Investment Programs, regardless of their geographical location have been
stigmatized over the past years, but thanks to more stringent due diligence policies, such as
Malta’s MRVP, IMC’s constant involvement, our sector is becoming more reputable. Of course,
we still have Canada’s fantastic Express Entry and PNP’s programs, as well as US’s famous EB-5
& E-2 Treaty options which are still going strong despite the backlog, and according to several
US attorneys, were moving quite faster than expected.

So, what’s next? After this whole nightmare is over I foresee a “complete makeover” of the
Immigration sector. The governments with a longstanding tradition in this field will continue to
encourage the legal immigration as an influx of financial and human capital, while more
countries may be considering in adding either residency or citizenship programs meant to fuel
their bleeding economies.

Our industry still has plenty of uncharted territories to cover as long as the major players and by
this, I mean Governments, Government Advisors, Immigration Firms and Lawyers will work in
tandem for unified regulations meant to improve it even further.

Let us not forget the unfortunate loss of lives and at the same time thank every person regardless
of their nationality, color, religious beliefs or sexual orientation who has been struggling in
containing this virus, so we can all stay safe and not 6 Feet Under. Period.

Author: Eduard P. Nedelcu, ESQ, Partner, Al Safar & Partners Strategic Legal Solutions

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