Saint Lucia’s passport program is the youngest in the Caribbean region. It still has every reason to become a serious competitor to the programs of the neighboring countries. Find the information about the specifics of due diligence process for Saint Lucia’s potential citizens in this article.
Saint Lucia has got support of influential western countries
The Chief Executive Officer of the St. Lucia Citizenship by Investment Unit, Nestor Alfred, stated that the government was doing its utmost not only to make the program successful and sought-after but also to attract the ‘right’ foreign investors. Thorough due diligence is a good way of reaching the set goal.
When applying for the Caribbean citizenship, the investor does not have to confirm any links with the country, therefore full background check is a crucially important step for the hosting jurisdiction as it ensures the prosperity and safety of the country.
According to the statement made by Nestor Alfred, the strictness of the current system was approved by the USA, Canada and the UK. Foreign partners thanked the Government of Saint Lucia and asked the country to continue using this effective method of filtering the applicants.
With all this support from the west, the country officials are not planning to change or ease the due diligence. For example, in 2017, because of ineffective actions by the Government of Antigua and Barbuda regarding the preliminary due diligence of the applicants, Canada decided to revoke visa-free access for citizens of Antigua & Barbuda.
Involving independent experts from the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Canada
Speaking about the program peculiarities, Nestor Alfred focused on the detailed multi-level vetting process of investors. Third-party experts having the required instruments and practical basis for conducting the full checks are attracted for this purpose.
These third parties may be located in any region of the world. Nestor Alfred noted that Saint Lucia cooperated with the companies from the UK, the USA and Canada. At the first stage experts are sent ‘to the field’ to establish the investor’s identity, the investors activities, social circle and the location of the company owned by the applicant, to check if there is any positive or negative information about the investor and/or his/her family members in the media and on the Internet.
The collected information is given to the relevant authorities of Saint Lucia, and they continue with the further vetting procedure. Third-party companies can provide the information obtained from the World Database, indicating the conviction record of the investor. In the meantime, the information related to the facts of attracting prohibited organizations for activities, money laundering and human trafficking can be provided only by law enforcement agencies. It means that neither positive nor negative answer regarding the citizenship application can be issued before the law enforcement agencies provide their report on the applicant’s screening.
Speaking with journalists, Nestor Alfred pointed out that in the course of Saint Lucia’s passport program there had been rejections caused by the warning from the law enforcement agencies. It is important for the investor not to hide any information, for example, a conviction of a family member.
Processing time for applications
Document processing takes from 3 to 5 months. There have been cases of application consideration that exceeded 260 days. It depends on the vetting complexity.
The process generally consist of 3 major stages:
- Preliminary check. At this stage various risks are analyzed and the information about the investor’s reliability is provided.
- Due Diligence. The government uses expert help from independent companies. Detectives check all kinds of sanction lists, media channels, study the documents proving that the investment funds were legally obtained.
- Applicant’s background check. Local agencies look for the confirmation or refutation of the information about the applicant’s identity.
Despite the fact that the case processing in Saint Lucia is the longest in the Caribbean, local authorities are sure it allows them to attract only ‘high-quality’ investors. Accordingly, this allows applicants to be sure they find themselves in a reliable business environment.
Alternative options in the Caribbean region
Applicant’s vetting is carried out by all countries with passport programs. However, the procedure terms, ‘depth’ and compleхity may differ from country to country.
Grenada. The program was launched in 1997. A citizenship status has been granted to 1,300 people. The term of case consideration is 2-4 months. All the candidates applying for citizenship go through the compulsory due diligence. In November 2016, the government introduced an amendment, according to which the investor’s spouse who does not apply for a passport (if the investor is married but submits an individual application) should also undergo the background check.
Starting from 2016, there has also been applied a regional filter. It means the applicant who got rejected by another country in the Caribbean is not allowed to get Grenada’s passport.
Dominica. The passport program was introduced here in 1991. The period of citizenship documents processing is 3-5 months. More than 12,000 people have used this opportunity. The country’s government considers the existing check system quite detailed and reliable for filtering out the unsuitable candidates. The citizens of Iran, Syria and Yemen can participate in Dominica’s citizenship program.
Saint Kitts and Nevis. The oldest state CBI program in the world. Starting from the program’s launch in 1984, more than 11,000 have received the country’s citizenship by investment. According to the claim by Les Khan, CEO of the Citizenship by Investment Unit, there is a several-stage due diligence of the candidate. First all the information is checked by certified agents, then the case is directed to CIU, after which it is given to the companies responsible for reliability check. The final stage is a secret detective investigation followed by either positive or negative decision regarding the investor’s application.
Antigua and Barbuda. The program was launched in 2013. Good health, no conviction record, perfect personal and business reputations — these are the major preconditions for the application approval.
There are 5 Caribbean countries offering official citizenship by investment programs. It is important to pay attention to the following aspects when choosing the particular passport program: rejection statistics, the ‘depth’ of due diligence and the list of must-have documents.