Why Caribbean Citizenship by Investment has become the latest luxury trendFeature of the week
The Caribbean has long been considered a dream destination with thousands of tourists flocking to the region each year. However, it’s not just holidaymakers who are being welcomed to the archipelago of tropical islands – foreign investors are making it their permanent home by gaining citizenship through investment. Dual nationality in the Caribbean is quoted by Truly Belong magazine as bringing a person global citizenship and mobility,
This latest trend has been fuelled by a number of island nations embracing citizenship by investment (CBI) programmes as a method of boosting economic development and drawing entrepreneurs to their shores. Saint Lucia, the latest Caribbean nation to implement a CBI programme, joined Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, and Antigua and Barbuda in offering citizenship to investors in January 2016.
What is Citizenship by Investment?
Citizenship by Investment (CBI), also known as Economic Citizenship, has gained popularity in recent years as a means of acquiring a second citizenship. CBI involves gaining citizenship in a country by investing into their government fund or local pre-approved real estate. Countries offer various citizenship perks in return for an investment into the country, but not all programmes are the same. The application process and required size of investment varies with different destinations.
Caribbean CBI programmes are more affordable and efficient than those in other regions
One of the Caribbean’s biggest pull factors is that dual citizenship requires a smaller minimum investment than other regions. Dominica offers the world’s most affordable CBI programme for single applicants. A contribution of $100,000 to the Economic Diversification Fund (EDF) or alternatively an investment of $200,000 into designated real estate projects is required to gain citizenship.
Other Caribbean islands require higher fees than Dominica, though their minimum investment requirements are still very competitive as compared to those offered by countries in other regions of the world. For instance, to gain permanent residence in Quebec (one of Canada’s most well-known provinces), not only must you invest around CAD 800,000 interest-free for five years, you must also prove you have a net worth of more than CAD 1.6 million and pay a CAD 15,000 application processing fee. In comparison, Grenadian citizenship by investment requires a $200,000 minimum contribution to the National Transformation Fund, or an investment of $350,000 in pre-approved real estate. Saint Lucia implemented a similar CBI structure, although the programme is capped at 500 applications a year.
Although the numbers reported above refer to single applicants, dual citizenship can also extend to a successful applicant’s spouse, dependent children, and dependent parents or grandparents (with fees increasing with the number of total family members).
The process of gaining citizenship through investment is much faster in the Caribbean than elsewhere. Portugal, Singapore, and the USA all grant permanent residency to applicants who invest in companies or projects that create a minimum number of jobs over a set period. These programmes make the process uncertain and prolonged, because applicants have to wait to see a return on their investment, and there is also the risk that their investment never creates the required minimum number of jobs.
Furthermore, successful applicants only receive permanent residency, not citizenship – which they can apply for after many years. In comparison, Caribbean citizenship can be granted to qualified applicants in as little as 90 days from the day their application is submitted to the relevant government.
Caribbean citizenship allows easy access to other countries
Citizenship in the Caribbean offers several rewards: since the Caribbean islands with CBI schemes in place are Commonwealth nations, citizens get special privileges in the UK. Moreover, all the CBI nations have visa-free travel to at least 110 countries, including business hubs such as the United Kingdom, Singapore, Hong Kong and Switzerland. Each of them also has visa-free travel to the Schengen Area, which includes vast parts of Europe.
The Caribbean CBI nations are also all members of CARICOM, an organisation of 15 Caribbean nations and dependencies. Having citizenship in one of the CARICOM member countries enables you to live in any of the other member states.
The Caribbean boasts several investment opportunities
The Caribbean is an attractive region for foreign investors because of its well-earned reputation as a tourist paradise. From 2010 to 2014, Caribbean tourism increased 21% in revenue and is expected to double in the next ten years.
Other industries are fuelling economic growth, such as organic agriculture. By the year 2050, the world will need to produce enough food to feed more than 2 billion additional people and agricultural production will need to increase by 50-70%. The Caribbean has fertile land, favourable growing conditions, and solid diplomatic relations with Europe and the Americas – so trade links are very strong. Increased agricultural trade is boosting the Caribbean economy, while its exports are likely to alleviate growing demand for food.
Another industry emerging in the region is green energy. In 2015, Costa Rica became the first country to be run entirely by renewable energy and there is potential for many of the Caribbean islands to follow the Latin American nation’s example. The island of Nevis, for example, is expected to be fully running on clean, geothermal energy in a handful of years. In fact, the region as a whole is the ideal location for renewable energy development. Petroleum resources are scarce, while renewable resources such as solar, wind, and geothermal energy are plentiful.
Citizenship by Investment: Transparency
CBI Programmes are only appealing where they are thoroughly supported by the government and monitored, because people want to make sure that their application will not be suspended halfway through the process. In this regard, the Caribbean has taken significant steps in the past few years.
The twin-island nation of St Kitts and Nevis, for example, recently implemented all the recommendations made by a world-famous risk management firm to ensure that systems are in place to only enable honest and law-abiding candidates to be accepted for citizenship. Each Caribbean Programme requires applicants to pay due diligence fees, which are used to carry out checks on the backgrounds of the applicants and their family members. These checks are carried out by independent due diligence firms, who then submit their findings to the relevant CBI body for further review.
If you have the appetite for an investment that will bring you financial and personal rewards, the Caribbean CBI schemes should be your first port of anchor.
The editorial unit