By Adrian Bishop for Opp.Today,
Since taking office some 15 months ago, St. Kitts & Nevis Prime Minister, Dr Timothy Harris, has taken steps to improve its Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) – the oldest scheme of its kind in the world.
A new citizen case management team has been put in place, which allows for the faster processing of applications alomg with a thorough due diligence process allowing clients to have continuous updates on the process of their applications.
The Caribbean nation has also just been granted visa-free travel to Brazil with more countries expected to follow.
The St Kitts & Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program was established in 1984. To qualify, applicants must make either an investment of at least US$400,000 in an approved real-estate development and pay government fees, other fees and taxes, or make a US$250,000 contribution to the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation and pay due diligence fees.
Dr the Honorable Timothy Harris, in conjunction with global immigration and visa specialist, Savory & Partners, spoke more about the CIP to a private audience of prominent Middle East CEOs at the Capital Club, in, Dubai.
The Prime Minister spoke passionately of his country’s identity and heritage, impressive economic growth figures and the growing tourism sector.
Jeremy Savory, Chief Executive and Founder of Savory & Partners, tells OPP.Today about the demand for the St Kitts & Nevis CIP and the benefits it offers and how it has recovered from ‘a perfect storm’ with 2016 set to be a year of promise.
“As the oldest and best known Citizenship by Investment Program without residency requirements in the world, demand for the St Kitts & Nevis passport had peaked to more than 100 applications a month before the loss of the Canada visa free waiver in November 2014 hit the program hard.
“The election of Dr Timothy Harris in February 2015 and his immediate raft of sweeping reforms to ensure the future of the CBI program remained secure impacted application processing times discouraging applicants. Demand was further tempered by the rise of other Caribbean alternatives such as the Antigua & Barbuda, Grenada and Dominica citizenship programs, the latter two countries receiving Schengen visa-free waiver approval in May 2015. A perfect storm was thereby created.
“But the program has over three decades of recognition, experience and investor confidence and crucially the passport itself offers greater consular presence than its peers particularly in the Middle East where there is significant portion of global demand. So, 2016 promises to be the year that the fruits of the Prime Minister’s labour are borne.”
Demand for the program has come from literally all four corners of the globe, he says. “Mostly our clients are expatriates seeking second citizenship due to instability in their home country but we also encounter individual cases with very unique scenarios. Traditionally demand has been from Syria, Lebanon and Iraq (Afghani and Iranian citizens are excluded) but as a company we have had serious interest from everywhere from Israel to Italy. Having processed second passport applications for over 35 nationalities we are already familiar with the details unique to an applicant’s documentation.”
The changes to the scheme introduced by the Prime Minster have made a great deal of difference, Jeremy Savory explains, although it faces strong competition.
“Since January 2015 we have already seen a faster and smoother turnaround on St Kitts passport applications without any comprising of the due diligence process. The program has a fully online processing platform and an enhanced file submission protocol. However, the citizenship and residency by investment landscape has evolved significantly since 2012 with more choice for second citizenship investors meaning that the market share per country is diluted.
“When second passport programs offer similar benefits, the variable is price and when Dominica citizenship starts from $100,000 for some applicants it is the only amount within reach. So despite the rich and significant legacy of the St Kitts & Nevis citizenship program, the proactive efforts of the St Kitts Dubai consulate’s team since October 2015 as well as endeavours to reinstate the Canada visa-free waiver, my view is that demand will steadily return but not to the levels seen in 2014.”
Even so, the St Kitts & Nevis CIP does offer some benefits that sets it apart from similar programs. “Apart from the aforementioned attributes, St Kitts & Nevis passport holders are also able to acquire additional documentation through our company such as Title Deeds, Tenancy Agreements, Onshore companies, Social Security Cards, Driving Licenses which although necessitating a visit to St Kitts & Nevis, helps our clients to create ties with the country of their second citizenship.”
Dr Timothy Harris has suggested previously CIP nations must stop seeing each other as competitors and should adopt more of a regional approach.
The meeting in Dubai was attended by other top Government representatives from several Caribbean countries with Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs including The Hon Alexandra Otway-Noel MP, Minister of Implementation for Grenada, Josephine Huggins, Cabinet Secretary of St. Kitts & Nevis, Elsa Wilkin-Armbrister, Deputy Consul General of the Consulate of St Kitts & Nevis in Dubai, UAE, and David Holukoff, chairman of the Grenada CBI committee.
For the Government of Grenada, The Honourable Otway-Noel praised her country’s fast growing Grenada CBI Program and its benefits to both the country and citizens alike. She spoke highly of the culturally vibrant community, exceptionally low crime rate, beautiful harbors and beaches and forthcoming real estate projects, all of which underpin Grenada’s strong evolution towards becoming a key Caribbean tourist destination.
Guests at the exclusive invitation-only event heard about new real estate projects from several leading developers from the Caribbean and Europe including Embassy Suites by Hilton St. Kitts – A Pelican Bay Development, Tranquility Beach Dominica by Curio – A collection by Hilton, and the One Tower by Pafilia in Cyprus.
Savory & Partners, a British owned and managed Citizenship and Residency by Investment company headquartered in Dubai, sponsored the event.
The company assists clients to obtain a second passport and residency using the benefit of its experience, service and trust.
Read more at http://www.opp.today/why-2016-is-a-year-of-promise-for-st-kitts-nevis-cip/#gR5TsYtQPKrCSk26.99