New Delhi: India has improved its passport power for the year 2022, climbing six places to rank 84th compared to last year’s 90th position as it now has access 59 countries that don’t require a prior visa.
Oman is the latest destination Indian passport holders can now visit without obtaining a visa compared to 58 visa-free access destinations in Q4 2021. India has risen in the ranking by six places due to visa access changes higher up on the index which has created new ties or places now held jointly by other nations that rank above it.
When two countries holding two spots in the ranking become two countries holding one spot, the result is that everyone beneath them goes up in rank. In practical terms, for instance, nothing actually got better for Turkey in terms of its visa-free access but it did improve its ranking — it’s just a result of how the ranking powered by IATA data treats ties
Over 12.8 million passports were issued in 2019 by the Passport Issuing Authorities (PIA) in India and abroad, making India the third largest passport issuer globally after China and the United States.
According to historical data from the Henley Passport Index, which ranks all the world’s passports according to the number of destinations their holders can access without a prior visa and is based on exclusive data from the International Air Transport Association (IATA), an individual could, on average, visit 57 countries in 2006 visa-free. Today, that number has risen to 107, but this overall increase masks a growing disparity between countries in the global north and those in the global south, with nationals from countries such as Sweden and the US able to visit more than 180 destinations visa-free, while passport holders from Angola, Cameroon, and Laos can only enter about 50.
Japan and Singapore most powerful passports
The results show record-breaking levels of travel freedom for top-ranking nations Japan and Singapore. Without taking temporary Covid- related restrictions into account, passport holders of the two Asian nations can now enter 192 destinations around the world visa-free – 166 more than Afghanistan, which sits at the bottom of the index.
Covid-19 exacerbates inequality in global mobility
Germany and South Korea hold onto joint second spot on the latest ranking, with passport holders able to access 190 destinations visa-free, while Finland, Italy, Luxembourg, and Spain share 3rd place, with a score of 189. The US and the UK passports have regained some of their previous strength after falling all the way to 8th place in 2020 – the lowest spot held by either country in the index’s 17-year history. Both countries now sit in 6th place, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 186.
The UAE continues its upward trajectory on the Henley Passport Index, having recently reinstated in practical terms its landmark US-brokered agreement with Israel, suspended throughout most of the pandemic. It now sits at 15th place on the ranking, the highest spot yet achieved for the Arab nation throughout the index’s history, with a visa-free/visa-on-arrival score of 175.
“The borders within which we happen to be born, and the documents we are entitled to hold, are no less arbitrary than our skin color. Wealthier states need to encourage positive inward migration to help redistribute and rebalance human and material resources worldwide,” said Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley & Partners.
Commenting on the pandemic’s effect on wider geopolitical trends in migration and mobility, Misha Glenny, award-winning journalist and associate professor at Columbia University’s Harriman Institute, said “the very presence of Omicron points to a major geopolitical failure. Had the US, Britain, and the EU diverted more money and vaccines to southern Africa, the chances of such a robust new strain emerging would have been much lower. Until we share the distribution of vaccines more equitably, new mutations will have the ability to send us all back to square one.”
Against this backdrop of increasing disparity, high-net-worth investors and entrepreneurs are looking to create portfolios of complementary citizenship and residence options in multiple jurisdictions through investment migration programs, to access health security and optionality in terms of where they and their families can comfortably live, conduct business, study, and invest. So naturally, countries that offer residence and citizenship by investment programs continue to perform strongly on the Henley Passport Index, with Dominica’s recent visa waiver agreement as a prime example of that success. The chaos of the pandemic has emphasized the appeal of investment migration programs for the states that are able to offer them, as well as for international investors.
“Many investment migration programs include the option to invest in real estate in return for residence or citizenship. Investors acquire a sizeable asset with the potential to increase in value as well as the ability to live in a new country and move around more freely — something that can be extremely valuable in times of turbulence. During the current economic crisis, countries with established programs have benefited from the alternative revenue stream. Clearly, governments that adjust their policies to allow foreign investors to settle with ease will win the competitive race for both revenue and talent in 2022,” said Dr. Juerg Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners.
Have Indians opted for this golden visa?
There was a 21% increase in Indian nationals acquiring investment migration programs through Henley & Partners between 2019 and 2020. This leapt up significantly in 2021 with an increase of just over 200% in the number of Indian nationals who opted for golden visa’s in comparison with 2020. When compared to pre-pandemic sales figures, the increase between 2019 and 2021 would be 264 percent.
Source : Times of india