No Brexit risk for global rich says citizenship expert Chris Kalin

Henley chairman Christian Kalin says UK’s future with EU will do little to curb right to settlement for those seeking to buy an EU passport

Christian Kalin
Christian Kalin

Are the new citizens who acquired the Maltese passport for access to the Schengen zone and the United Kingdom about to get less bang for their €650,000?

Fear not, says Christian Kalin, the brains behind the ‘citizenship-by-investment’ scheme promoted by Henley & Partners, and which Malta adopted and renamed as the Individual Investor Programme. There’s little to suggest that holders of any EU passport will find it problematic to obtain access to the UK.

London has been a draw for ‘non-doms’ – a tax status for those living in the UK but whose father or grandfather was resident in another country when they were born, allowing them to avoid paying tax on money earned outside the UK. Supporters of the tax status, introduced back in 1799 for colonial traders, say it keeps capital and ‘talent’ inside the British capital.

But citizenship specialist Christian Kalin predicts that with Brexit negotiations soon to take place with the European Council, little might change for the free movement of labour in a future association agreement with the EU.

“The UK will now simply need to decide how much it wants to separate itself from the EU, which is unlikely to restrict significantly access to the EU for UK citizens,” Kalin says, listing as an example the European Economic Area (EEA) countries – Liechtenstein, Norway and Iceland – which still get the free right of settlement, or Switzerland – his home nation – which is part of the European Free Trade Agreement but not an EEA member. “It has opted for bilateral agreements with the EU which give its citizens the same rights of settlement throughout the EU.”

EU citizenship was introduced by the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 and affords rights such as the right to free movement, settlement and employment across the EU.

“It is foreseeable that the UK will end up under an EEA-type of arrangement or acquire a status similar to Switzerland’s. In this case, a form of free right of movement and settlement would likely remain, in particular for entrepreneurs, investors and financially independent people,” Kalin says, suggesting a return for the UK to its pre-EU status, when it was a founder member of the EFTA.

Kalin says there is nothing much to worry about for those who acquired or are looking to acquire Maltese citizenship.

“In the unlikely event that the right of settlement vis-à-vis the UK is terminated with Brexit, this would damage the value of British citizenship far more than that of European citizenship,” Kalin says, warning that the UK would potentially lose free access to 27 countries.

“We have no doubt that the UK will find some form of association with the EU which will, at least for financially independent citizens, continue to provide access to settle in the UK.

“Brexit will of course not impair visa free travel between the UK and the EU countries, and also have no impact on the visa policy of either the UK or the EU as this has always remained separate with the UK setting its own short-term visa policy.”

Those who seek to reap rewards on corporate passporting by luring businesses from London to Malta, may have yet to wait for drastic moves.

“On the corporate and investment side alone, Malta is very attractive and remains an interesting possibility for multinationals. Brexit, however… I don’t think that changes much at all. Malta is still a very good EU base, as are of course other EU jurisdictions like Dublin, Luxembourg and Frankfurt,” Kalin says.

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