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How to Obtain Citizenship in This Caribbean Country Right Now

By Joe Pike, Special Contributor to CJI

The short answer to why St. Kitts and Nevis’ citizenship by invest program (CIP) has been so popular since its 1984 inception is visa-free travel and a strong reputation.

But there is much more to know about what Jennifer Harding-Marlin, a St. Kitts and Nevis attorney, told Caribbean Journal Invest (CJI) is the oldest and most reliable CIP program in the world.

CJI spoke with Harding-Marlin recently about how people can gain citizenship to St. Kitts and Nevis through investment…and why they should.

Successful applicants under the St Kitts and Nevis Program are registered as citizens of the nation and may apply for a St Kitts and Nevis passport.

Anyone approved has access to the ability to share citizenship with future generations. They also get citizenship for life, with the right to live and work in the country.

Other advantages include visa-free and visa-on-arrival travel to 156 countries and territories and a fair tax regime, with no worldwide income, inheritance and gift tax for tax residents.

There are four ways in which an applicant can apply for citizenship under the St. Kitts and Nevis’ CIP: donating to the country’s Sustainable Growth Fund; investing in pre-approved real estate; by purchasing a private home and by choosing the alternative investment option.

CJI was told the Sustainable Growth Fund is the most direct investment path to St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship. The revenue from the fund is used to support sustainable growth initiatives in the country.

As far CIP donations, perhaps the best deal is for families of up to four, who can currently apply for just a $150,000 donation. Harding-Marlin, however, told CJI that number is expected to go up to about $195,000 in 2022.

“Families should take advantage of the deal now,” she advised.

Under the new alternative investment option, an applicant can place an investment in the escrow account of an approved infrastructural project or other approved development project.

To be approved for use in an application, the project must not raise 100 percent of the capital for the project via CIP; must already have raised a minimum of 30 percent of the capital for the project and must be approved by the St. Kitts Investment Promotion Agency and Cabinet.

The cost of the investment will vary according to whether the project is, eventually, owned by the state, which would be $175,000, or by a private entity, which would cost $200,000.

St. Kitts and Nevis passports are CARICOM passports that are issued to citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis for international travel. They are biometric documents, ensuring a greater level of safety and facilitating cross-border procedures.

St. Kitts and Nevis’ CIP is the only CIP program to offer a guaranteed fast-track route to citizenship, known as the Accelerated Application Process (AAP), said Marlin-Harding. 

Under the AAP, a successful applicant can receive citizenship in as little as 60 days from submission of an application.

While the Citizenship by Investment Unit and the Passport Office work in unison, obtaining citizenship and applying for a passport are two processes.

Ordinary St. Kitts and Nevis passports are valid for 10 years if issued to a person aged 16 or older and are valid for five years for children under the age of 16.

They can be renewed at the Passport Office at the Government Headquarters in Basseterre or at a St. Kitts and Nevis High Commission, Embassy, or Consulate.

Harding-Marlin told CJI both the pandemic and families’ desires to all have the same passport has contributed to huge growth in St. Kitts and Nevis investment.

“We have had a huge jump in applicants for St. Kitts and Nevis [since the pandemic],” she said. “It’s a plan B option. And they want every family member on the same passport. When the wife, the spouse or the kids have different passports, it makes travel more complicated.”

The passport application process is separate from the citizenship by investment process and requires the applicant to present a number of documents, including a certified copy of the applicant’s Certificate of Registration. This is the document issued to an economic citizen at the end of the CIP process.

Every time St. Kitts and Nevis passport holders re-apply for a passport, they must present their old St. Kitts and Nevis passport. This will be canceled upon issuance of the new passport.

When asked why she thought St. Kitts and Nevis’ CIP program was better than any other such program in the region, she pointed to its reputation.

“It’s probably that power of the brand,” she told CJI. “It’s the most recognized and has the highest level of visa-free travels.”

For more, visit JH Marlin.

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