The Caribbean Citizenship by Investment programmes offer a variety of highly attractive and flexible options for attaining a second citizenship.
Why seek second citizenship?
Having a second citizenship has always given added value to one’s personal and business undertakings. However, over the years, in correlation with international developments, this value has been significantly magnified. The most notable of such developments has undeniably been the surge in globalisation. One business can now span around the whole world, pushing demands for travel for those having vested interests in it. Investors do not want to be chained down to one place when they can profit from so many opportunities beyond it. Persisting political instability in troubled regions has also played a part in intensifying appreciation for holding a second citizenship in a stable and peaceful country.
Methods of attaining second citizenship
Citizenship can be obtained through one of various methods, namely by birth/descent, naturalisation, marriage, adoption, and citizenship by investment programmes. All require that an individual demonstrates a genuine link with the country issuing the citizenship. Citizenship by investment programmes have made second citizenships more attainable through a reliable and legitimate process which calls for a specified investment within a country, in exchange for the granting of citizenship. These investment programmes have now been introduced by a number of countries worldwide. Three European countries- Malta, Cyprus and Austria- and five Caribbean ones- St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, and Dominica- currently have these investments programmes on offer. An interested applicant may choose to invest in real estate, government bonds, deposits, shares, funds for specific projects, job creation, or a new company, depending on the options available for the chosen programme.
Benefits of Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programmes
The first citizenship by investment programme was in fact pioneered in St. Kitts and Nevis in 1984 to stimulate growth and attract investment into the country. The Caribbean has now become a prime hub for citizenship by investment programmes, five of which are now available within the region and offer considerable incentive to motivate investors.
All of the Caribbean citizenship by investment programmes grant increased global mobility to new citizens, with visa-travel destinations ranging from 127 (Dominica Citizenship by Investment programme) to 141 countries (St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment programme)- including the Schengen area. Attaining citizenship through one of these programmes could therefore save precious time and money as an individual would not need to go through a lengthy and tiresome procedure to gain a visa for previously restricted destinations. For some people, valuable business deals may depend on quick travel, while others desire facilitated mobility internationally simply for personal leisure. For either scenario, the Caribbean citizenship by investment programmes all present viable solutions.
A second citizenship in the Caribbean also serves as a pragmatic way of managing or maximising wealth through advantageous tax systems. To mention a few examples, new citizens of Antigua and Barbuda are exempt from taxation on foreign income, wealth, inheritance, gifts, or capital gains; in Dominica they would be exempt from tax on wealth, inheritance, and capital gains; and in St. Kitts and Nevis tax exemption is allowed on worldwide income, tax, and inheritance.
Greater peace of mind and personal security can also be guaranteed by obtaining a second citizenship in one of these five Caribbean countries. In times of political or economic instability- civil wars, terrorism, economic crises- or even environmental catastrophes, a peaceful and secluded island can serve as an ideal safe haven. Even in times of stability, it is reassuring to know that a secure backup plan can be counted on should anything manifest itself.
The Caribbean programmes have a comparative advantage over their European counterparts, namely when it comes to the process of attaining citizenship, particularly regarding investment requirements and the time to attaining citizenship.
Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programmes Requirements
All Caribbean citizenship by investment programmes require the main applicant to be at least 18 years of age for any of the programmes. Some of the similarities include criteria demanding that applicants have a clean criminal record, and be of good character and good health. The programmes then have different requirements regarding who qualifies as an eligible dependent and under what specific age range. Moreover, not all programmes accept applicants of any nationality; St Kitts and Nevis do not accept applicants from Iran and Afghanistan, and so they are not considered as eligible for their Citizenship by Investment Programme.
The Caribbean by investment programmes have a sizable draw especially because of their relatively low investment thresholds. The main requirements include real estate investment, contribution to government funds, or business investment. When investing in Dominica, for instance, an applicant may choose to make either a non-refundable contribution to the Economic Diversification Fund- ranging from US$100,000 for a single applicant to US$200,000 for a family application including spouse and two children- or, minimum investment of US$ 200,000 in real estate which must be kept for a minimum of 3 years. Antigua citizenship by investment has even lower thresholds, with one of them being a minimum donation of US$100,000 to Antigua’s National Development Fund (NDF) for a single applicant or a family of 4 or less. The Saint Lucia citizenship by investment programme then gives further flexibility by offering numerous investment options: a non-refundable contribution of US$100,000 to the St Lucia’s National Economic Fund; a minimum of US$ 300,000 in real estate which must be kept for a minimum of 5 years; US$ 500,000 in government bonds which must also be kept for 5 years; or US$ 3.5million in an approved enterprise project.
Time to Caribbean Citizenship through Investment Programmes
Gaining a second citizenship by investment through a Caribbean citizenship programme as opposed to a European citizenship by investment programme has a particular lure for those who are pressed on time or wish for the process to be as expeditious as possible. For four out of the five countries- Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, and St. Kitts and Nevis- the processing time for an application is minimal, being that of three months, after which in-principle approval is issued and naturalisation granted. The process for the St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship programme is still a swift one with the application process taking up between four to six months.