Citizenship in the Caribbean: The five citizenship-by-investment programmes

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A review of citizenship-by-investment programmes in the Caribbean – Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia

By Yulia Kozhevnikova

Hurricanes Irma and Maria, two of the strongest Atlantic storms in history, caused massive destruction in the Caribbean. To support recovery efforts, Caribbean governments have already begun raising funds. In September, St Kitts and Nevis approved a new citizenship-by-investment programme. From 23 September 2017 to 31 March 2018, investors will be able to get citizenship by donating $150,000 to the Hurricane Relief Fund.

St Kitts and Nevis and its neighbours Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica and Saint Lucia offer citizenship for various forms of economic investment in property, business, bonds or public funds. Obtaining citizenship under these programmes takes only three months on average.

Caribbean citizenship-by-investment programmes share a number of common advantages:

  • Visa-free entry to many countries, including Western and Eastern Europe, the UK and Ireland
  • No permanent residence requirements
  • Permission for dual citizenship
  • Eligibility of the main applicant’s spouse, children and parents for nationality
  • Tax allowances and convenient business terms

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda, a twin-island country in the West Indies, is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The local tourism sector generates about 60 percent of the country’s GDP, and is its main driver of growth. Antigua of Barbuda nationals can enter 132 countries visa-free.

In H! 2016, 35 percent of the applicants for Antiguan nationality were Chinese, five percent were Bangladeshi, Lebanese and Morrocans and three percent were from Russia and the United States

There are three ways to obtain Antiguan citizenship by investment:

  • Investing $100,000 in the National Development Fund (NDF). This is the most popular route to citizenship. According to official statistics, in H1 2016, 80 percent of citizenship-by-investment applicants took part in this programme. For a family of four, the minimum investment is also $100,000.
  • Investing $400,000 in a real estate project approved by the government. Applicants need to own the property for a minimum of five years to retain Antiguan nationality.
  • Investing $1.5 million in a business project approved by the government. There is also an opportunity for collective investments from $5 million, provided that each investor participates with at least $400,000.

There are fees associated with each programme – $25,000 when investing in the NDF and $50,000 when investing in businesses or real estate. Another $15,000 has to be paid for the fifth and each subsequent family member.

Investors must visit the country to apply for citizenship. The nationals of most countries (including Russia) can visit Antigua and Barbuda visa-free for up to six months.

Grenada

Grenada, known as “the Isle of Spice”, is the world’s second-largest exporter of nutmeg. Thanks to its proximity to the equator, the temperature never falls below 23°C. The country has been actively developing its hospitality industry, gradually shifting its economy from agriculture to a service-oriented one.

Investors do not need to be in Grenada to obtaining Grenadian nationality

Grenada offers citizenship through investments in the following:

  • $200,000 in the National Transformation Fund (NTF) supporting the Grenadian economic development projects, particularly in tourism, agriculture and alternative energy.
  • $350,000 in development projects approved by the government – typically the construction of hotels, villas and holiday residential property. Applicants need to own the property for a minimum of three years to retain nationality.

Additional expenses include due diligence and application fees, totalling $8,000. Buyers have to pay a $50,000 stamp duty for property purchases.

Dominica

Dominica is a country located southward of Antigua and Barbuda and St Kitts and Nevis. It is considered one of the happiest countries in the world, and its tropical climate and amazing landscape annually attract thousands of international tourists. Dominican nationality entitles its holders to live and work on the island, and travel freely across 120 countries, including Singapore and Hong Kong.

Dominicans do not have to pay the wealth, gift, inheritance, foreign income and capital gain taxes

To obtain Dominican citizenship, it is necessary to invest:

  • $100,000 in a public fund that finances the construction and renovation of schools, sporting facilities, and hospitals. The amount increases to $175,000 for the main applicant and his/her spouse and to $200,000 for a family of four.
  • $200,000 in a property on a list of projects approved by the Dominican government.

Stamp duty for property investors is $25,000. To secure citizenship for family members, investors must pay larger stamp duty fees, ranging from $35,000 to $70,000, depending on the size of the family.

There are additional expenses for due diligence and application fees amounting to $9,950 (plus $5,000 per family member).

St Kitts and Nevis

St Kitts and Nevis comprise two islands located in the Eastern Caribbean. It is the smallest country by area and population in the Western Hemisphere. Its economy is driven by sugar exports, offshore banking services and tourism. The number of tourists has been growing dramatically in the recent years.

The lead time for applications for St Kitts and Nevis citizenship can be reduced to 1.5-2 months at an extra cost

St Kitts and Nevis’ programme is the longest-running citizenship-by-investment programme in the world. The country has been granting citizenship to investors for over 20 years. For this to happen, it is necessary to invest:

  • $250,000 in the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund (SIDF). This amount increases to $300,000 for a family of four.
  • $400,000 in a real estate project approved by the government (hotel, villa or condominium construction). Property can be sold after five years of ownership.
  • $150,000 in the Hurricane Relief Fund.

Additional due diligence fees and other expenses amount to $7,500 for the main applicant and $4,000 per family member over 16. There is a stamp duty of $50,000 for the main applicant and $25,000 for his/her spouse and children under 18.

Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia specialises in high-end tourism. Its luxurious spa-hotels, snow-white beaches, warm sunny climate and diving spots attract international visitors throughout the year.

Tourism generates 65 percent of Saint Lucia’s GDP

Saint Lucia’s citizenship-by-investment programme, introduced in 2016, is the newest among the five countries Applicants can choose from the following investment options:

  • $100,000 in the national economic fund for financing government projects. The amount increases to $165,000 for the main applicant and his/her spouse and $190,000 for a family of four. Another $25,000 has to be paid for each additional family member.
  • $300,000 in real estate for the construction of premium hotels and resorts, as well as high-end boutiques approved by the government.
  • $500,000 in public bonds. The amount increases to $550,000 for a family of four.
  • $3.5 million in a business project approved by the government. Most of these projects are restaurants, cruise liners, agricultural companies, pharmaceutical companies, research institutes and transport facilities contributing to the prosperity of Saint Lucia. There is also an opportunity for collective investments from $6 million, provided that every investor participates with at least $1 million.

Investors also pay for due diligence ($7,500 for the main applicant and $5,000 per family member) and are charged an application fee ($2,000 for the main applicant and $1,000 per family member). Property, bond and business investments require an extra $50,000 fee for the main applicant and $25,000 per family member under 18.

Yulia Kozhevnikova is a real estate expert at Tranio.com, an international overseas property broker with a network of 700 partners worldwide and a catalogue of more than 110,000 listings in 65 countries. The company publishes daily news, high quality analysis on foreign real estate, expert advice, and notes on laws and procedures related to buying and leasing properties abroad so that readers can make their property decisions with confidence.

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2 COMMENTS

  1. This article fails to explain that some of the countries listed have previously been on the FATF Blacklist, and are or were, at one time, tax havens, and that previous CBI applicant compliance programs in some jurisdictions were utter failures, allowing known criminals to obtain CBI passports. It also fails to warn prospective applicants that their citizenship could be subject to revocation, and that their participation could make them targets of law enforcement interest, in North America, or the European Union. The applicants should be made aware of these risks, and not just receive the positive components of CBI programs.

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