Getting access to high-quality education and healthcare services, tax benefits for businessmen, and securing a European pension for yourself or your parents, not to mention worldwide mobility without red tape – all of these are quite possible. The easiest and quickest way to obtain a European passport or Caribbean citizenship, and the opportunities listed above, is to become an investor.
But how to choose the most favorable and convenient immigration program among all the offers out there? Our experienced immigration advisors at Imperial & Legal have prepared this article to help you learn about the nuances of this process and choose the most suitable option for you.
Caribbean citizenship by investment
Caribbean citizenship by investment programs is quite beneficial for investors. They can save you time and money. Another advantage is the ability to choose your ideal investment option. Do you want to have a choice of investments? Become a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda. Are you going to visit China? Obtain a Grenada or Dominica passport. Are you still single? Pay attention to the Dominica citizenship by investment program. Do you want to save? St Lucia’s citizenship by investment program is the best choice. Do you value reputation and reliability? Get a St Kitts & Nevis passport.
Each of these nations in the Lesser Antilles is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. Each country is closely associated with the UK, and all citizens can rely on the Commonwealth consular protection if necessary. This is one of the least obvious benefits of citizenship by investment programs.
The obvious benefits are as follows:
1. Visa-free travel. A Dominica passport allows you to cross the border of over 140 countries around the world including China. Grenada citizenship is a chance to visit 144 countries including China and Singapore. St Lucia citizenship program provides visa-free access to 146 countries, St Kitts & Nevis citizenship – over 150 countries, and Antigua and Barbuda citizenship – 151 countries.
2. Right to live in the USA and Canada. A Grenada passport is your chance to apply for a US E-2 visa that is unavailable to many nationals. Have you chosen St Lucia? It means that you can get a US business visa which allows you to stay in the USA for up to six months. Do you consider St Kitts & Nevis? You can also apply for a ten-year visa to the USA. An Antigua and Barbuda passport gives you access to a ten-year business visa to the USA and a long-stay visa to Canada.
3. Favorable taxation system. Investors pay no tax on wealth, inheritance, and capital gains. The list goes on.
4. Enrolment quotas to the best UK universities and significant savings on tuition fees. For example, the difference in the price for non-residents starts at £5,000. Nationals of Caribbean states have more time to look for a job after graduation. It means that they do not have to leave the country immediately in order to come back later.
5. Family reunion. Foreign investors applying for Caribbean citizenship by investment can include in their applications their spouse, financially dependent children under 30 years old, parents and grandparents over 55 (Grenada allows to include dependent parents above 65), and unmarried siblings of a certain age.
All adult relatives must be financially dependent on the main applicant. In European countries, the requirements are much stricter. In most cases, only a spouse and minor children are allowed to be included in the application, rarely parents.
6. Confidentiality. Local authorities do not disclose investors’ personal data to third parties.
7. Affordability. A Caribbean passport in Antigua, St Lucia, and Dominica can be obtained by investing $100,000. The minimum investment in St Kitts & Nevis citizenship or Grenada citizenship is $150,000. In some cases investments are refundable.
8. Accelerated routes. You can become a citizen in 45-60 days (for St Kitts and Nevis) or three to six months (for all other countries).
9. No need to live in or visit a county in order to receive a passport. Documents can be submitted online without traveling to a country. However, the exception is Antigua and Barbuda. You need to visit the country for five days within the 5-year period after obtaining a passport.
10. A streamlined application process. Caribbean citizenship is also given to those who do not speak English and do not know the traditions and culture of the new homeland.
For applicants of Antigua and Barbuda and St. Lucia immigration programs, there is another pleasant boon. Investors have a choice of investment options. European citizenship by investment programs is stricter: it regulates not only investment amounts but also where money can be invested.
It may seem like Caribbean citizenship by investment programs provide investors with unrestricted freedom. However, this is not the case. For example, despite the visa-free regime, it is possible to spend only a limited amount of time in European countries – from three to six months.
The disadvantage mentioned above pales in comparison with the many benefits that you will have when you get your long-awaited passport. That is why Caribbean citizenship by investment programs is becoming more and more popular.
EU citizenship and European passport
European citizenship by investment and European passport has long been attracting wealthy foreigners from other countries. However, due to corruption cases, such programs have become increasingly limited in a number of European countries. In 2020, Cyprus’s citizenship by investment program was suspended by the government. Malta’s citizenship-by-investment program has been criticized by the EU.
For this reason, quotas for issuing passports by investment for 2023 have already been exhausted under this program. If you want to become Maltese, you should apply for citizenship by naturalization which takes a lot of time: naturalization itself takes 14 months and longer (the exact time depends on the amount of investment), and another three years, in rare cases one year, when you will have to live in Malta. In addition to investments, an applicant will need two sponsors, who are not relatives, in order to complete the application process. Candidates are vetted thoroughly.
Investing is a complicated system: those who want to obtain a European passport will have to invest in the development of the country, spend money on the purchase of real estate, and donate to charities. The investment starts at €1.15 million. An applicant will have to pass due diligence and background checks for another five years after obtaining a European passport.
From 2023, Montenegro will stop granting citizenship by investment. The official government website has reported two reasons for such a decision. The first one is that Golden Passport Program may become an obstacle to the entry of Montenegro into the EU, and the second one is that it was not so profitable for the state (at the end of 2020, only 12 applicants were granted citizenship by investment). By the way, this country is the only one that the European Commission has not accused of unfair trade of European passports.
Foreign investors can still apply for UK citizenship by investment. You can consider an Innovator visa where with a minimum investment of £50,000 you can obtain a visa and then get permanent residence (ILR) in 3 years under the condition that your business is successful enough.
You can apply for British citizenship 5 years after starting living in the UK and 12 months after obtaining the ILR. During the five years before a citizenship application, you can leave the UK for not more than 450 days in total, and in the last year, in settled status, your absences should not exceed 90 days.
A significant drawback of European citizenship by investment programs is confidentiality issues: at various times, Montenegro, Malta, and Cyprus have released lists of those who have become citizens by investment.
A Caribbean or European passport?
There are some important differences between citizenship by investment programs in the Caribbean and in Europe:
- A European passport gives you the right to live and work in Europe, while Caribbean citizenship by investment programs does not and is for visa-free travel only.
- Caribbean countries offer foreign investors more financially favorable conditions and the freedom to choose an investment option.
- A fast process of obtaining citizenship is another advantage of Caribbean programs.
In order to make the process of obtaining second citizenship as simple as possible, you should get in touch with an experienced specialist. Imperial & Legal will not only advise you but also help you at every stage of obtaining your second citizenship.