by CS Global Partners
Since 1984, the Federation of St Kitts and Nevis, a small dual-island nation in the Caribbean, has been operating the oldest Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme in the world. It is now commonly known as the Platinum Standard of CBI.
Over three decades later, St Kitts and Nevis’ Programme remains one of the most sought-after in the world, even in light of a global pandemic, if not more so. The government had the foresight to accurately estimate what investors may look for during these unprecedented times.
While no other country can compete with the longevity of St Kitts and Nevis’ CBI Programme, there are four lessons to be drawn from its unrivalled experience: adapt quickly, maintain solid due diligence, be straightforward, and do good.
Early on, before most countries even started imposing lockdowns and shutting their borders, St Kitts and Nevis decided to accept CBI applications submitted through its online system. Several CBI countries followed suit. St Kitts and Nevis was one of the last nations to be affected by COVID-19. The government acted swiftly to minimise its health and economic impact, registering only 17 cases and no related deaths (as of August 17th, 2020).
A second major change to the CBI Programme came in July, when the Citizenship by Investment Unit announced a new, limited-time offer whereby families of up to four can obtain citizenship for a contribution of US$150,000 to the Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF), instead of the previous US$195,000. Valid only through the fund option, the offer runs until January 15th, 2021.
Excel at Due Diligence
According to the latest CBI Index, published by the Financial Times’ Professional Wealth Management magazine, one of the reasons St Kitts and Nevis excels in the economic citizenship industry is its attention to due diligence. The islands’ vetting procedures received full scores in the independent study. Even the provisions for online submission of CBI applications did not tamper with St Kitts and Nevis’ strict security checks.
“Our due diligence is one of the best in the world,” said Prime Minster Timothy Harris. “It is multi-layered and multifaceted, using international firms and agencies. We do not accept applicants from states labelled as uncooperative in the fight against terrorism or considered to be rogue nations.”
For decades, foreign investors and their families have been choosing St Kitts and Nevis’ CBI Programme for its unrivalled experience and longevity. Besides the optimal price in light of the new limited-time offer, the Sustainable Growth Fund remains the most straightforward route for investors and families to acquire second citizenship, whereas locals benefit from the generated funds through various socio-economic initiatives.
Investors prefer St Kitts and Nevis’ Programme because it offers unique benefits and has stood the test of time, demonstrating that it is reliable, efficient and rewarding. The distinctive Accelerated Application Process (AAP), for example, allows eligible applicants to receive their citizenship and accompanying passports – a separate procedure – within 60 days, without compromising on the quality of the checks. In normal times, this enables successful investors to travel visa-free or with a visa-on-arrival to over 150 destinations across the globe.
Successful applicants can also benefit from a number of opportunities, including diversified business prospects, access to better education and healthcare for their children and, importantly, the chance to pass the citizenship down, securing the future of many generations to come.
Revenue generated from the CBI Programme aims to sponsor key public and private sectors, such as education, healthcare, sustainable growth policies, tourism and infrastructural development.
For example, last year, a new cruise pier was completed at Port Zante in St Kitts. The US$48-million project was financed via four local sources, of which US$5 million came from CBI. In December, St Kitts welcomed the first ever Coral Princess cruise ship to reach its shores, with 2,000 passengers on board. Shortly after, four cruise ships berthed simultaneously at Port Zante, for the first time ever, with a combined maximum capacity of over 12,000 guests. While the benefit to the tourism sector is yet to be fully felt, investing in long-term, sustainable projects is ultimately why the CBI fund option exists.
The CBI Programme also financially supported the construction of an international athletic track in Nevis, helped pay off the IMF debt, and sponsored the Skills Training Empowerment Programme. CBI also fully funds the Poverty Alleviation Programme that provides around 7% of the population with a monthly stipend for household expenses.
While no one could have prepared the world for what 2020 was to bring, it pays off to have had a head start in fiscal terms. The year 2019 ended on an overall positive note for St Kitts and Nevis. The twin islands had registered their fifth consecutive year of economic growth, had established diplomatic relations with even more countries and featured comfortably in the world’s top 30 countries for rule of law. St Kitts and Nevis also demonstrated sound industry acumen and, time and time again, was able to make the right decisions at the right time.