RIF Trust Outlines How Indian Millionaires Travel Freely During COVID


India is the sixth-largest economy globally and is expected to conclude 2021 with a GDP of USD 3 trillion. From USD 321 billion in 1990 to USD 2.9 trillion in 2019, India has repeatedly earned its title as the world’s fastest-growing economy.

According to Hurun India Wealth Report 2020, there are 412,000 millionaires in India. This figure is expected to grow by 63% over the next five years, as per the India Times.

Although India has cultivated outstanding growth and economic achievements, the country has an exodus of millionaires. Its large area and highly dense population have remarkably affected the pace of development in education, health, and public infrastructure, leading many Indians to seek better living circumstances in other countries.

According to a recent report published by Global Wealth Migration Review, more than 7,000 millionaires, around 2% of India’s total high-net-worth individuals, have left India in 2019 alone. These figures indicate how Residency by Investment has recently gained momentum as a popular Plan B solution to ensure global mobility for the Indian millionaires and their families during travel restrictions and for the future.


The higher education system in India is ranked 26th globally and is well-known for its high-quality education in engineering and technology. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, in 2018-2019, the number of Indian students who chose to study in Britain surged by 42%, according to the immigration statistics released by the UK home office. This data reveals a rapidly growing trend among Indians to complete their higher education in the UK, and other developed countries, to be a more attractive candidate to international companies hiring in the UK, EU, the USA, and Canada. This factor has led many HNWIs in India to seek out Residency by Investment solutions for their children to ease and facilitate their goal of completing a university degree and working in the UK or Europe.


In health services, India is ranked 11th in the world. Yet, the recent rampant numbers of confirmed COVID cases have put its healthcare systems under unprecedented pressure leading many to consider alternative healthcare providers abroad. Residency by Investment ensures many Indians have the right and ability to seek healthcare outside of India, particularly during health crises.

Travel Flexibility

India has more than 41,000 startups and is emerging as a new hub for tech companies and international manufacturers. However, the country is racing to elevate its infrastructure, legislative systems, and competitiveness for business. In the meantime, entrepreneurs are seeking new sources for fresh investment and capital to sustain the growth of their companies.

Whether it’s to participate in international events and conferences or establish a business base internationally, these activities require a high level of global mobility. With only 58 visa-free countries, the Indian passport does not allow individuals to travel freely as they are constantly applying or waiting for travel visas. With visa-free access to the 26 EU Schengen countries, an EU “Golden Visa” via Residency by Investment allows Indians greater freedoms to travel and do business in Europe.

Portugal Golden Visa

Portugal is RIF Trust’s top recommendation for clients looking to migrate to Europe. The Portugal Residency by Investment programme often referred to as a “Golden Visa”, has become one of the world’s most popular options with a flexible path to permanent residence

Portugal Golden Visa holders can obtain permanent residence or citizenship after five years of legal residence and compliance with prevailing requirements.

Portugal is a beautiful European country and provides its residents with a high-quality lifestyle, fantastic local cuisine, rich culture, mild climate with 300 days of sunshine, and a high level of security. Portugal is also a family-friendly nation, and the Golden Visa application extends to include the spouse, children, parents and siblings, providing an excellent option for families seeking a European base. The average monthly cost of living for a couple starts from EUR 2,200.

New residents wishing to stay for longer periods and live in Portugal have access to a Non-Habitual Residents (NHR) tax regime, which may be more beneficial. Once NHR tax status is obtained, income derived from a foreign source related to employment income, pension income and business and professional income can be subject to tax exemptions. However, any income derived from a Portuguese source will be subject to income tax at a flat rate of 20%, though some surcharges may apply. Furthermore, Portugal does not apply a wealth, gift, or inheritance tax.

The Portugal Golden Visa grants its holders visa-free access to the EU’s 26 Schengen countries and the right to live, work, and study in Portugal. Most applicants choose the real estate option, which consists of three categories. The lowest has a minimum value of EUR 280,000 for properties older than 30 years and located in a low-density area. The next option starts from EUR 350,000 in properties older than 30 years or in an area of urban regeneration. Finally, the most flexible option is with properties with a minimum value of EUR 500,000, which can be purchased anywhere in the country, including major cities like Lisbon, Porto, and The Algarve. However, this option will only be available until December 31st, 2021.

The residence permit can be obtained within six to eight months and requires a minimal physical presence each year of seven days in the first year and no less than 14 days in each subsequent two-year period.


RIF Trust’s alternative recommendation for individuals and families looking for European residency is the Malta Permanent Residence Programme (MPRP). Launched in 2021, the MPRP offers foreign nationals the opportunity to acquire Maltese permanent residency by investing in Malta. A robust legal framework regulates the programme and allows the main applicant to include their spouse, children, parents, and grandparents in their application and gives the opportunity to live in Malta indefinitely. The residency permit also allows the applicants the right to travel within the 26 EU Schengen Area countries without a visa.

Malta now has one of the fastest-growing economies and the top GDP growth rates in the EU. Additionally, Malta boasts some of the world’s leading medical services and facilities, with over 60% of its population already vaccinated against COVID-19. Malta’s official language is English and offers several high-quality educational opportunities for children.

Individuals considered a resident of Malta but not domiciled only pay tax on income earned within or remitted to Malta. If individuals spend more than 183 days per annum in Malta or make the country their primary place of residence, they are taxed on their worldwide income with a personal tax rate of up to 35%. The government does not levy estate or gift taxes but does collect a capital gains tax on various assets, and the standard VAT in Malta is set at 18%. While the corporate tax rate is 35%, certain exemptions do exist for non-resident companies.

Malta has very high due diligence standards ensuring only the most reputable applicants are approved. To qualify for the MPRP, applicants must meet several criteria. The primary applicant must pay a government application fee of €68,000 if purchasing a property in Malta or €98,000 if renting a property in Malta and both options require a donation of at least €2,000 to a philanthropic organization or NGO. If the main applicant is selecting the property rental option the minimum annual rent is €10,000 in the southern region of Malta and Gozo or a minimum of €12,000 in the rest of the country. If the applicant is selecting the property purchase option, the minimum investment is €300,000 in the southern region of Malta and Gozo or a minimum of €350,000 in Malta’s central and northern regions.

The process to receive Malta Permanent Residence takes between four to six months. Once the application is submitted, and an initial €10,000 non-refundable fee has been paid, the Malta Permanent Residence Agency (MPRA) reviews the application. It conducts due diligence on the main applicant, and if approved, the final contributions must be paid, the property must be rented or purchased, and a donation to charity must also be made before the applicant receives their permanent residency card.

RIF Trust is one of the very few government-approved investment migration advisories in the Middle East and Africa for Residency and Citizenship by Investment programmes. With a client-focused approach, RIF Trust ensures you are provided with clear information about each programme and help you choose the best one based on your financial position, business and personal goals.

About RIF Trust:

Founded in the financial heart of Dubai, RIF Trust is a leading international residency and citizenship by investment advisory. In 2013, the company was born from the need to provide greater freedom to travel and to expand businesses abroad for High-Net-worth Individuals and their families. The name RIF Trust is inspired by the mountainous region of North Africa, a place known for its people with high moral standards and the desire to explore.

RIF Trust is a government-approved partner and an authorized agent of the world’s most powerful citizenship programmes including Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts & Nevis, St Lucia, Vanuatu, Portugal, Malta.

In 2018, RIF Trust merged with Latitude Limited to expand internationally to over 17 different countries, including Anguilla, Brazil, Canada, China, Cyprus, Germany, Lebanon, Malta, Montenegro, Morocco, Portugal, South Korea, UAE, UK and Vietnam.

RIF Trust employs over 80 industry professionals globally that provide clients with innovative programme solutions in the Caribbean, Europe, and North America, competitively priced services and local expertise with a global reach.