Early View Article - Citizenship as Sovereign Wealth: Re‐thinking Investor Immigration

Image credit: Baigal Byamba via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Selling membership into society has taken on new life with the recent proliferation globally of Immigrant Investor Programs (IIPs). IIPs involve the sale of national membership privileges to wealthy foreigners, justified by their purported ability to stimulate economic development and attract engaged investor‐migrants. This paper surveys IIP objectives, activities and performance. We argue that IIP success may depend upon the coming‐together of expertise from two domains – migration policy and investment management, and that the latter may offer a means of legitimizing the former. Drawing some insights from the emerging community of Sovereign Development Funds (SDFs), we propose a set of principles that could guide the emergence of a new type of SDF: Immigrant Investment Funds (IIFs).

Policy Implications

  • ‘Destination appeal’ is an important form of sovereign wealth that can be converted into human and financial capital. But governments often manage this resource haphazardly.
  • Immigrant investor programs, to deliver on their policy objectives, should marry migration policy expertise with sovereign fund management expertise.
  • Well‐designed and well‐run Immigrant Investment Funds (IIFs) may demonstrate the value of investment‐based immigration to a skeptical public.
  • The principles of sound IIF management are already being developed—within the community of Sovereign Development Fund practitioners. These principles could be ported over to immigrant investor programs.

 

Image credit: Baigal Byamba via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)