Malta and Portugal top of the pops for expats

Malta and Portugal have topped the annual list of most desirable countries for migration in a prestigious survey for bench-marking and measuring the attractiveness of investment migration programmes, carried out by a UK citizenship consultancy.

Malta was deemed number one among international jurisdictions when it comes to citizenship-by-investment programmes, essentially schemes that allow one to acquire citizenship in another jurisdiction in return for a minimum investment.

And first in the list of countries offering residence-by-investment programmes was another European member state, offering permanent residency on consideration of a minimum investment – this time Portugal, with its ‘golden visa’ scheme.

The report is carried out by Henley & Partners, a UK-headquartered residence and citizenship planning consultancy that advises high net worth individuals and expatriates, with presence in 25 jurisdictions worldwide.

The report, Henley Partners Global Residence and Citizenship Programmes 2017–2018, is the third annual publication by the firm, and applies a number of metrics to assess countries’ migration programme by a range of objective and quantifiable external criteria.

Judged by a ‘distinguished panel of experts’

The countries were evaluated by a “distinguished panel of independent experts” — including immigration and citizenship lawyers, economists, country risk experts, academic researchers, and other specialists, said Henley & Partners group chairman Dr Christian Kälin, pictured above, an international immigration and citizenship law expert.

While Portugal came first among citizenship programmes, the eight countries assessed in the report were evaluated on their strengths in ten areas.

These were: reputation, quality of life, visa-free Access, processing time and quality of processing, compliance, financial requirements, residence requirements, relocation flexibility, physical visit requirements, and transparency.

The firm awarded a maximum of ten points in each category, meaning a total score out of 100 for each country.

The results of the citizenship programmes survey were as follows, in order of points scored and with Malta at the top:


  • Malta (81 points)
  • Cyprus (72 points)
  • Austria (63 points)
  • Antigua and Barbuda (61 points)
  • Grenada (60 points)
  • St Kitts and Nevis (59 points)
  • St Lucia
  • Dominica (51 points)

Portugal’s Golden Residence Permit Program was voted the world’s best residence-by-investment programme for the third year in a row, with a score of 79 out of 100.

In second place was Austria (with a score of 78) and Belgium in their place (with a score of 77). In 20th place, and bottom of the list with a score of 36, was Bulgaria’s residence programme.







Eugene Costello
Eugene Costello has been a journalist for some 20 years, and has written for a wide variety of UK and international newspapers and magazines.

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