Caribbean countries offer discounts for citizenship under COVID pressure
Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programs have been around in the Caribbean for a long time. Some countries in the region have been offering passports to wealthy foreigners in exchange for investment, however, now with vast tourism losses due to the coronavirus, many passports are available for sale prices.
Some of the countries to recently cut down the prices or make their CBI programmes more appealing are St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, and Dominica.
St. Kitts and Nevis, which relies a whopping 35% of its government income from a CBI programme, was one of the first Caribbean countries to start offering discounts.
Les Khan, CEO of St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship Investment Unit, said in a phone interview with Bloomberg: “In these days of Covid, when tourism is not happening, we have to find ways to create revenue to sustain our economy."
St. Kitts and Nevis is currently a promotion until the end of 2020. For $150,000 payment to the country’s 'Sustainable Growth Fund', will secure passports for a family of up to four members. That is a 23% discount from the usual cost of $195,000.
2020 Henley Passport Index ranks St. Kitts and Nevis currently the 26th most desirable passport in the world, out of 169 countries.
In May, St. Lucia offered a 50% discount for CBI investment in five-year, non-interest bearing bonds: $250,000 for an individual or $300,000 for a family of four. The special offer expires at the end of 2020. The 2020 Henley Passport Index ranks St. Lucia's passport at number 33.
In Antigua and Barbuda, a family of four can 'buy' citizenships at the bargain price of a $100,000 donation to its development fund. The government recently cut the price for adding additional children. the 2020 Henley Passport Index ranks Antigua and Barbuda's passport at number 29.
Dominica offered – pre-COVID-19 – the cheapest citizenship by investment program in the world: the cost of second passports starting at only $100,000, but the price was scheduled to increase by 75%, to $175,000.
But "this major cost increase has now been put on hold indefinitely, although prices could increase once the COVID-19 pandemic is over so we encourage you to act fast," states Dominica CBI website.
The Henley Passport Index ranks Dominica 38th most desirable passport in the world.
According to Henley & Partners, a London-based passport broker, there has been a 42 per cent increase in citizenship applications, which could indicate that the discount has worked, or that people are now more keen to leave their home countries.
According to Dr. Christian Kalin of Henley & Partners: "'Investment migration' has shifted from being about living the life you want in terms of holidays and business travel to a more holistic vision that includes healthcare and safety."