2019

Reading Time: 6 min

Vanuatu or Grenada passport for visa-free travel to the UK: speed as the decisive factor

I wanted my son Ekon to be educated in the UK. Together with my wife Alika, we decided to send him to a private school and submitted documents for consideration.

To freely visit our son in the future, we thought of acquiring Caribbean citizenship by investment. Eventually, our plans changed, and we gave up the option of a Caribbean passport in favour of a faster route.

Bolade

Bolade, 34 years old

Investor from Nigeria

Clients’ names and photos have been changed

Vanuatu citizenship to travel around the world

Vanuatu or Grenada passport for visa-free travel to the UK: speed as the decisive factor

The spouses’ initial plans

Bolade and Alika wanted to give their son Ekon a school education at high British standards. In March 2019, the boy turned 6, so the spouses queued up for admission to a private school in the UK in early May.

The couple expected to receive an answer within a year. Thus, Ekon was supposed to start his studies in September 2020.

The parents understood that they would need a long-term travel document to visit their son often in the UK. In search of an optimal solution, the spouses turned to Immigrant Invest.

Our lawyers studied the family’s situation and advised them to apply for investment citizenship in one of the Caribbean countries or Vanuatu.

All proposed programs require relatively small investments and are several times cheaper than European programs. A passport from any country would allow spouses to spend up to 180 days a year in the UK without a visa.

The Grenada citizenship by investment program seemed attractive to the family for two reasons:

  1. Grenada citizens can visit China without visas. Bolade had business partners in China; about once a year, he flew there for negotiations. Therefore, the Grenada passport would be useful for Bolade.

  2. Grenada’s passport makes it possible to apply for an E‑2 investment visa. Bolade thought about settling in the US in the future.The E‑2 visa allows you to live and conduct business in the US without restrictions on entry and exit. The investor’s family members will also be able to live, work and study in the US.

Both reasons were not decisive for the spouses. Rather, it was an addition to the possibilities compared to the main task of providing the son with a better education.

With our help, Bolade and Alika began preparing to obtain Grenada citizenship by investment. The couple had enough time as the Grenada passport could be obtained in 3—4 months.

New family’s circumstances

For the summer, the family had planned a trip to Europe. In early June 2019, they hit the road with regular Schengen visas. At the time of their departure, they had just begun to collect documents for the Grenada program.

Two weeks after departure from Nigeria, the couple were in France, travelling to the castles of the Loire Valley. At that moment, they unexpectedly received an answer from the private school just 1.5 months later, instead of the planned one-year’s expectation. Someone refused a place, and the spouses had the opportunity to send their son to school a year earlier.

The school management invited Bolade, Alika and Ekon to the UK for an interview. Under the school’s rules, the family must visit the educational institution within 2 months of accepting the invitation. In case of a successful interview, Ekon would go to study in September 2019.

Bolade and Alika were delighted with this opportunity and decided to make every effort to take advantage of it.

Changing the program and Vanuatu passport requirements

Bolade immediately contacted Immigrant Invest: he told us about the changed circumstances and the tight deadlines. We offered the couple to change the program and obtain Vanuatu citizenship, which was possible in 1.5—2 months.

The only investment option under the Vanuatu program was contributing to the National Development Fund. Bolade was quite happy with that option. Moreover, the contribution for his family was $165,000 in Vanuatu instead of $200,000 for a similar option in the Grenada program.

Vanuatu citizenship program conditions

Participants

  • Investor, spouse, children under 25, parents over 50

Investment option

  • $130,000 — a non-refundable contribution to the NDF

Expenses

  • $5,000 — a Due Diligence fee

Timeframe

  • 1—2 months

But the Vanuatu passport does not allow freely entering China and obtaining a business visa to the US.

Bolade reasoned that he did not visit China so often that visa processing would become a problem for him. Plans to bring the business to the American market and move to live in the US were very distant.

Bolade and Alika decided their son’s education was the most important thing. The couple agreed to change the program: they abandoned Grenada in favour of a faster path to Vanuatu passports.

Another benefit was that the family did not have to interrupt their journey across Europe. All missing documents for applying for the Vanuatu program could be collected remotely.

Vanuatu passport by investment

Vanuatu is a country in Oceania made up of 83 islands, of which around 65 are inhabited. Port Vila is the capital of Vanuatu

How the family became Vanuatu citizens: a step-by-step procedure

Preliminary Due Diligence. Before signing the Services Agreement, a qualified Anti Money Laundering Officer conducted a preliminary investigation into Bolade and Alika using international business and legal databases.

The check took a day. The couple had a spotless financial history: they had never been arrested, owed any taxes, or had their visa rejected. Bolade signed an agreement with Immigrant Invest right after receiving the check results.

Collection of documents. Our lawyers helped the couple quickly prepare the documents. They did not have to return to Nigeria. For example, our lawyers received certificates of no criminal records under the accelerated procedure in just 4 days.

Due Diligence. The first program’s phase is the Vanuatu Finance Department (FIU) check. We submitted documents for preliminary Due Diligence 5 days after Bolade’s urgent call. FIU completed the check in 3 days and reported a positive result.

3 days

Preliminary FIU check

Preparation of citizenship application. Bolade needed to confirm his solvency. Under the terms of the Vanuatu program, the investor’s balance must be at least $250,000. Bolade had more than $300,000 in his bank account and easily confirmed the required amount’s availability with a bank statement.

Application. We translated the documents into English and helped the couple fill out government forms, certify and apostille documents. Bolade made a mandatory contribution of 25% of the investment amount, after which we applied for participation in the investment program.

The approval of the application came in 1.5 months, in the first week of August. After that, Bolade contributed the rest of the investment. All that remained was to take the oath and obtain passports.

Bolade paid $86 as the naturalisation certificate fee, including each family member.

Taking oaths. We discussed in advance that the couple would take the opportunity to invite the Consul of Vanuatu to any country convenient for them. By this time, the family was planning to come to Austria, so we agreed to meet in Vienna to take the oath.

6 weeks and $170,387 were spent by Bolade to get Vanuatu passports

1
June 19th, 2022

Bolade and Alika contacted Immigrant Invest

2
+ 1 day

Preliminary Due Diligence

3
+ 4 days

Preparation of documents for FIU

4
+ 3 days

FIU Due Diligence

$5,000

5
+ 2 weeks

Preparation of the remaining documents for the program

6
July 15th, 2022

Application for Vanuatu citizenship

$41,250

7
+ 2 weeks

Citizenship application processing

$301

8
+2 weeks

Contribution of the rest of the investment

$123,750

9
August 12th, 2019

The family took an oath and received Vanuatu passports

$86

Family’s achievements since receiving Vanuatu passports

On August 12th, 2019, the couple took the oath at the Vienna office of Immigrant Invest. The Honorary Consul of Vanuatu was sworn in. In a solemn atmosphere, the Consul presented the new citizens with naturalisation certificates and passports.

The family flew to the UK the next day. Two days after receiving Vanuatu passports, the parents met personally with the school management, and Ekon successfully passed the interview.

As a result, the family had more than 2 weeks left before the start of the school year. Without haste, they got a residence permit for a year for Ekon so the boy could go to school. Bolade and Alika also rented an apartment near the school to visit their son as often as possible.

The Vanuatu citizenship by investment program helped the family to resolve the situation without the time and financial losses. Moreover, the second passport gave Bolade and Alika new opportunities.

New opportunities and Vanuatu citizenship benefits

Before

After

❌ Duty to obtain visas to visit the UK

✅ Visa-free stay in the UK for up to 180 consecutive days

❌ All the savings in Nigerian bank accounts that are subject to strict currency control

✅ Services of European banks

❌ 24% corporate tax in Nigeria

✅ Opportunity to get exemption from corporate tax for 20 years

❌2-year B-1/B-2 visitor visas to the USA

✅ 5-year B-1/B-2 visitor visas to the USA

Alika has been in the UK with a Vanuatu passport for three consecutive months. She often sees her son and takes him to her place for the weekend. She arrives in Nigeria for 1—2 weeks to visit her parents, spouse, and friends and returns to her son in the UK.

Ekon is studying in a closed private school. Bolade regularly flies to them: on weekends and certainly on Christmas and New Year’s.

Bolade plans to visit Vanuatu with his family when Ekon grows up. They want to go diving, admire tropical nature and relax in an exotic corner of the world.

Immigrant Invest is a licensed agent for government programs in the European Union and the Caribbean.

This case was provided by our expert

Lyle Julien
Lyle Julien

Investment programs expert

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