A Caribbean envoy has criticized a recent episode of CBS’s ’60 Minutes’ for failing to present a balanced view of the region’s Citizenship-by-Investment Programs (CIPs).
Ronald Saunders, Antigua and Barbuda’s ambassador to the U.S., says the show. entitled ‘Passports for Sale’. was only interested in portraying a negative view of the Caribbean programs in particular, failing to mention a vast majority of world’s other CIPs.
He argues that far from setting out to harbour criminals and tax dodgers, as the program suggested, the countries who run CIPs are simply motivated by finding ways to attract investment and grow their struggling economies.
Find Out More: Citizenship-by-Investment Programs
In an article for Tribune242, Saunders wrote: “I understand the imperatives that compel governments, in adverse conditions, to seek new and creative ways to keep their economies alive and to continue to provide for their people.
“In the case of ‘60 minutes’, the reporters were not concerned about the underdevelopment and neglect that caused governments to market the most precious of all precious national assets – citizenship.
He continued: “The broadcast clearly had no purpose except to denigrate – if not to emasculate – the CIPs and the governments that operate them.
“It categorically stated that CIPs “attracted among the buyers a rogue’s gallery of scoundrels, fugitives, tax cheats and possibly much worse”.
“It neglected to mention that the vast majority of CIP recipients were wealthy law-abiding persons who had been subjected to intense scrutiny by enforcement agencies before their applications were even considered.”
Saunders felt the program failed to highlight that various Caribbean nations have implemented strict due diligence mechanisms designed to limit, if not eliminate, the exploitation of their programs by individuals outside the law.
He also felt the real reason behind the implementation of CIPs was not properly explained, and simply put down to the economies of the countries being ‘cash starved’.
‘All of the Caribbean countries involved with citizenship by investment programmes have come to them by necessity,” Saunders wrote.
“Poor terms of trade, vulnerability to financial down-turns in North America and Europe from where most of their tourists come, declining aid, persistent natural disasters and no access to concessional financing from international financial institutions, have forced them to be creative in raising revenues.
“They are all faced with fiscal deficits, high debt and an international environment that is unresponsive to their predicament”.
He also highlighted that the program failed to mention some of the programs run by more major countries including the U.S. (EB-5), Canada (QIIP) and the UK (Tier 1 Investor). While these programs offer permanent residency, they can lead to citizenship in the long term.
Investment Immigration: Antigua and Barbuda Investor Citizenship
Antigua and Barbuda has an Investor Citizenship programme which enables one to acquire direct citizenship of the country without any complicated residency requirements.
Benefits of having a citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda:
- Hassle-free movement through the Caribbean CARICOM countries
- Visa-free travel in the Schengen countries of the European Union
- Family members can also acquire citizenship without any additional investment requirements.
There are three investment options offered by Antigua and Barbuda Investor Citizenship Programme:
- Investment in National Development Fund:
The National Development Fund (NDF) is a non-profit fund which was set up in 2006 to run government projects, private-public partnerships and other government approved charitable investments. An investor can acquire citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda by investing a minimum amount of US $250,000 in the NDF.
Through such an investment citizenship can be acquired by the investor, his/her spouse, any dependent children and dependent parents above 65 years of age, without any further investment requirements.
- Investment in Real Estate
Another option for acquiring citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda is to invest a minimum amount of US $400,000 in real estate property in the country. Such an investment must be made in officially-approved real estate only.
A joint investment can also be done wherein two or more applicants can jointly apply for citizenship, provided that each applicant makes a minimum investment of $400,000.
The applicant cannot sell or dispose of the property bought under this option for a period of five years. This is allowed only if the applicant buys an alternative real estate property approved by the government and which meets the permissible investment criteria for acquisition of citizenship by investment in Antigua and Barbuda.
- Investment in Business
Investors can also acquire citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda by investing in a business approved by the Citizenship by Investment Unit. There are two ways in which investors can use this option:
- Make a minimum investment of $1,500,000 in an approved business
- Make a joint investment application with one or more persons in an approved business where the total minimum investment should be a sum of $5 million. In such an investment, each applicant should contribute at least $400,000.
The application process for all options stated above requires the investor to obtain an application form from a locally authorized agent licensed by the Citizenship by Investment Unit of the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. The completed application form should be submitted along with necessary documents and payment of requisite due diligence fees and 10% of the total government processing fee. The application will be processed by the agency implementing the programme within three months of submission.
A Certificate of Registration of Citizenship will be issued to the successful applicants and all eligible dependents.
In order to get the passport, the investor should submit an application along with necessary documents and the Certificate of Registration of Citizenship.
The investor applicant must take the oath or affirmation of allegiance when he/she first visits Antigua and Barbuda. However this requirement can also be fulfilled at an embassy or high commission in the investor’s country of residence.
The passport fee is $300 per person.
Antigua and Barbuda Investor Citizenship: Fees
Due diligence fees
Dependent child aged 0-11
Dependent child aged 12-17
Dependent child aged 18-25
Austria Citizenship Investor Programme
Many countries have provisions that allow the acquisition of citizenship based on an investment and/or a direct contribution to the country’s development. The Article 10 (6) of the Austrian Citizenship Act states that the government can provide citizenship to foreign persons in case of extraordinary merit. This can be in various forms, including investment or any other form of economic benefit being brought to Austria. However, investment is not enough to be granted citizenship of Austria. The investor must also make some type of an extraordinary contribution to Austria besides investment, such as by introducing new technologies to the country or creating employment opportunities for local citizens.
Requirements for Austria Citizenship Investor Programme
Austria’s citizenship-by-investment provisions require an applicant to actively invest in the Austrian economy in the form of a joint venture or direct investment in a business which creates new jobs or produces more export sales. The direct investment should be significant and passive investments in real estate, government bonds, etc. do not qualify.
The citizenship criteria requires the standard documentation – passports, birth and marriage certificates, etc. in addition to a completely clean personal record substantiated by certificate of no criminal record, business background information, a comprehensive curriculum vitae, and impeccable references.
Generally, the applicant will be required to abandon his current citizenship as a precondition for being given the Austrian citizenship. However, if citizenship has been granted to someone under the provisions of Article 10 (6) of the Citizenship Act, then the person can legally maintain his/her former citizenship.
Procedure and Processing Time
The application process for Austrian citizenship requires government approval at many levels. It is therefore important that each application is carefully prepared and informal approvals are obtained beforehand from the key ministries before the applicant makes the investment and formally starts the application process.
Law firm Henley & Partners advises interested applicants on suitable investment opportunities, liaises with the various government ministries and agencies, and also helps prepare their formal application. The procedure would require a complete background check of the applicant and a personal interview in Austria.
On an average, it takes about 12-18 months to process a citizenship application in Austria. The final decision is made by the government of Austria. Successful applicants are granted full citizenship of the Republic of Austria and can apply for a passport immediately afterwards. Passports are usually issued within a few days of application.
Such grants of citizenship are never published or reported to other countries, as they falls under the Austrian’s government’ provisions relating to privacy/official secrets.
Benefits of Austrian Citizenship
An Austrian citizenship allows you to live and work anywhere in the European Union at any time. It also allows you to reside in Switzerland, which is very popular for its tax-advantaged residence.
Once you are granted Austrian citizenship, you are not subject to tax in the country unless you reside there. The Austrian passport has an excellent reputation and it allows you to do visa-free travel in Europe and also to the USA.
An Austrian citizenship also allows your family to enjoy full citizenship for life, which can be passed on to future generations by descent.
Cyprus Citizenship and Permanent Residency
Cyprus is an island country in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. It is an influential country in Europe, featuring excellent infrastructure and a very strong banking system which is known for its good data protection and confidentiality. Cyprus is a big hub for international trade. It is a member of the European Union and is expected to join the Schengen scheme in the near future.
Cyprus is a hot-spot for tourists, with its attractive beaches and lively night life. The country enjoys a pleasant tropical-Mediterranean climate and gets about 300 days of sunshine every year. The capital city is Nicosia; other big cities are Limossol, Larnaka and Pafos.
Benefits of Cyprus Citizenship:
- Friendly English-speaking people
- Excellent infrastructure in terms of transportation and telecommunication
- Attractive tax laws and incentives for investors
- Good climate, beautiful beaches and lively nightlife
- High quality of life
- Popular as a retirement and holiday destination
Non-EU residents who want to apply for permanent residency in Cyprus can apply for an Immigration Permit issued by the government of Cyprus in lieu of fulfilment of certain investment criteria.
Application Procedure and Processing Time
An application needs to be submitted by the candidate personally or through an agent to the Civil Registry and Migration Department of Cyprus along with a fee of €500 per application.
Each application must be placed in a standard envelope along with a list of all accompanying documents. Each accompanying document of the application must be punctured, numbered in blue ink on all pages, and inserted in the envelope along with the main application.
Once the application has been processed, it is sent to the Minister of Interior through the Permanent Secretary. The Ministry may ask for a personal interview of the candidate. Provided all documents have been submitted on time and necessary investment has been made by the candidate, it takes up to two months to examine the application and provide the final decision.
Inclusion of Family Members
The applicant can include the following categories of family members in his/her application:
- Spouse or children below 18 years of age
- Unmarried children between 18-25 years of age, provided they are students or undergraduates, and are financially dependent on the investor. In such cases, the investor must have an additional annual income of €5,000 for every such dependent child.
- Children above 18 year of age can be included in the application if:
- The child is not financially dependent on the applicant
- Besides the mandatory real estate investment, the applicant must also make an extra real estate investment of minimum €300,000 (excluding VAT and other taxes) for each child applying for the permit.
- The applicant’s child must submit all required documents and submit proof of annual income of a minimum of €30,000, along with proof of a deposit of a minimum of €30,000 in a financial institution in Cyprus with a minimum lock-in period of three years.
Other Eligibility Conditions
- The investor applicant and his/her dependent should show proof of a clean criminal record and should not be a threat or pose a risk to public order and security in Cyprus.
- The applicant and his/her spouse cannot seek, directly or indirectly, employment in Cyprus. However, dividend income from a company registered in Cyprus in which the applicant and/or spouse are shareholder(s) is not a disqualification.
- The applicant and his/her family members included in the Immigration Permit must visit Cyprus at least once in two years.
Investment Criteria for Cyprus Investor Immigration Programme
The following conditions must be met by the investor for obtaining investment immigration in Cyprus:
- Deposit a minimum sum of €30,000 in an account with a financial institution in Cyprus. This deposit should be confirmed by a letter issued by the financial institution. The deposit should be made for a minimum period of three years. The deposit should have been transferred to Cyprus from abroad.
- Provide evidence that the applicant alone or with his/her spouse has a minimum annual income of €30,000, earned outside Cyprus.
- Purchase a property worth minimum of €300,000 excluding VAT and other charges.
Dominica Citizenship through Investment
The Commonwealth of Dominica is famously known as the Nature Isle of the Caribbean because of the county’s exceptional natural beauty and splendour.
The country offers an Economic Citizenship Programme which has the following benefits:
- Get full citizenship based on investment
- Enjoy a liberalized tax regime
- No need to give up existing citizenship
- No requirement of prior residence in Dominica
- Have a second passport which makes travelling to other countries convenient
- Visa-free travel to several countries including the United Kingdom and other British Commonwealth countries
Investment Requirements for Dominica Citizenship by Investor Programme
Investor and spouse
Investor, spouse, and two children below 18 years of age
If investor has more than two children below 18 years of age
US$50,000 per child from third child onwards
A separate application is required for family members who are above 18 years of age.
Fees for Dominica Citizenship by Investor Programme
US$1,000 per investor
US$200 per applicant
US$550 per applicant
East Caribbean $100
It takes a minimum of eight weeks to process the application. A basic knowledge of the English language is required for each applicant.
Documents Required for Dominica Citizenship by Investor Programme
- Birth certificate
- Proof of clean criminal record
- Proof of educational qualification
- Proof of source of funds
- Professional reference
- Recommendation letter of educational institution of each child
- Proof of employment or business
- Recommendation letter of banker
- Medical certificate
- Proof of marriage and divorce
- Proof of payment of all requisite fees
Application Procedure for Dominica Citizenship by Investor Programme
To apply for citizenship under Dominica’s Economic Citizenship Programme, the applicant needs to submit the necessary documents along with the application form. On approval, the investor will need to deposit the investment in stipulated accounts. Once this is done and final approval is obtained, the investor can apply for Dominican passport after attending a personal interview and taking the oath of allegiance.
Malta Citizenship by Investment Programme
The Individual Investor Programme of the Republic of Malta was started this year under Legal Notice 47. As per this programme, a person can become a Maltese citizen by contributing to the economic and social development of the country. Upon successful contribution of the same, the investor and his/her family will be granted a certificate of naturalization.
Malta has been a member of the European Union since 2004. A Maltese citizenship allows you to do visa-free travel in more than 160 countries of the world. It also gives you the right of work and establishment in all nations that are members of the European Union.
Malta has a history that dates back to more than 7500 years. Today, it is a stable and prosperous country in Europe with a democratically-elected government and an independent judicial system. The country boasts of high standards of living with excellent educational and healthcare systems. The tourism and financial sectors are highly developed and the main drivers of the Maltese economy. The country is also popular for its pleasant climate and low crime rates.
A Maltese citizenship will entitle you to the following benefits:
- Visa-free travel to more than 160 countries in the world
- A Maltese passport along with your existing passport
- Opportunity to take advantage of their liberal tax setup so as to have better tax planning benefits
- Personal security in an EU country that enjoys political stability
- High quality of life through access to excellent infrastructure and good quality healthcare
- Restriction-free access to high quality education for your children
€650,000 – 70% goes into the National Development and Social Fund.
Non-refundable payment of €10,000.
Every child below 18 years of age
Every unmarried child between 18-26 years of age
Every dependant parent above 55 years of age
Once the investor’s application is approved in principle, the following needs to be done:
- Obtain a global health insurance policy for main applicant and dependants
- Purchase a residential property in Malta worth at least €350,000 for at least five years, or rent a residential immovable property with minimum annual rent of €16,000 for at least five years
- Invest in other approved instruments in Malta for an amount of €150,000 and hold them for at least five years
It takes a minimum of six months and maximum of two years to process a citizenship application. The maximum period includes the one-year mandatory period of residency in Malta.
Investment Immigration: Saint Kitts and Nevis Immigrant Investor Programme
Saint Kitts and Nevis is a small country in the West Indies, and forms part of the Lesser Antilles. It is located about 2000 kilometres southeast of Miami, USA. The country is a democracy and the Queen of England is its Head of State. The capital of the country is at Basseterre on the larger St. Kitts island, which also serves as the political centre of the nation.
The Citizenship-by-Investment Programme was started by St. Kitts and Nevis in 1984. It is the oldest programme of this kind in the world. Under this programme, the Citizenship by Investment Unit of St. Kitts and Nevis has laid out rigid investment requirements and conducts thorough due diligence so as to attract investor citizens of good character.
Benefits of Citizenship of St Kitts and Nevis
- No minimum residency required
- No personal visit required
- Visa-free travel to all countries in the Schengen zone
- Visa free travel to Canada, Switzerland, the UK and Ireland
- No income or wealth tax
- Involves a simple application procedure with minimum formalities
- Family members can be included in the application form
- Right to reside in any of the 15 Caribbean community countries
- Citizenship for lifetime
- Second passport with permission to keep existing citizenship
Investors above 18 years of age can apply for Citizenship by Investment under two different options:
- Investment in Real Estate
- Investment in the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation
Investment in Real Estate
To qualify under this option, the applicant must invest a minimum of US $400,000 in designated real estate. Joint investment option is also available, where each investor should make an investment of the minimum amount.
The application is reviewed by the government and the final decision is taken by the Cabinet.
The investor has to bear all costs related to the purchase of the real estate – conveyance fee, compulsory insurance fund contribution, and other charges amounting to approximately 4-5 percent of the purchase price.
Once the application is approved in principle, the investor has to pay the following fees to the government of St. Kitts and Nevis:
Each child of main applicant under 18 years of age
Each qualified dependent of main applicant above 18 years of age
Children between 18-25 years of age should be supported fully by the parents and must be in a full time educational institution.
Investment in the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation
The SIDF (The Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation) in St. Kitts and Nevis is a public charity audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers. An investor using this option for citizenship can invest in the following ways:
Applicant with a spouse and two children below 18 years of age (up to three family members)
Applicant with a spouse and four children below 18 years of age (up to five family members)
Applicant with up to seven family members
Over and above the seven dependents, unmarried dependent children aged between 18-25 years of age can be included at an additional fee
The above contribution is inclusive of all government fees except for the due diligence fees.
Due Diligence Fees, Background Check Fees, and Processing Fees
Dependents above 16 years
- Spouse of the main applicant
- Child of the main applicant who is:
- below 18 years of age
- between 18-25 years of age, fully supported by main applicant and in full time attendance at a recognized educational institution
- above 18 years of age and is physically or mentally challenged
- Parents or grandparents of the main applicant and/or his spouse above 65 years of age, fully supported by the main applicant.
It takes 90 days to process a citizenship application in St. Kitts and Nevis.