Second citizenship by investment: How Caribbean countries & Vanuatu compete for clients

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James Harris, the Managing Director of the Vanuatu Information Centre, has stated that the cost of participation in Vanuatu’s citizenship by investment program has been reduced. Earlier this year, the authorities of several other Caribbean countries announced changes in their passport programs as well.

James Harris, the head of the Vanuatu Information Centre (responsible for Vanuatu’s citizenship issuance in exchange for investment) has claimed that the government of this Pacific country decided to reduce the minimum investment amount for the program participants. The official made this known during his interview with Investment Migration Insider in April 2018 at the Investment Immigration Summit in Vietnam.

“The problem of program cost was crucial for Vanuatu,” said James Harris, adding that by making such move, the authorities of the country try to attract high-income foreigners.

New price for Vanuatu passport under the Development Support Program (DSP) will be the following:

  • $150,000 for an individual investor;
  • $170,000 for an investor and his/her spouse;
  • $185,000 for a family couple with an underage child;
  • $200,000 for a family of 4 (spouses, two children under 18).

Apart from the contribution to the state fund, this amount also includes government fees. But it does not include the fees of agencies offering immigration services.

During the interview, the VIC Managing Director also informed that the authorities of Vanuatu are going to introduce a completely new investment option. He was talking about an investment in real estate. The government is planning to discuss the terms of this option in detail in May.

Development project in Aore Island is likely to become the first government-approved complex to be used in the course of the CBI program. The estimated cost of the resort property will be around $900,0000. This investment will cover citizenship price for the family of 4.

There will also be given an option of joint ownership. One will be able to get citizenship by purchasing an object’s share equivalent to 25% of the total cost. The approximate price will be $350,000.

Vanuatu’s citizenship by investment program was launched in 2014. Its unique benefit is the speed of document processing. One can obtain the country citizenship within 1-2 months. No other country can beat that speed.

Important! Another noticeable advantage is simplicity of due diligence. Even those investors who have once been denied a Caribbean passport can apply for the citizenship of Vanuatu. The thing is that Caribbean countries exchange information about citizenship rejection cases. However, this country in the Pacific conducts its own due diligence check without taking into consideration previous reports done by other countries. Vanuatu’s government makes all the decisions based on the country internal checks.

How are things in the Caribbean?

Competition in the investment immigration market is mounting every year. This factor is beneficial for investors, since it encourages governments to reduce costs and simplify CBI program participation conditions.

In particular, Antigua and Barbuda halved the minimum amount of investment in real estate. It was revealed by the Cabinet on April 11, 2018. In order to receive citizenship, the investor will need to purchase real estate worth at least $400,000. However, from May 1 to October 31 two applicants can share the mentioned amount by investing $200,000 each. Investment should be made in one object.

There is also a 50% discount valid in Antigua until October 31, 2018, it applies to getting citizenship in exchange for investment in the state fund. The minimum contribution corresponds to $100,000. After November 1, the minimum cost might become $200,000 again.

Similar offers are provided by Saint Kitts and Nevis. A foreign investor must purchase a real estate object worth at least $400,000 to obtain the country’s passport. But since April 2, 2018, the required amount can be shared between two candidates, $200,000 for each. In this case, however, the term of property retention increases from 5 to 7 years.

The authorities of Saint Kitts and Nevis have also taken a good care of keeping the affordability of the donation option. Right after the Disaster Relief Fund (DRF) was closed, the Sustainable Growth Fund was opened on April 2. An individual program participant can invest $150,000 in the newly-created fund and receive the passport in 3-5 months.

Grenada also keeps up with the abovementioned Caribbean countries in pursuit of wealthy investors. The jurisdiction authorities have recently decided to reduce the minimum investment amount for individual applicants wishing to get the passport of the country. With the discount corresponding to 25%, one can obtain Grenada’s passport by making a $150,000 donation into the National Development Fund (the sum used to be $200,000).

Unified price for Caribbean countries passports

Experts and authorities are calling this tendency in the Lesser Antilles a ‘price war’. Some officials insist on the importance of uniting efforts of the Caribbean countries offering economic citizenship and thus putting an end to the mentioned ‘price war’. On May 2, 2018, the Investment Migration Council published an official letter listing recommendations aimed at recovering harmonious relations among the island countries. The pieces of advice concern two major parameters: due diligence process and passport cost. In particular, the Council proposed to set the minimum contribution amount for all the Caribbean programs at $150,000.

It is hard to say whether the recommendation of the Council will be taken into consideration. The issue will be discussed during the Invest Caribbean Summit 2018 which is to be held in the middle of May. The heads of governments and other high-level officials will participate in the discussion. It is not easy to forecast the outcome, minding the Caribbean market specifics. The process of consideration in relation to any novelties might take several years. It is the peculiar feature of the region.

The answer is even more controversial if we compare the actual passport prices in each country. In some of them the threshold is lower than the one offered by the Council, even considering additional charges and state fees. By comparing the costs of citizenship programs in the Caribbean countries, we can see that the most beneficial offers for individual investors are valid in Dominica and Saint Lucia, while Antigua and Barbuda and Saint Kitts and Nevis are better for families. Each country has its own specific set of advantages. For example, Grenadian citizens can travel visa-free to China and get the E-2 visa to the USA.

Non-refundable donation to the state fund: Passport costs for Caribbean and Vanuatu’s citizenship

Individual applicant Family of 4*
Minimum investment amount (donation) Investment amount with additional fees Minimum investment amount (donation) Investment amount with additional fees
Antigua and Barbuda $100,000 $132,800 $100,000 $145,400
Saint Kitts and Nevis $150,000 $157,800 $195,000 $212,000
Grenada $150,000 $158,000 $200,000 $225,800
Dominica $100,000 $110,000 $200,000 $222,700
Saint Lucia $100,000 $109 600 $200,000 $212,900
Vanuatu $150,000 $200,000

*investor, spouse, adult child and underage child

Is it possible to get a second citizenship for even a lower price?

As of today, one can legally get a second citizenship by investment in one of the 12 countries. Until the middle of the previous year, the most affordable offer was provided by the Comoros. Considering all the additional charges and state fees, the total cost corresponded to $62,000.

However, at this very moment, one can legally obtain a second passport for no less than $100,000. On June 1, 2017, the citizenship program of the Union of the Comoros ceased to exist. There is no information regarding whether the program will ever be re-launched.

Thus, one can legally apply for passport programs in 5 Caribbean countries (St.Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Dominica, St.Lucia), in Vanuatu and two European countries: Cyprus and Malta. The cost of passport in Malta starts at $880,000 and it Cyprus — at €2,000,000. The programs of Caribbean jurisdictions are chosen by those who wish to multiply their investments (upon investing in real estate or business) and get tax burden reduced. Vanuatu is a perfect choice for investors who want to obtain a second passport as soon as possible. Cyprus or Malta is a good option for candidates wishing to have access to all the benefits offered by the European citizenship.

Krisitna

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