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One foot on shore: An analysis of global millionaires' demand for U.S. investor visas

British Journal of Sociology

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["The British Journal of Sociology, Volume 73, Issue 3, Page 554-570, June 2022. ", "\nAbstract\nEach year, around 10,000 foreigners obtain a U.S. residence visa after investing half a million dollars or more. Who are the millionaires that acquire these visas and what motivates them to leave their home countries? To answer this question, I analyzed an original data set that combines U.S. visa statistics with data on global millionaire populations. The analysis produced three key findings. First, demand for investor visas was led by millionaires from countries that ranked lower in the global hierarchy of citizenship value. Second, most of the visas were acquired by Chinese millionaires, who recorded the world's highest application rate. Third, when the quality of democracy in a country declined, visa applications surged. These findings suggest that investor visas are used by elites in less developed countries to hedge against the risks associated with authoritarian rule. Such elites perceive investor visas as a foothold in a stable and democratic country that can provide an insurance policy or exit option.\n"]