St. Kitts and Nevis was the first nation to introduce a citizenship by investment program for wealthy investors in 1984. With a population of around 50,000 and an economy dependent primarily on export of sugar, the Naturalization Act was amended to allow investors making significant contribution to the nation to become a full-fledged citizen without a long waiting period or other onerous restrictions.
St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment program experienced very little demand for over two decades with just a few hundred passports being issued until 2006. Struggling to improve the efficiency of its sugar industry, St. Kitts and Nevis revamped its program and allowed investors donating $200,000, now increased to $250,000, to the Sugar Industry Diversification Fund to gain citizenship after passing requisite due diligence formalities. Further, the nation allowed applicants to gain citizenship within three months without having to make a personal visit.
The popularity of the country’s passport increased significantly when holders became entitled to visa-free travel to the 26 European nations that constitute the Schengen Area. Combination of additional investment options like purchase of real estate and aggressive marketing has enhanced the popularity of the program despite a waiting period of four to six months.
The citizenship by investment program has transformed the country’s economy. Before the revamp in 2006, revenue from sale of citizenship accounted for around 1% of the national GDP. In 2014, this rose to 25% with half the revenue from the program flowing into the SIDF. This figure could well be higher when one considers the impact of development of new properties on the Islands.
Processing fees generated by the program accounts for 7% of the national GDP between 2010 and 2015. The manufacturing sector, over the same period, accounted for just 5% of the annual GDP. The program has resulted in construction of hotels, houses, high-end resorts, and luxury development projects.
Eligible investment options include purchase of share of a villa worth $400,000, purchase of land that can be sold after a period of five years, or purchase of a marina berth costing around $1.5 million to $3 million. The boom has been so sudden that skeptics and critics warn of a passport bubble where overvalued properties may, in the future, find no tenants or buyers.
Despite moral and philosophical objections to sale of citizenship, the concept of spread to other nations in the region that are keen on cashing into the citizenship by investment boom, which attracted investments worth $2 billion in 2014. Supporters point out that conventional methods of obtaining citizenship are equally arbitrary and are obsolete in a globalized world.
Programs offering citizenship or residency are here to stay with around 28 EU nations offering such programs along with other nations like Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, and the USA.
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Interested Investors: Kindly complete the following form and we will contact you to discuss your global residency and citizenship investment options.