Some of the most accessible citizenship programmes in the world are offered by countries in the Caribbean. And some of these programmes have just become even more accessible.
One might wonder, why do I need a passport to a Caribbean country? Do not be too quick to judge. With benefits such as visa-free travel to countries including Canada and Schengen-zone member states, citizenship on one of the tropical islands is a welcome asset.
Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica have recently made major changes to their citizenship by investment programmes, changes which have made them earn the name ‘over-the-counter programmes’.
Antigua and Barbuda
Antigua and Barbuda is a relative newcomer to the market, with its citizenship-by-investment programme up and running for almost one year. A major hurdle to the programme was the physical presence requirement, which has been reduced.
Previously, an investor applying for citizenship was required to stay in the country for 35 days in a five-year period. This has now been reduced to five days, explained Armand Arton, president and CEO, Arton Capital.
Harold Lovell, Minister of Finance and Economy, said earlier to Emirates 24|7: “Whereas most islands in the region do require minimal to no physical presence of the applicant in order to obtain citizenship, Antigua and Barbuda requires the applicant to stay in the country for 35 days over a period of five years, after having obtained citizenship. This seemed to be a hurdle for many people, and we do not want to harm the process.”
Citizenship on the island can be obtained in return for a minimum investment amount. This includes a minimum investment of $200,000 in the National Development Fund (NDF), a minimum investment of $400,000 in the real estate sector, or a minimum investment of $1.5 million in an existing business.
No minimum level of English is required, and citizens approved under the programme will not be taxed. A maximum processing time of 90 days is applied, although this usually results in 30-60 days.
The passport offers visa-free travel to 130 countries, including Schengen countries, and it is valid for five years.
Dominica is the cheapest citizenship by investment programme in the region, however, applicants are subjected to a number of requirements, which have been loosened recently.
One of the requirements to acquire citizenship on the island was a single visit for an interview to Dominica. The interview requirement has now been waived, knows Arton.
The applicant becomes eligible with the single contribution of $100,000 to the government fund, or a minimum investment of $200,000 in real estate, which must be held for a minimum of three years.
Further, the applicant must have the ability to speak English, and there is minimal taxation on the investment. The citizenship and passport processing will take 5-9 months, and the passport is valid for 10 years.
Currently, the passport offers visa-free travel to 70 countries, not including the Schengen member states. However, this is to change, as the island is on the list of countries that will gain this right soon.
Besides the mentioned countries citizenship programmes are offered by St Kitts and Nevis, and Grenada.
St Kitts and Nevis is the longest-running and most popular programme, with visa-free access to 130 countries including Schengen member states.
Grenada is the latest to join its Caribbean counterparts. It is on the list of countries to be granted visa-free access to the Schengen zone, but the investment options are still limited.