In an age of 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 Program (CIP) is already proving very popular with investors. Speedy processing and the quality of real estate offerings, give the Program 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 Organization 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 Honorable Gaston Browne, “‘the economic powerhouse’ of the Eastern Caribbean” and sees its CIP as one of the key drivers that will lead to the realization of this ambition.
Launched in 2013, the Program 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 Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO), Thomas Anthony, there are a few factors that contribute to the rapid success of the Program.
“Our productivity and fast turnaround time of about 60 days,” he says, “is due to our highly competent staff, comprising mostly private sector individuals. That meant we quickly became one of, if not the most efficient Unit in the region, surpassing countries that had been in the industry for far longer or just prior to our entry.”
“Secondly,” Anthony states, “the fact that Antigua and Barbuda has had a strong presence in the high-end tourism sector for more than four decades and already had certain infrastructure in place, the country quickly became an attractive place for those seeking to invest in real estate and business.”
“Thirdly,” he adds, “we had the opportunity to learn from the already established programs and model our real estate offerings and escrow arrangements accordingly. In order to give investors the confidence that developers will deliver on their promise, the Unit exerts some control over the management of the escrow accounts.”
“Lastly,” Anthony states, “we have been very visible in the international community by attending and presenting at various industry conferences and having a presence in high-quality publications such as this one.
This visibility,” he adds, “along with the culture of efficiency, a robust due diligence process, transparency and accountability of our Program made Henley & Partners and Arton Capital quickly brand Antigua and Barbuda as the number one program in the region. Henley & Partners went a step further and ranked us third globally.” In addition to its existing marketing efforts, the Unit is now offering a commission to all Authorized Representatives/Suppliers. Antigua and Barbuda has earned over $100 million from the program and has conferred citizenship on 1,000 new citizens.
The Program provides three options.
- Contribution to the National Development Fund (NDF)
- For a single applicant, or a family of 4 or less
- US$200,000 Contribution and processing fees of:
- Main applicant US$50,000
- Spouse US$50,000
Up to two dependants pay no processing fees
- Family of 5 or more:
- US$250,000 Contribution and processing fees
- Main applicant US$50,000
- Spouse US$50,000
Up to three dependants pay no processing fees
- Real Estate Investments
US$400,000 investment minimum – in an approved project (must be owned for at least 5 years)
- Investment in Business
- Single investor US$1.5M
- Two or more investors US$5M (each at least US$400,000)
Iranian applicants should note that it is necessary that they satisfy the following requirements:
- Have permanent resident status or other long term visa in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States or a jurisdiction with which Antigua and Barbuda has visa free entry arrangements.
- Have resided outside of Iran for at least three (3) years prior to the application for citizenship by investment.
- Demonstrate that the funds to be invested in Antigua and Barbuda were substantially earned outside of Iran.
The CIU has afforded new citizens the opportunity to add dependents 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 134 countries, including Canada, 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, Anthony says the CIU understands that new citizens will be allowed visa free entry to 134 countries.
“It is a responsibility that we take very seriously and all our international partners are involved in the entire process.”
- Visa free access to 134 countries, including Canada, 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 work force, skills and abilities for modern work place
- 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 Alternatively, pick up a copy of the new publication The Citizen, which aims to provide readers with all of the information needed regarding the program.