While the world experiences months of global lock down because of the Covid-19 pandemic, increasingly people are becoming aware of the value of having a second passport to access the safety of a back-up country and to be more able to travel freely worldwide. Such an option is offered by a growing number of countries through their citizenship or residency by investment programs. Some countries require a low investment amount, but offer only a residence permit. Others offer full citizenship, but the amount of the financial contribution required is higher – sometimes very high. Other considerations come into play, such as processing times, climate, social safety, economic stability as well as a good healthcare system. These considerations are no less important than the investment itself, ease of relocation, or both. One might wonder, whether there is a country where, as best can be expected, all of the above mentioned considerations are presented in a positive way. The good news is that such country does exist, and its name is St. Kitts and Nevis.
The Two Island Gem
The two islands country, once mostly a sugar farming area, transformed itself into a safe and desirable tourist, and now citizenship, destination. St Kitts and Nevis with its sunny and sandy beaches, good health care, low crime rate as well as good national infrastructure, has turned into one of the fastest growing economies in the Caribbean.
The country has warmly welcomed investor migrants for decades now, running the longest and one of the best managed Citizenship by Investment Programs (CBI) in the world since 1984. Their program is recognized as the “platinum standard brand” in the global marketplace of citizenship by investment programs. Investors are walked through an accelerated application process that enables the granting of full citizenship in just 60 days in most cases. No other country has such a good expedited feature in their citizenship by investment program.
Passport to Freedom
Once the relevant financial contribution is made, the investor and his/her family are granted nationality and issued internationally reputable passports giving their bearers freedom of international mobility with visa-free access to 156 countries out of the 199 possible countries in the world. These 156 visa-free destinations include the European Union as well as the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Russia and practically all of South America.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), Arton Capital, as well as Henley and Partners, in their regular updates of global ranking of all the passports and national visa requirements, put the St. Kitts and Nevis passport ahead of all the others in the Caribbean and Central America with the one exception of Barbados, which does not have a Citizenship by Investment Program. Speaking about this ranking, St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship Investment Unit chief executive Les Khan recently said: “This prestigious, independent, global ranking shows that the St. Kitts and Nevis passport is the undisputed best among all Caribbean countries with citizenship-by-investment programs.”
Top location for business operation
In addition to its great passport, St. Kitts and Nevis offers its investor migrants great offshore banking and a wide variety of insurance services in a tax-friendly environment. For example, the country guarantees financial privacy by not making public any information about owners and top managers of offshore businesses located there. St. Kitts and Nevis requires only one director and one shareholder in order to incorporate, and that same person can hold the two mentioned positions. A trust in the country is exempt from taxation on any foreign income. The two island country has refused signing any tax treaties with other countries to avoid such disclosure issues.
Apply and Enjoy
As already mentioned earlier, St Kitts and Nevis makes the whole citizenship application process for migrant investors fast and painless. Once investment is made and the citizenship application is submitted, the dark blue passport books with traditional golden letters on them are issued to the new citizens within about 60 days.
At the moment, investors have two financial contribution options in the St. Kitts and Nevis economy:
1. Real estate investment in a pre-approved project such as purchasing hotel shares, villas or condominium units.
a. The investment of $200,000 U.S., for a minimum 7 years, or $400,000 U.S., for a minimum 5 years after the purchase was made.
b. Upon submission, non-refundable due diligence and processing fees apply: $7,500 U.S. paid by the main applicant and $4,000 U.S. paid by each dependent of the main applicant who is over 16 years old.
c. The purchase cost does not include a reasonable compulsory insurance fund contribution and conveyance fees.
d. St. Kitts and Nevis is the only country in the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (O.E.C.S.) with five branded hotels: the Marriott Hotel and Residences, the Park Hyatt, the Koi, the Ramada Hotel and Resorts, and the Four Seasons. Additionally, Pirates Bay by the Wyndham Hotels and Resorts is located there as well.
2. Investment in the Sustainable Growth Fund Contribution (SGF).
a. A single applicant must contribute a non refundable $150,000 U.S.
b. An applicant with three dependents including a spouse and 2 children, normally, must contribute a non refundable $195,000 U.S., but during the pandemic, the amount was reduced to $150,000 U.S. as a limited time offer expiring on January 15, 2021.
c. For any additional dependent, apart from the first three, regardless of the age, $10,000 U.S. must be added to the cost.
d. Upon submission of the paperwork for citizenship by investment, non-refundable due diligence and processing fees in the amount of $7,500 U.S. for the main applicant and $4,000 U.S. for each dependent over 16 years old also have to be paid.
Some Unique Elements
A recent article highlighted how St.Kitts and Nevis is attracting crypto investors who maybe considering renunciation of U.S. citizenship to avoid taxation or who like St. Kitts and Nevis because it has no income, wealth, estate or inheritance taxes. What is more, no residency or visit to St Kitts is needed to qualify for the passport. It is one of the cheapest programs to gain second citizenship for Americans. It is fast to get, and dependents under the age of 30 can be added to the application, as can parents and grandparents over the age of 55.
Investing in Saint Kitts and Nevis clearly opens up some great opportunities. Holding a passport of that developed Caribbean nation allows one to enjoy all the benefits given by the government to locals whether inside or outside the country. It also presents a great Plan B, in case of an emergency.
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