Despite travel restrictions and lockdowns across the world, as many as 5,000 high-net-worth Indians left the country after the pandemic struck the planet in 2020, available data show.
The number of out-migration of dollar millionaires stood at 7,000 a year earlier, 5,000 in 2018, and 7,000 in 2017 - when the world was open and without a pandemic, according to a Global Wealth Migration Review report.
Figures also reveal a surge of 61 per cent in Indian enquiries about citizenship-by-investment opportunities overseas following the coronavirus outbreak last year.
In 2019, India, South Africa, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nigeria - all emerging markets -- were the top five countries in terms of enquiries for investment migration, reported Henley and Partners, a global firm for residence and citizenship planning.
"The unexpected events of 2020 have simultaneously exacerbated push factors such as political and economic instability, and reprioritized pull factors, with stability, safety, and access to education and healthcare becoming issues of greater concern than ever," noted Dr Juerg Steffen, the CEO of Henley and Partners, in the report that found a 25 per cent increase globally in high-net-worth-individual enquiries about citizenship-by-investment options as opposed to residence-by-investment programs.
"Savvy investors," noted Dr Steffen, "have realized that diversification is as relevant to lifestyle planning as it is to wealth management. By spreading their assets across a range of markets and jurisdictions, over time they are more likely to harvest returns than if they hedge their bets on one country alone - even if that is a world-leading nation."
STUDENTS FLYING OUT
The number of Indian students going overseas for higher education halved in 2020 due to virus lockdowns, according to the minister's reply in parliament on March 24, 2021.
About 5.8 lakh of them went abroad in 2019 compared to 2.6 lakh who took the flight in 2020.
The trend reversed rapidly, apparently because of the backlog, this year.
As many 71,769 Indians went abroad for studies in the first two months of 2021 alone, Minister of State for External Affairs V Muraleedharan told the parliament in the same reply.
The students flying overseas for education last year comprised 14 per cent from Andhra Pradesh, 13 per cent from Punjab, and eleven per cent from Maharashtra.
SURGE IN STUDENT APPLICATIONS
The latest report by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) revealed that despite the pandemic, thirty per cent more Indians applied for universities and colleges in the United Kingdom, with 7,640 applications reported in 2019 and 9,930 in 2020.
In the last decade, Indian students applying for higher education in the UK has tripled, data show.
"The maximum number of students that seek education abroad is in the UK, followed by Canada. Then of late, the trend has been for Australia and New Zealand and some parts of Europe too," said Jyoti Mayal, an official at the Travel Agent Association of India.
LESS VISIT VISAS FOR INDIANS
The European Union and the US, however, issued less visit visas to Indians last year, data reveal.
The EU's uniform visas to Indians fell from 10.12 lakh in 2019 to 1.38 lakh in 2020 and the United States' non-immigrant visas came down from 9.85 lakh to 4.99 lakh in the same interval, according to the U.S. Department of State - Bureau of Consular Affairs and schengenvisainfo.
Meanwhile, the Indian passport held the 90th rank in the latest Henley & Partners Passport Index for Q3 2021. In other words, a holder of Indian passport could visit up to 58 countries visa-free, but regional restrictions because of Covid-19 limit the visits only 27 countries as of now.
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