The government of Antigua and Barbuda announced last week that their Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) will no longer be available for nationals of six countries – Iraq, North Korea, Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen and Somalia. The decision was taken to “safeguard the integrity” of the program, sources revealed.
“The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda has taken this position to safeguard the integrity of the CIP program, and to ensure that only those persons whose past behavior will not threaten the very well-being of the citizenship program, can be accepted,” said the statement issued by the government.
However, not all nationals of the six countries will be barred from applying under Antigua & Barbuda’s citizenship program. As an exception, those citizens of these countries who also have legally valid residence in a country in Western Europe, or in the US, or Canada, will be allowed to apply. All applicants will be subjected to the “high standards of the due diligence investigation”.
Citizenship by investment programs in the Caribbean were first started by St. Kitts and Nevis in 1984. Following its great success, other neighboring countries also initiated similar programs to attract foreign investors. In the Caribbean, CIP is currently being offered by Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Turks and Caicos and St. Lucia.
Antigua and Barbuda started its citizenship by investment program just last year with an aim to “to haul the economy back onto the road of development”. Under their program, an applicant can qualify for citizenship of the island nation by making one of the following investment options – a minimum contribution of $200,000 into the National Development Fund, or a minimum investment of $400,000 in a government approved real estate projects, or a minimum business investment of $1.5 million directly into a government-approved business.
The CIPs offered by the Caribbean nations have recently raised concerns from other countries due to security issues and the likelihood of these programs being subject to abuse by criminals and terrorists. Just recently, Canada announced that it will no longer allow visa-free entry to the nationals of St. Kitts and Nevis following alleged misuse of the program by an Iranian national.