Antigua and Barbuda citizenship by investment program is one of the best known in the Caribbean. What are the changes the passport program had to undergo in 2017? How many passports have been issued in the course of the program? Which alternatives are there in the Caribbean to choose from? Today’s article will uncover all the details.
In 2017, Antigua and Barbuda citizenship by investment program brought more than $300 million to the country’s budget. These figures were announced by Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister, during his address to the Parliament.
IN 2017, THE NUMBER OF APPLICATIONS FOR ANTIGUA CITIZENSHIP WAS 321. THIS BROUGHT $64 MILLION OF DIRECT INVESTMENT TO THE COUNTRY’S BUDGET AND $198.7 MILLION OF INVESTMENT IN HOTELS, RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT AND OTHER PROPERTY.
As explained by the Prime Minister, abolishment of visa-free regime with Canada in June 2017 became a significant problem for the country. After that, the number of applications decreased dramatically. It had a particular impact on the investment option of donation to the national fund. Having analyzed the programs of the competitor countries, the government decided to lower the official processing fees, commencing in August 2017. Also, since November 1, 2017, the amount of non-refundable contribution has been reduced from $200,000 to $100,000. These changes helped to bring the number of applications close to the pre-June indicators.
Apart from that, Gaston Browne is quite determined to resume visa-free regime with Canada. He invited the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau to come and check the thoroughness of due diligence of applicants and, if necessary, give his recommendations. Earlier, Trudeau stated that the introduction of a visa regime may be reconsidered if the Government of Antigua and Barbuda improves its citizenship by investment program to ensure high standards of security.
Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the US, Sir Ronald Sanders, and the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, discuss bilateral relations between the countries.
Antigua and Barbuda economic citizenship program: statistics of issued passports
From the very start of the program in 2013 until the end of 2017, 1269 applications have been submitted by investors wishing to obtain citizenship. By that time, 2322 investors with families became the citizens of Antigua and Barbuda. In 2014, 252 new citizens received the passports of this island country. In 2015, their number increased to 655, and in 2016, it has risen beyond 1000 – the citizenship was granted to 1016 investors. In the first half of 2017, 399 people acquired an economic citizenship.
Which investment options were chosen by the applicants? 771 main applicants (69%) chose the donation to the national fund. The second popular option was the investment in real estate; it was chosen by 215 (19%) applicants. Only 135 (12%) applicants invested in a business. That is not surprising, given the amount of the required investment is quite large. In light of the reduction of the official fees and the amount of donation to the national fund in general, it is expected that this option will be even more popular in 2018.
In terms of the national composition of investors, Chinese citizens are in the lead by a huge margin. In the first half of 2017, 51% of all applicants were Chinese, and in the course of the program, they submitted 478 applications in total. 50 applications came from the citizens of Syria, followed by Russia and Lebanon (49 applications each), Bangladesh (42 applications), Libya (32 applications), and the United States (27 applications).
Why does a Caribbean passport look so attractive to wealthy individuals?
The passport of Antigua and Barbuda is ranked 27, according to the Global Passport Power Rank. What advantages can a holder of this country’s passport obtain?
- Mobility. The citizens of Antigua and Barbuda do not need visas to travel to 136 states, including the UK, Singapore and the Schengen countries.
- Favorable system of taxation. The country’s taxation system does not include a number of taxes such as global income tax, inheritance tax, gift tax, capital gains tax. In addition, here you can get the status of a tax resident.
- Minimum residency requirements. To renew the passport one needs to spend at least 5 days in the country within the 5-year period.
- Complete discretion. The government does not disclose investors’ names to any bodies of other states.
- Quick issuance of a passport. Application process takes from 3 to 5 months.
- Possibility to create a “reserve airfield” for the whole family by including in the application a spouse, children younger than 28 and parents aged 65 or above.
- Profitable investment in real estate. Certainly, most investors acquire a Caribbean passport to simplify their travel around the world without purchasing housing here. However, for those wealthy businessmen interested in buying elite real estate in the Caribbean, the island of Antigua may be the best option. The country has an extensive infrastructure and a developed tourism sector. Every year prestigious yacht shows are taking place there. The island attracts world-famous celebrities, wealthy tourists and connoisseurs of yachting.
Antigua’s luxury properties attract investors from all over the world
The cost of the second passport of Antigua and Barbuda: favorable changes
How much should one invest to apply for the Antigua and Barbuda citizenship?
Let’s focus on the available investment options. To take part in the program one has to choose from the three options listed below:
- Investment in an approved real estate project for a minimum amount of $400,000. The chosen piece of real estate needs to be included in the list of projects approved by the government.
- Donation to the National Development Fund with a minimum contribution of $100,000. The minimum amount of non-refundable contribution was reduced by half in November 2017 (previously $200,000). The government announced that this special offer would be valid until the end of October 2018.
- Investment in the country’s business – $1.5 million.
Along with the main amount of investment, there is a number of fees to be paid depending on the investment option and a number of dependents included in the application.
- In case of donation to the fund, the processing fee is $25,000 (plus $15,000 per additional dependent if there are more than 3). Due diligence fee is $7,500 (plus $7,500 for a spouse, $2,000 per each dependent child aged 12-17, and $4,000 per each adult child and investor’s parents aged over 65). Passport fee is $300 per each participant of the program.
- In case of real estate investment, the government fee in the amount of $50,000 shall be paid (plus $15,000 per additional dependent if there are more than 3). Due diligence fees is $7,500 (plus $7,500 for a spouse, $2,000 per each dependent child aged 12-17, and $4,000 per each adult child and investor’s parents aged over 65). Passport fee is $300 per each participant of the program.
What other Caribbean countries may be of interest to the investors?
The government of Antigua and Barbuda has a good reason to constantly improve the conditions of the program since the competition among the Caribbean countries is growing from year to year. What are the main pros of a second passport that other countries of the region offer?
Saint Kitts and Nevis
The program has been operating for over 30 years, and thus, is regarded the most prestigious and reliable. A few years ago, the citizenship of Saint Kitts and Nevis was acquired by Pavel Durov, the founder of VKontakte social network and Telegram Messenger. In 2017, the reputational benefits have been complemented by an attractive price: after the hurricanes the government reduced the minimum investment threshold by 50%. Now both individual applicants and investors with families need to contribute $150,000 to a special fund (previously $250,000 and $300,000, respectively). The price might go up in the second half of 2018.
During the last 10 years, more than 11,000 investors and their family members have become citizens of Saint Kitts and Nevis.
The program has been working since 1993. During this time, more than 12,000 foreign investors and their family members became the citizens of Dominica. The main advantage of the passport of Dominica is its affordability. The non-refundable contribution is $100,000, and the minimum investment for the purchase of real estate is $200,000. There is a requirement – to own a real estate object for at least 3 years. The program is also attractive due to its favorable terms: the list of required documents was shortened in the summer of 2017, and investors from Iran, Iraq and Yemen became eligible for obtaining the second passport.
The country has been offering citizenship for investment since 1997. The program was updated in 2013. To take part in the program, it is required to purchase a real estate object for at least $350,000 or contribute $200,000 to the National Transformation Fund. In 2018, the government plans to reduce the amount of donation for individual investors to $150,000.
In the first half of 2017, the number of applications for Grenada’s passport increased by 300% compared to the same period last year. One of the most important advantages of this country’s citizenship is a visa-free regime with China and the possibility of obtaining an E-2 (business) visa to the United States.
Another benefit of Grenada is a relatively reliable investment in real estate. Thanks to its favorable location, the country is not exposed to natural hazards. So, an option of acquiring citizenship by purchasing real estate is more practical here than in other Caribbean countries.
Saint Lucia’s passport program is the youngest in the Caribbean (launched in January 2016). Still, some amendments were made in the program as well. There are 4 investment options, as follows:
- purchase of real estate for minimum $300,000,
- contribution to the national fund with the minimum amount of $100,000,
- purchase of government bonds for the minimum amount of $500,000,
- investment in a local business project for the minimum amount of $3.5 million.
Thus, due to its lowered cost, the program of economic citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda has become strongly competitive in the market of investment immigration.