The launch of citizenship for investment programmes is being discussed in Tuvalu, Samoa, Palau, Micronesia, Tonga, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands.
No cases of COVID-19 were reported in these countries – they closed borders early in the pandemic. Programs are expected to provide investors with security if similar situations occur in the future.
The main advantage of the passports of these countries is the availability of popular visa-free destinations. A citizen of any of 8 countries can:
- without a visa to stay in the UK for 180 consecutive days;
- Visit the Schengen area without a visa and stay there for 90 days for 180 days.
Tonga passport entitles you to enter China visa-free for 30 consecutive days.
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For the sake of these opportunities, investors are now acquiring citizenship in Vanuatu and the Caribbean countries. These programmes have evolved over the years and can therefore guide new programmes. Of course, given the comparable economic conditions in the countries.
Vanuatu program parameters
Vanuatu is in the same region as the 8 initiating countries. First and foremost, the success of Vanuatu’s programme during the crisis prompted the Governments of Tuvalu, Samoa, Palau, Micronesia, Tonga, Kiribati, Marshall Islands and Solomon Islands to consider launching investment programmes.
Vanuatu’s citizenship programme was launched in 2014. Between 2014 and 2019, investors received 6,500 passports and brought about $279 million to the country.
Vanuatu passport allows travel without visas to 130 countries around the world, including the UK and Schengen countries. To get it, you need to make a non-refundable subsidy of $130 thousand. The program is notable for its rapid processing of documents – investors receive passports on average for 2 months.
Existing Caribbean citizenship programmes
There are citizenship investment programmes in the Caribbean: Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Grenada and Dominica. These countries’ passports allow visa-free travel to the Schengen area and the United Kingdom. Grenada nationals can travel to China and obtain E-2 visas to the USA.
The practice of providing passports for investment appeared in the Caribbean back in the 20th century. Saint Kitts and Nevis was the first to launch its program in 1984. Since then, 16,000 applicants have received passports under it.
Each of the listed Caribbean countries has 2 options:
- non-refundable subsidy to the state fund,
- purchase of a share in a government-approved property.
Some states have additional investment options. Thus, Saint Lucia offers to purchase government bonds, and Antigua and Barbuda offers to invest in the fund of the University of the West Indies. Both countries have options to invest in business.
The cost of passports of the Caribbean countries starts from $100 thousand for the main applicant. Registration of citizenship lasts from 2 to 6 months.
Prospects 一 8 new programs
If 8 new programs with similar parameters appear in 2021-2022, the competition will intensify. It is possible that the result will make the conditions for investors even more attractive. Wealthy people will have a wider choice.
Earlier we spoke about the results of competition between residence permit programs for investment. The demand for Latvian gold visas has fallen to almost 0 – they do not withstand competition with the offers of Portugal, Greece and Spain. These countries are constantly improving their programs, for example, Portugal has recently simplified citizenship registration for children and extended the validity of residence permit cards.