Turkey became the most popular destination for visa investing in 2020, both in number of applicants and value of investments, surpassing figures for historically popular migration investment programmes. 

According to research from Astons, a leading investment immigration firm, the number of applications for Turkish residency via investment rose by 325% to 13,325 in 2020 from the previous year. 

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‘Extraordinary’rise

In the same period, the estimated total value of residency investments into the country jumped by 323% to almost £2.6bn in 2020, overtaking top residency and citizenship by investment destinations, such as the US, evidence that Covid-19 restrictions and cheaper programmes have changed the landscape for visa investing.

Astons managing director Arthur Sarkisian says that one reason for the “extraordinary annual rise” is “simple affordability”. 

“With a minimum investment demand of a property purchase to the tune of around £194,000, Turkey is one of the cheapest residency by investment programmes currently on offer,” he says.

Figures compiled by Astons show that estimated minimum investments for citizenship or residency can range from £15,180 in Thailand to £705,150 in the US.

Mr Sarkisian told fDi that Astons was “surprised” that Turkey topped its list of residency investment programmes by both volume and capital inflows, adding that applicants came from a range of countries, including the US, the UK and nearer countries such as the UAE, Syria and Iraq. 

He adds that the country provides a “great base for foreign investors” who want access to both the Eurasian market and, potentially in the near future, the Schengen Area. 

Meanwhile, some of the historically popular residency by investment destinations have seen their applications and total investments slip in 2020.

Total residency investment into the US and Australia, two countries with the most expensive residency programmes, fell by 30.3% and 39.8% respectively, according to Astons. 

The US’s estimated total investment stood at roughly £2.6bn in 2019. Now, having fallen to £1.8bn, it has been eclipsed by Turkey.

Impact of Covid-19

Other popular residency investment destinations, such as Greece and Spain, have seen notable declines in applications and total investments since the beginning of the pandemic.

Greece’s total residency investment plummeted from £768.5m in 2019 to £89.6m in 2020, a fall of 88%, while Spain’s drop from £622.9m total investments in 2019 to £375.9m in 2020 represents a decrease of 39.7%.

In Greece’s case, this was “purely down to problems posed by the pandemic”, Mr Sarkisian says, as Greece’s ‘Golden Visa’ programme requires applicants to enter the country within 12 months of their application, which was made impossible by Covid-19 regulations. 

Nonetheless, as the world emerges from the pandemic, he expects higher numbers of applicants for both residency and citizenship by investments over the coming years, as countries capitalise on the remote working trend. 

“In my opinion, almost every country will [launch] remote work visas or residencies based on tax or disposable income or property investment,” he says.