CJ Invest, News, Special Reports

More Americans Are Buying Caribbean Passports

By Joe Pike, Special Contributor to CJI

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made Americans look at Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs in a different light.

What was once considered a perk is now being viewed as a means to escape crises, resulting in a recent increase in Americans’ interest in the passport programs, according to a recent study conducted by CS Global Partners, a legal advisory specializing in providing citizenship and residency solutions.

“The months of the pandemic have resulted in increased anxiety across the world, even in developed nations. People started to realize that second citizenship was not a luxury any longer, but a necessity,” said Mohammed Asaria, managing director of Range Developments, an international luxury hospitality development company that develops luxury resorts in the Eastern Caribbean under Citizenship by Investment programs.

“This led to a surging number of citizenship applications for Caribbean islands during recent months and this number is rising across all geographies,” he continued.

According to the study, 2020 recorded a 42 percent incline in interest in such programs from Americans compared to the previous year.

One of the major factors was the COVID-19 pandemic, which prompted many Americans to reconsider their options, particularly about protecting their wealth and planning for the future.

“Since the pandemic, we are living in an uncertain world. As a result, people are wanting and needing a plan B,” said Micha Emmett, CEO of CS Global Partners. “With so many travel restrictions in place, having a second citizenship opens doors for travel and provides you with options for your family.”

In addition, the landscape of U.S. politics and the rise of civil unrest contributed to a surge in Americans seeking shelter abroad, according to the study. But Emmett said the increase isn’t just limited to the U.S. investor.

“We have seen an increase in U.S. investors, but also from across the globe,” she said. “There has been an increase in families investing in real estate and fund options.”

Emmett highlighted Dominica as one of the best islands in the Caribbean that offer a Citizenship by Investment program because it is “an affordable, reliable program with excellent real estate investment opportunities and a focus on sustainability.”

“Dominica, for example, has found this to be a very beneficial option as large international hotel brands, such as Hilton [Hotels and Resorts] and Kempinski [Hotels], have built on the island and shares in these hotels are proving to be popular investments,” she said. 

According to CS Global’s website, the minimum investment in Dominica for an applicant to qualify for the country’s Citizenship by Investment program is $100,000. 

The qualification ensures visa free travel to 140 countries for those that fit the requirements. The processing time for applications is 90 days.

Emmett said St Kitts and Nevis, the world’s oldest and most established program, also represents a great option for U.S. families seeking a second citizenship.

“These two programs have been ranked for four consecutive years as the top two CBI Programs in the world by the CBI Index, a publication by the Financial Times’ Professional Wealth Management magazine,” she said. 

The minimum investment in St. Kitts and Nevis for an applicant to qualify for the country’s Citizenship by Investment program is $150,000, according to CS Global’s website.

st kitts nevis vaccinated travelers
The Park Hyatt St Kitts funded through CBI.

The qualification offers ensures visa free travel to 156 countries for those that fit the requirements. The processing time for accelerated applications is 60 days.

Emmett also told CJI that Grenada is solid investment due to its trusted program with the E-2 visa option.

According to CS Global’s website, the minimum investment in Grenada for an applicant to qualify for the country’s Citizenship by Investment program is $150,000.

Through Grenada’s investment visa program, successful applicants are able to obtain a passport that allows visa-free travel to more than 140 countries and territories, according to the site. The qualification offers visa free travel to 143 countries for those that fit the requirements. The processing time for applications is 90 days.

According to the study, one of the most significant consequences of the pandemic was the United States’ decline in passport power, leaving high net-worth individuals without the ability to travel as freely as they did pre-pandemic.

But those who held second citizenship and passport could enjoy loosened restrictions, continuing to conduct business globally without any major impact.

“In respect of citizenship by investment, the trend used to be for people to buy into real estate projects such as stand-alone villas,” said Emmett. “However, investors often struggled to buy a completed property and so we have seen the shift to people buying into hotel shares as the preferred option.

“This gives the investor more confidence as you can invest in a branded hotel product.”

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