Recent developments surrounding the Caribbean citizenship by investment programs have shed light on challenges faced by investment migration across the world.
St Kitts & Nevis, Grenada and Dominica recently announced that they will begin conducting interviews with citizenship by investment applicants as part of their new enhanced due diligence framework. St Kitts & Nevis also doubled the minimum investment amount for their CIP, and restricted Iraqi nationals from applying.
These developments are said to have come in the aftermath of a Caribbean - US roundtable discussion as well as the EU-CELAC Summit in Brussels, held earlier this year. The meetings resulted in six new principles the Caribbean CBIs must follow, these include:
1. Collective agreement on the treatment of denials: Not to process applications from persons whose applications have been denied in another CIP jurisdiction by proactively sharing information on denials.
2. Interviews: Conduct interviews with applicants, whether virtual or in-person.
3. Additional checks: Each jurisdiction will run checks on each application with the Financial Intelligence Unit of its respective country.
4. Audits: Audit the Programme annually or every two years in accordance with internationally accepted standards.
5. Retrieval of passports: Request law enforcement assistance in retrieving revoked/recalled passports.
6. Treatment of Russians and Belarusians: Suspend processing applications from Russians and Belarusians. Four jurisdictions have already suspended applications and Grenada, which processes applications from Russians and Belarusians, with enhanced due diligence, will suspend processing new applications from Russia and Belarus from March 31st, 2023.
The guidelines aim to increase the efficacy of the program’s due diligence process while also streamlining communication between the government, agents, and investors.
But St Kitts & Nevis doubling the minimum investment amount may not be a result of EU pressure alone. It is a complex matter that takes into account the future value of money, inflation, and currency fluctuation, among other factors. The CIP has to make financial sense for the country as well as the investors.
The industry has been through bigger upheavals, especially in the 90s when programs were opening and closing at alarming rates. The Caribbean CIPs have withstood more turbulent times and continued to be not only relevant but extremely popular throughout.
The demand will never slow down because citizenship by investment is so life-transforming. It breaks down so many barriers that it will always be a hot commodity for everyone. The price hike may have a minor effect in the short term, but going forward, it is business as usual.
A FUTURE BRIGHT WITH PROSPECTS
Savory & Partners’ Founder and CEO, Jeremy Savory shares his views on recent developments in the Caribbean programs and the future of the Citizenship by Investment industry
The industry has faced seismic changes before, and it has adapted accordingly; how big of an issue do you think this is? And will it inevitably snowball into something bigger?
We do expect other Caribbean CIPs to follow suit because it makes strategic sense for them to protect the benefits of the investors and give maximum returns to them as nationality holders. We may be looking at price hikes across the board and Turkey and Greece have already done it.
It’s interesting how the citizenship by investment landscape is changing, but it’s nothing new. These transformations are not isolated occurrences but rather reflective of broader global trends. One example is the introduction of the Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) processes in the EU and the UK.
And it’s not just Europe. Look around, and you’ll see countries everywhere tweaking their visa rules - visa waivers come and go. Why? It’s a mix of reasons – security, trade, diplomacy – you name it. Every country is playing its cards to get the best deal.
How do you think it will affect the Caribbean states on a micro-level, as well as the agents that offer these CIPs?
I think the donation option won’t differ a lot. The major difference might be in the real estate option because one of the very few criticisms Caribbean CIPs get is that some of the projects take longer to complete and that all comes down to adequate funding.
As for the agents, well, I’ve been in this industry for a long time, and I know all the veterans and how they operate. I think this update will truly differentiate those who know intimately how the governments think and what investors want from the newer, smaller agents with short-term self-interests of generating revenue.
Would you advise a client to go for another Caribbean CIP instead of St Kitts & Nevis?
Citizenship by investment is an intricate, delicate matter that requires a lot of expertise and precision to get right, and that is why I don’t consider the price increase to be a major issue.
In essence, St Kitts & Nevis is merely re-aligning its CIP pricing to underline its position as the platinum passport option, thereby reducing volumes to better invest in processing and due diligence, ensuring higher quality applicants.
Each investor is different and being authorised for several years in several countries means we put the client’s needs first and not limit ourselves to any one jurisdiction.