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Citizenship in the Caribbean: the top 5 citizenship-by-investment programmes

Hurricane Irma, one of the strongest Atlantic storms in history, has 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 neighbors Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica and St. 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, an island country in the West Indies, is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The local tourism sector generates about 60% of the country’s GDP, and is its main driver of growth. Antigua of Barbuda nationals can enter 132 countries visa-free.

Property in Antigua and Barbuda
In H1 2016, 35% of the applicants for Antiguan nationality were Chinese, 5% were Bangladeshi, Lebanese and Morrocans and 3% were from Russia and the United States Photo: Bertl123 / Depositphotos

There are three ways to obtain Antiguan nationality by investment:

  • Investing $150,000 in the National Development Fund (NDF). This is the most popular route to citizenship. According to official statistics, in H1 2016, 80% of citizenship-by-investment applicants took part in this programme. For a family of five, the minimum investment is $150,000.
  • Investing $400,000 in a real estate project approved by the government. Applicants need to own the property for a minimum of 5 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 6 months.

Grenada

Grenada, known as “the island 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.

Property in Antigua and Barbuda
Investors do not need to be in Grenada to obtain Grenadian nationality Photo: PeterEtchells / Depositphotos

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 3 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.

Property in Dominica
Dominicans do not have to pay the wealth, gift, inheritance, foreign income and capital gain taxes Photo: dani3315 / Depositphotos

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.

Property in St. Kitts and Nevis
The lead time for applications for St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship can be reduced to 1.5-2 months at an extra cost Photo: sepavone / Depositphotos

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 5 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.

St. Lucia

St. 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.

Property in St. Lucia
Tourism generates 65% of St. Lucia’s GDP Photo: rjlerich / Depositphotos

St. Lucia’s citizenship-by-investment programme, introduced in 2016, is the newest among the 5 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 St. 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, Tranio

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