The St. Lucia Citizenship by Investment Program enjoyed a good year in 2019 after becoming the latest to enter the highly-competitive market in the Caribbean region.
The program saw a 12 percent increase in approvals along with a 120 percent jump in total investments in 2018-19 compared to the previous year.
St Lucia CIP In Numbers
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Chinese candidates, who accounted for 16 percent of all applications filed in 2017-18, saw their dominance rise to 21 percent of all applications in 2018-19.
Since the program’s introduction in 2016, 106 Chinese investors have qualified for a St. Lucia passport, followed by Iranians and Syrians (42 each), Lebanese (40), Iraqis (39), Russians (34), and finally Americans with 30 investors.
St. Lucia CIP Investment Requirements
At US$100,000 contribution to the National Economic Fund for citizenship for a sole applicant, St. Lucia is one of the least expensive citizenship by investment programs in the world.
An investor applying with spouse and two qualifying dependents must contribute a slightly higher $190,000.
Other investment options include US$300,000 in an approved real estate project, US$3.5 million in an approved enterprise project, or US$500,000 non-interest bearing government bonds to be held for a period of five years.
Trailing Other Caribbean CIPs
The lack of other significant investment benefits compared to other Caribbean countries means St. Lucia relies solely on the price advantage to attract CIP investors.
Very low investment requirements mean fewer economic benefits unless the country succeeds in attracting a large number of investors, which St. Lucia has not succeeded in doing to date.
Further, the low investment requirement exposes St. Lucia to criticism among other Caribbean nations for devaluing the concept of citizenship by investment and raising credibility concerns.
Highlighting St. Lucia’s Robust Financial Sector
The country’s Citizenship Investment Unit intends to highlight the country’s well-developed financial sector and attract investors from a wider target audience.
A low-tax regime with fewer financial regulations and restrictions is a significant plus point for wealthy investors seeking additional benefits other than a more powerful second passport.
Attempts to introduce measures to make the CIP more attractive were stymied by objections raised by EU and the OECD over St. Lucia’s proposal to introduce a tax residency program.
Since tax residency does not automatically change with citizenship, the proposed move to offer fast-track tax residency, as well as citizenship and a second passport, would have guaranteed greater investor interest.
As of now, the country continues to rely on its low-cost CIP tag even as it works on adding more projects to the sole CIP-approved real estate project available for wealthy investment immigrants.
A stronger real-estate market could prove beneficial as potential high returns on real-estate investments could become a key factor distinguishing St. Lucia from other Caribbean immigration destinations.
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