St. Kitts & Nevis citizens are now required to get a visa in order to travel to Canada. The decision was announced by Canadian authorities following some security incidents that involved beneficiaries of the St Kitts & Nevis’ citizenship by investment program.
According to sources, the Canadian authorities say they have evidence of people linked to terrorist organizations and criminal gangs buying St. Kitts and Nevis passports to enter Canada without immigration screening. Therefore, citing security concerns, the Canadian government has imposed visa requirements on holders of St. Kitts and Nevis passports.
In addition, Canadian authorities have expressed concern that foreign nationals who cannot enter Canada on their existing passports due to security restrictions could change their names and buy St. Kitts passports to sneak into Canada. Most buyers of St. Kitts passports have reportedly been from Syria and Iran and there are concerns that certain “questionable individuals” might have obtained St. Kitts passports.
Under the Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) offered by St. Kitts and Nevis, a person who can invest between $250,000 and $400,000 into specific sectors of the St. Kitts economy can apply for permanent citizenship of the country.
Applicants applying for St. Kitts & Nevis citizenship can apparently change their names and the application process does not require previous names to be declared.
The Caribbean island nation of St. Kitts and Nevis is economically dependent on its tourism industry and offers an ideal haven for wealthy investors who want a home away from home. The country’s Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) contributes to about 25% of the nation’s GDP.
The program is a popular choice among foreign investors as it allows visa-free travel to many countries like Switzerland, the UK and Ireland, and all countries in the Schengen zone. Until now, it also allowed visa-free travel to Canada, with about 800 St. Kitts nationals visiting Canada every year.
According to the revised rules starting November 22, any person travelling on a St. Kitts and Nevis passport will be required to file for a visa and will also need to undergo background security checks before they are allowed to enter Canada.
“While this visa imposition is not related to any specific or imminent threat, it should be seen as an important signal that protecting the safety and security of Canada and Canadians is a top priority for the government,” said a source from Canadian government. However, those St. Kitts and Nevis citizens who do not pose any security threat to Canada would not be feel inconvenienced by the new rules, he added.