Japan and Singapore Retain Top Two Spots in Henley Passport Index

Henley & Partners has released the latest results
of the Henley Passport Index.

Since its inception in 2006, travel freedom has increased dramatically.
In 2006, a citizen could travel to 58 destinations on
average without a visa from the host nation; 14 years later, this
number has almost doubled to 107.

The first ranking of the new
decade, published in January 2020, confirmed that Japan had the top-ranking passport, offering
its holders access to 191 destinations without requiring a visa in
advance. Japan’s passport continues to hold the top spot on
the Henley Passport Index as we enter the second quarter of 2020,
but the reality is that with so many stringent travel restrictions
being put in place around the world, relative passport strength
becomes temporarily meaningless.

Dr. Christian H. Kaelin, Chairman of Henley &
Partners and the inventor of the passport index concept, said, “A
Swiss citizen can, in theory, travel to 185 destinations around
the world without needing a visa in advance, but the last few
weeks have made it apparent that travel freedom is contingent on
factors that occasionally can be utterly beyond our control. This
is, of course, something that citizens of countries with weak
passports in the lower ranks of the index are all too familiar
with. As public health concerns and security rightfully take
precedence over all else now, even within the otherwise borderless
EU, this is an opportunity to reflect on what freedom of movement
and citizenship essentially mean for those of us who have perhaps
taken them for granted in the past.”

Commenting on the latest Henley Passport Index,
author and the Founder and Managing Partner of FutureMap, Dr. Parag Khanna, says the combined effect of the
COVID19 pandemic on public health, the global economy, and social
behavior could lead to much deeper shifts in our human geography
and future distribution around the world.

“This may seem ironic
given today’s widespread border closures and standstill in global
transportation, but as the curtain lifts, people will seek to move
from poorly governed and ill-prepared ‘red zones’ to ‘green zones’
or places with better medical care,” Dr. Parag Khanna said. “Alternatively, people may
relocate to places where involuntary quarantine, whenever it
strikes next, is less torturous. In the US, both domestic and
international migration were surging before the pandemic, with
Gen-Xers and millennials shifting to cheaper, second-tier cities
in the Sun Belt or abroad to Latin America and Asia in search of
an affordable life. Once quarantines lift and airline prices stand
at rock bottom, expect more people across the globe to gather
their belongings and buy one-way tickets to countries affordable
enough to start fresh.”

This is supported by emerging research and
analysis commissioned by Henley & Partners, which suggests that
despite freedom of movement currently being restricted as a
temporary measure, there is a risk that this will negatively
affect international mobility in the long run.

Political science
researchers Uğur Altundal and Ömer Zarpli of Syracuse University
and the University of Pittsburgh, respectively, note that public
health concerns have historically been used to justify restricting
mobility, but governments usually adopt travel restrictions
temporarily, in response to short-term health needs. Until now,
health security has not been a significant determinant or
requirement when negotiating visa waivers, but Altundal and Zarpli
warn that “increasing public health concerns due to the outbreak
of COVID19 may change this…the quality and level of health
security of a country could be a significant consideration for
visa waivers in future”. The unprecedented and overwhelming focus
on health security and pandemic preparedness we now see may change
the face of global mobility forever.

On the other hand, Prof. Simone Bertoli, Professor
of Economics at CERDI, Université Clermont Auvergne in France,
says that the necessity of international collaboration in fighting
the pandemic could ultimately reduce current barriers to
international mobility.

 “Humanity is confronted with a truly
global challenge against which no country — irrespective of its
level of income — can fully protect itself,” said Prof. Simone Bertoli.
“This pandemic could
therefore trigger renewed and more intense international
cooperation, something that has (so far) not happened with the
other main global challenge that the world is currently facing,
namely climate change.”

The chaos caused by the COVID19 pandemic has cast
further doubt on the timeline for the implementation of the UK’s
post-Brexit immigration system, according to Madeleine Sumption,
Director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.

The UK, currently in 7th place on the Henley Passport Index, with
citizens theoretically able to access 185 destinations without
acquiring a visa in advance, was set to end free movement with the
EU in January 2021. However, as Sumption says, “The UK can only
implement its new immigration system when the post-Brexit
‘transition period’ is over, and if this is extended to give
negotiators more time to discuss trade and other issues, we may
not be seeing the end of free movement with the EU quite yet.”

In the US, also in 7th place on the Henley
Passport Index, the impact of travel bans implemented at the
beginning of the year appear to have been compounded by the
pandemic, according to Greg Lindsay, Director of Applied Research
at NewCities.

“For the children of a rising global middle class
with more and more options, this pandemic may prove to be the
tipping point in terms of choosing educational destinations,” Greg
Lindsay said. “When
the world gradually recovers — with China, South Korea, and
Singapore already succeeding in slowing the outbreak through
effective quarantines — don’t be surprised if the best and
brightest take coronavirus responses into consideration when
deciding on their future options.”

Commenting on the ever-expanding growth and
popularity of the investment migration industry, Dr. Juerg
Steffen, CEO of Henley & Partners, said, “We believe that in the
post COVID19 environment, investment migration will take on a
dramatically enhanced importance for both individual investors and
sovereign states. Acquiring alternative residence or citizenship
will act as a hedge against the significant macro-economic
volatility that is predicted, creating even more sovereign and
societal value across the world.”

You can download the .pdf of the Henley Passport
Index Q2 2020


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