USA Wealth Report 2023

Born in the USA: The Millionaire Migration of a Nation of Immigrants

Henley & Partners
Henley & Partners
Published in
4 min readMar 17


Mehdi Kadiri, Managing Partner and Head of North America at Henley & Partners.

Migrants have been flocking to the USA for centuries in search of their ‘American dreams’ of living and working in a free, democratic, and safe country — but change is in the air.

Looking back at America’s history, the nation benefitted greatly from the influx of migrants in its founding years. Their arduous work, entrepreneurship, and ingenuity laid some of the building blocks of the world’s wealthiest and most influential country. Many immigrants put down roots, established businesses, and raised families that today make up a significant part of America’s top tier of society.

Today, the USA accounts for 32% of total global wealth and 36% of the world’s millionaires (high-networth- individuals). The total private wealth held in the country currently amounts to USD 65.4 trillion, compared to its nearest rival China with just USD 21.7 trillion.

However, economists will tell you that an excellent barometer for the health of a country and its economy is to scrutinize what its millionaire class is up to, and in the USA, we can clearly see that a growing number of wealthy individuals are on the move. In particular, there is a notable internal ‘semigration’ of high-net-worth individuals currently underway. Cities such as Austin, Greenwich, Miami, and Scottsdale are gaining millionaires, while the big cities of Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City are losing them.

At the same time, affluent Americans are increasingly buying into investment migration programs. But what is motivating them to migrate away from the world’s largest private wealth hub and wealthiest cities to pursue new dreams and opportunities elsewhere?

A key driver behind this migration surge is the political polarization caused by partisan conflicts between Democrats and Republicans. Added to that, over the past decade other societal issues have bubbled to the surface including the widening wealth divide and mounting pressure to increase taxes on the rich, as well as rising crime rates and the polemical debate around gun control laws. Gender inequality and endemic racial discrimination issues have also taken center stage and fueled movements such as ‘me too’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’. Financial markets have suffered greatly as a result of the pandemic, unprecedented inflation, and the ongoing war in Ukraine that has impacted supply chains and energy prices. As a result, Americans are currently experiencing their own bleak ‘winter of discontent’.

This sense of disillusionment is leading many to pursue domicile diversification strategies that broaden their investment opportunities and safeguard their capital and interests. The most sought-after investment migration options they are considering in Europe are the Portugal Golden Residence Permit Program, which has received the highest number of applications by US citizens at Henley & Partners, followed by Malta’s Granting of Citizenship for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment Regulations (S.L. 188.05), which allows for the granting of citizenship by a certificate of naturalization to foreign individuals and their families who contribute to the country’s economic development.

Other programs that are gaining traction among American investors include the Spain Residence by Investment Program, the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program, the Greece Golden Visa Program, and the Italy Residence by Investment Program.

Yet regardless of the evident and increasing outflow of wealthy Americans abroad, it is unlikely that the USA — a tech and financial powerhouse — will ever entirely lose its luster as a coveted jurisdiction for entrepreneurs and investors from across the world.

Net migration is calculated as the difference between high-net-worth individuals moving to the USA versus those emigrating abroad. The Henley Private Wealth Migration Dashboard data reveals a notable drop in net inflows of millionaires to America in 2022 when the figure fell to just 1,500, when compared with the period from 2013 to 2019 when net inflows of millionaires fluctuated between 6,400 to 10,800 annually.

Henley & Partners received the most enquiries from US citizens on record in 2022 (a 447% increase from 2019) when, for the first time, Americans ranked highest of all nationalities. This growing demand from Americans for mobility and risk mitigation solutions is in line with the forecast surge in global millionaire migration that we anticipate over the next 12 months. It is projected that 2023 will be a record-breaking year, with 125,000 millionaires migrating internationally — practically doubling in number the 64,000 high-net-worth individuals who migrated in 2015.

As we watch the US millionaire migration phenomenon unfold, it will be interesting to see the variations in the economies and societies where these high-net-worth individuals relocate both to and from. The next generation of migrant families in the USA may well now choose to emigrate back to their ancestors’ countries of origin if given enough reason to leave home, and enough incentive to invest in new domiciles of their choice.

This essay was first published in the USA Wealth Report. You can download the full report here.