Antigua and Barbuda – Fast becoming the CIP jurisdiction of choice

(Tuesday, 13th November 2018)

In an age of an increasing need for mobility, becoming a global citizen has never been more desirable.

Despite being a relatively new entrant in the alternative citizenship space, Antigua and Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) is already proving very popular with investors. Speedy processing and the quality of real estate offerings, give the programme a serious competitive advantage.

The independent Commonwealth state, located in the Eastern Caribbean, is a lush green paradise that boasts 365 white sand beaches with clear, turquoise waters. Home to over 90,000 people, the twin-island nation is considered to be one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Historically, as a result of tourism and real estate, the country has experienced continuous growth in foreign direct investment. However, more recently, financial services, tertiary education and e-commerce have become significant contributors. Bolstered by generous Government incentives, foreign investment has contributed to the rapid development of the economy, resulting in the country having one of the highest GDP per capita in the sub-region.

Along with seven other states, Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU), a development of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), using the Eastern Caribbean dollar as its currency. The Eastern Caribbean dollar has been pegged to the United States dollar for the last forty years, contributing to long-term financial stability.

The Government of Antigua and Barbuda has set a clear goal for the country to become, according to its Prime Minister, the Honourable Gaston Browne, “‘the economic powerhouse’ of the Eastern Caribbean” and sees its CIP as one of the key drivers that will lead to the realisation of this ambition.

Launched in 2013, the programme is managed by a dedicated Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU), a team of professionals responsible for processing applications and for recommending the approval of real estate and business investment options. The ultimate responsibility for the program rests with the Office of the Prime Minister.

According to the CIU’s chief executive officer, Mrs Charmaine Donovan, one of the main factors that contribute to the rapid success of the programme is its highly competent staff.

“The Unit is staffed by a team of 17 home-grown and highly competent individuals hailing mainly from the private sector. A number of us are members of professional associations which require us to maintain high ethical standards in the performance of our duties. We are all Antiguans and Barbudans and therefore perform our duties with pride and diligence since any fall out from this programme affects US as it does the rest of the country. We therefore rigorously manage the application process from beginning to end.”

In addition to its existing marketing efforts, the Unit is now offering a commission to all authorised representatives/suppliers.

The programme provides three options.

1. Contribution to the National Development Fund (NDF)

A. For a single applicant, or a family of 4 or less
• US$100,000 contribution
Processing fees: US$25,000
B. Family of 5 or more:-
• US$125,000 Contribution
Processing Fees: US$15,000 for each additional dependent

2. Real estate investments

For a single applicant, or a family of 4 or less:
• Processing fees: US$50,000
For a family of 5 or more:
• Processing Fees: US$15,000 for each additional dependent

Until 31st October 2019, Two applications from related parties can make a joint investment, with each applicant investing a minimum of US$200,000 in order to qualify. All processing and due diligence fees remain unchanged.

In addition, two or more applicants who have executed a binding sale and purchase agreement may apply jointly for citizenship by investment provided that each applicant contributes the minimum investment of US$400,000.

3. Investment in business

The two business investment options are:

• Where a person proposes to make an investment in an approved business of at least US$1,500,000 on their own behalf.

• At least two persons propose to make a joint investment in such an approved business totalling at least US$5,000,000, and each of those persons individually propose to contribute at least US$400,000 to the joint investment an application or application for Citizenship by Investment may be submitted on his, her or their behalf through an agent.

At its meeting of 6th September 2018, the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda agreed to the creation of a fourth investment option under the Citizenship by Investment Programme. The University of the West Indies Fund option will be a mechanism for financing UWI’s fourth landed campus.

Features of this option:

• Applicants to the Citizenship by Investment Programme who choose this option will be required to make an investment of US$150,000 for a family of four or more (i.e. minimum number of persons per application is four).

• Participation in the option will entitle one member of the family to a one year, tuition only, scholarship at the University of the West Indies.

The CIU has afforded new citizens the opportunity to add dependants after approval. There is also a no-HIV test requirement for minors under 11.

Antigua and Barbuda was the first Caribbean nation to permit investment in approved businesses, an innovation that other jurisdictions are now copying.

In addition to visa-free travel to 150 countries, including the United Kingdom, and the European Union’s Schengen area states, CIP-eligible investors have the right to reside permanently on the islands. The recent elimination of personal income tax makes it even more attractive.

Applicants must be 18 and above and submit to a rigorous due diligence process. The only residency stipulation is that new citizens spend at least five days on Antigua or Barbuda in the five years following the granting of citizenship.

Regarding due diligence and transparency, Donovan says a decision is reached on applicants only after the full analysis is completed.

“All of the Unit’s international partners are involved in the entire process”.

Benefits

• Visa free access to 150 countries, including United Kingdom and Schengen area
• Decision rendered in 60-90 days on most files
• No restrictions on dual nationality
• Citizenship for life, once residency requirement is met
• Straightforward application process, no minimum net worth requirement or previous business experience
• No tax on worldwide income, inheritance, capital gains or investment returns
• History of a stable currency US$1 = EC$2.70 (XCD) since 1976
• Antigua and Barbuda is a stable ‘Westminster’ style democracy
• Well-established legal and regulatory framework, supporting civil and commercial relationships
• Well-educated workforce, skills and abilities for modern workplace
• Active and committed member of the International community

With its efficient processing, rigorous due diligence, wide choice of investment options and the sheer physical attraction of the islands, the Antigua and Barbuda CIP is fast becoming a jurisdiction of choice.

For more information visit www.cip.gov.ag

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