Premium Visa: Ken Poonoosamy, acting MD of the Economic Development Board answers our questions

Expat news
Published on 2021-01-20 at 12:21 by Estelle Bastien
The Premium Visa has raised more than a few questions since its launch amidst the COVID-19 crisis last year. In this interview, Ken Poonoosamy, the acting CEO of the Economic Development Board of Mauritius, tells us a little more about the visa and how it benefits foreigners wishing to live on the island.

What is the Premium Visa?

The purpose of the Premium Visa is to encourage non-Mauritian nationals of different profiles to settle there for a year with a renewal option. The visa is particularly interesting for tourists who wish to take advantage of the climate and COVID-free status of the island, retirees seeking to live in our secure environment and investors and professionals wishing to work remotely from a secure environment offering good quality of life.

The EDB has set up a promotion strategy on all available platforms and channels in order to promote this new visa and attract a large number of travelers to our COVID-free island. These actions are essential, but it is also necessary to have a common effort, in a coordinated manner with all stakeholders, because tourism services are very interdependent.

What are the conditions for obtaining this visa?

We have aimed to simplify the procedures as much as possible.

To qualify for the Premium Visa, interested visitors must provide a plan of their long-term stay with accommodation reservation, subscription to health insurance and the relevant financial means. and relevant travel and health insurance for the initial period of stay. They must also prove that they do not intend to enter the labor market in Mauritius and they will solely be receiving income from foreign sources. Their employer must be based outside the territory of Mauritius. 

The Premium Visa is issued free of charge, there is no application fee. It should be noted that all travelers must comply with the health protocols established by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

How is this visa an opportunity not-to-be-missed for expats wanting to settle here?

In the current situation, most travelers are looking for safer destinations. The main aim of this visa is to give more flexibility to travelers looking for longer stays. The Premium visa is ideal for retirees who would like to test the waters for possible long-term installation, professionals and freelancers wanting to work remotely or simply anyone wishing to explore the country. Tax returns play an important role in this regard. Premium Visa holders are exempt from taxes for any payment made with the credit card. 

Premium Visa holders are also eligible for Occupation Permits later if they wish to work, invest or settle for long-term retirement in Mauritius. People staying in Mauritius on a tourist visa are also allowed to apply for a Premium Visa.

The Mauritian government has also set up different real estate schemes to allow the holder of the Premium Visa to invest legally. The foreign national can therefore acquire property under one of the designated programs, namely, the Integrated Resort Scheme (IRS), the Real Estate Scheme (RES), the Property Development Scheme (PDS) and the latest program, the Smart City Scheme (SCS), which gives the possibility of investing in a commercial project as well as a residential unit, or in land. It is also possible to buy an apartment located in a building of at least two floors.

Are children of expat parents on a Premium Visa allowed to attend school here in Mauritius?

Foreign couples can obviously enroll their children in a private school during their stay. The Mauritian education system is divided into three main stages: primary, secondary and higher education. Private establishments offer the French and English educational system. It should be noted that Mauritius hosts one of the largest networks of French schools in the region. Several options are therefore available.

Does a candidate show proof of monthly income or is proof that they are able to sustain themselves financially for the duration of their stay enough?

All applicants must ensure that they have sufficient funds to meet their needs for the entire duration of their stay, that is, a minimum amount of USD 1500 / EUR 1300 or equivalent monthly per person and EUR 400 / USD 500 for each dependent under the age of 24, depending on the prevailing exchange rate. This can be in the form of a bank statement to attest to the availability of funds in the individual's account.

Can someone on a Business Visa in Mauritius apply for a Premium Visa?

A foreigner, staying under a Business Visa in Mauritius, may submit his application for the Premium Visa provided that he does not receive any income in Mauritius.

How many applications have you received so far?

There is a strong and growing interest for the Premium Visa amongst foreign nationals, especially from European countries. To date, we have registered 287 requests. The volume of requests coming in for the first few months of 2021 is also interesting.

What do you say to those weary of settling in Mauritius because of its reputation as a tax haven?

The ranking of Mauritius on the EU's blacklist of high risk jurisdictions is a direct consequence of our inclusion on the FATF list. The government of Mauritius has made every effort to engage in discussions with the relevant EU authorities to inform them of the progress made by Mauritius so far.

The government is doing its best to implement the FATF action plan as soon as possible. A series of regulatory changes were passed through the Anti-Money Laundering (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act as well as the Finance (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act.

In addition, during the 2020/2021 Budget Speech, the announcement was made for the establishment of the Financial Crime Court and the Real Estate Agency Authority, which will bring more transparency and strengthen the anti-money laundering regime. These actions have already been implemented. The Real Estate Agent Authority Bill was voted in Parliament on August 18, 2020.