St Kitts & Nevis Prime Minister Timothy Harris urged Canada to drop its visa requirement on a recent trip to meet officials in Ottawa.
Harris met with some of the top MPs in the federal government, including Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen, during his visit on October 30.
Visa-free access to Canada was once a key benefit of the St Kitts citizenship-by-investment program. But concerns over how the program was vetting its candidates saw Ottawa withdraw the access back in November 2014.
Benefits of St Kitts and Nevis CIP
- Visa free travel to Schengen Area
- Visa free travel to Switzerland, UK and Ireland
- No minimum residence requirements
- Simple Procedure with minimal government formalities
- Option to include family members in the application form
- No income or wealth tax
- Option to reside in any of 15 Caribbean countries
- Lifetime citizenship
With several other Caribbean islands also promoting citizenship programs, the St Kitts scheme lost some of its competitive edge with the removal of visa-free access.
Since 2014, Harris’s government has spearheaded a comprehensive overhaul of the program, including tasking an outside agency to complete the vetting of candidates.
However, Canada is yet to be satisfied enough to remove the visa requirement.
Canada also recently took the step of imposing a visa requirement on Antigua & Barbuda, again apparently in reaction to the candidates being given passports under its citizenship-by-investment scheme.
St Kitts & Nevis CIP: Investment Thresholds
|Single applicant plus three family members||US$300,000|
|Each additional dependent||US25,000|
Antigua is now considering slashing its investment requirement to keep the program competitive without the advantage of visa-free access to Canada.
St Kitts recently announced plans to add a residency program to its list of investment immigration options.
The country has previously only offered a citizenship-by-investment program, but now Les Khan, CEO of the St Kitts Citizenship by Investment Unit, feels there is sufficient demand to expand into residency.
Experts have told St Kitts it may need to look at how it structures its VAT policy in order to get more of the program’s applicants actually living in the country.
St Kitts currently relies on its high-end property investment opportunities to keep the world’s ultra high net worth individuals interested in its program.
But if more of those individuals chose to live in the country, the benefits in terms of tax dollars could be substantial.
PM Harris has spearheaded an overhaul of the St Kitts program since he came to power. Previously, the program was mired in alleged corruption and had a reputation for not properly vetting candidates.
St Kitts made several changes to the country’s citizenship-by-investment program earlier in 2017, aimed at drawing more applications from families.
The changes include a number of alterations to ages of dependents and a lowering of investment thresholds for larger families.
Under the changes, the age limited for parents and grandparents of the main applicant has been reduced from 65 to 55.
Elsewhere, the age limit for financially dependent offspring has been raised from 25 to 30.
The government also clarified that children under 16 born after the main applicant received citizenship will no longer be processed by the country’s Citizenship-by-Investment Unit. Instead, these children can be added with a direct application to the Ministry of National Security.
Further alterations were made to the investment thresholds under the Sugar Industry Diversity Foundation stream.
Previously different thresholds existed for a single applicant, an applicant plus three family members, an applicant plus five family members and an applicant plus seven family members.
Under new rules, the five and seven family member categories will be eliminated, and any further dependents above three will required an investment of US$25,000.
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