The latest news from Saint Lucia suggests that the local citizenship-by-investment program is gaining in popularity. Let us discuss why the program is so attractive for Americans, point out its fundamental advantages and talk about a tempting limited-time offer. We will also describe the geography of the demand for Saint Lucian citizenship and the methods of acquiring the passport of the country.
Those who are fond of crossword puzzles and well-read people probably know that two countries have been named after women: Ireland in Europe and Saint Lucia in the Caribbean. The story goes that French sailors were shipwrecked on December 13 – on Saint Lucia day. They were so happy to survive that they named the island after the Catholic saint.
The island state is a popular tourist destination in the modern world with visitors from all parts of the globe marveling in its natural beauties. The wealthier individuals also have a chance to acquire foreign citizenship by investment if they put a certain amount of money into the Saint Lucian economy.
What is so attractive about Saint Lucia for Americans and citizens of other countries? How can you acquire a Caribbean passport? How much would it cost? Please read on to find the answers to these and other related questions.
Four ways to acquire citizenship of Saint Lucia for Americans
The Saint Lucia economic citizenship program has to face serious competition. Four more countries in the Caribbean basin offer similar opportunities to foreigners. Besides, there are citizenship-by-investment programs in other regions of the world too. The Saint Lucian program stands out due to the diversity of investment options, in the first place. Any of the following routes will lead you to citizenship of Saint Lucia:
- A donation to the National Economic Fund of US$ 100,000. This is a non-returnable donation. The Government of Saint Lucia uses the donations to support various spheres of economy such as healthcare, education, alternative energy sources, and infrastructure.
- An investment in real estate in the country of at least US$ 300,000. An American investor can purchase property only if it is part of a Government-approved development complex (a hotel or a luxury resort). This is a returnable investment as the proprietor can sell the apartment or villa back after five years of ownership. The investor is free to let the property on a lease. The expected income is 2% to 5% per year.
- Purchase of state bonds for at least US$ 500,000. The bonds are interest-free. They can be sold back after five years of ownership. The local Government guarantees the buyback.
- An investment into a business venture in Saint Lucia of US$ 3,500,000 (individual investment) or US$ 1,000,000 (collective investment). The business ownership share shall remain in the investor possession for five years. When this period expires, the business can be sold.
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According to the official statistics, a donation to the National Economic Fund is the most popular route to Saint Lucian citizenship among Americans and other nationalities.
Citizenship of Saint Lucia by investment is available to single applicants and families. In the case of family application, one person acts as the main applicant while other persons act as dependent family members. The requirements that the main applicant has to meet are as follows:
- He/ she has to be of age (over 18);
- He/ she has to be able to make the donation/ investment in the required amount depending on the chosen investment option;
- He/ she has to be able to pass the due diligence checks (this applies to all family members above 16 if there are any);
- He/ she has to be able to cover the administrative costs (application processing, due diligence procedure, passport issuance, etc.).
The following relatives can be included in the application for citizenship of Saint Lucia as dependent family members:
- The main applicant’s spouse;
- Children of up to 21 years of age;
- Children of up to 30 years of age if they are financially dependent on the main applicant;
- Children of any age if they have any kind of disabilities and are financially dependent on the main applicant;
- Main applicant/ main applicant spouse’s parents if they are over 50 years of age and financially dependent on the main applicant/ spouse;
- Main applicant/ main applicant spouse’s parents of any age if they have any kind of disabilities and are financially dependent on the main applicant/ spouse;
- Unmarried brothers and sisters of the main applicant/ main applicant’s spouse (with parents / guardians’ consent).
American investors cannot file applications for Saint Lucian citizenship directly to the authorities of the country. Every candidate for citizenship has to use the services of a licensed immigration agent who will act on his/ her behalf when filing the application. The list of licensed immigration agents is updated on a regular basis.
Please apply for our assistance in hiring the best immigration agent in Saint Lucia!
Citizenship of Saint Lucia for Americans: a limited time discount offer
Saint Lucia is one of few countries that offers an opportunity to obtain its citizenship by investing into state Government bonds. Many experts believe that this is an extremely attractive investment option for Americans as the authorities of Saint Lucia guarantee the return of the investment. Recently, however, this option has become even more attractive.
In May 2020, the Saint Lucian Government decided to make a limited-time offer to foreign investors: Americans and other nationalities can make an investment of US$ 250,000 in the so-called ‘COVID’ bonds and this will make them qualified for citizenship of Saint Lucia. The investments made into COVID bonds will be used to annihilate the consequences of the pandemic in the country.
This is a 50% discount on the investment amount. However, the offer is in place only until December 31, 2021. After that the ‘window of opportunities’ is going to close!
The bond ownership period is different from the standard one. The Saint Lucian Government issues 5/6/7-year zero-interest COVID bonds. The required investment amount depends on the ownership period (the sooner you want to sell the bonds back, the more you have to invest) as well as on the type of application for citizenship (individual/ family).
The bonds are issued in accordance with the National Savings Bonds Law and parliamentary Decree № 110 from June 6, 2020. These pieces of legislation authorize the Finance Minister to issue bonds in order to gain capital for national needs. The table below describes the conditions under which Americans can invest in Saint Lucian COVID bonds until the end of this year:
|Name||Zero-interest state bonds of Saint Lucia|
|Face value||US$ 250,000 / US$ 300,000|
|Possession period, years||5, 6, 7|
|Goal||2020/2021 state debt refunding|
|Date if issue||May 12, 2020|
|Redemption date||2025 (5-year bond), 2026 (6- year bond), 2027 (7- year bond). The exact date is defined with the view of the date of purchase.|
|Emitter and address||The Government of Saint Lucia acting through the Financial Administration Center, a division of the Ministry of Finance, economic development, employment, state service, and foreign affairs.|
|Currency||US dollars (unless otherwise indicated).|
In addition to the investment in bonds, foreign nationals applying for citizenship of Saint Lucia will have to pay the state duty of US$ 30,000 (compared to the standard US$ 50,000) for bond issuance. The application processing fee is waived but the candidate for citizenship has to cover the costs of the due diligence procedures anyway.
Let us consider an example of a single American applicant applying for citizenship of Saint Lucia by investment into COVID bonds. He or she will have to invest US$ 287,500 (plus the immigration agent’s service fee) of which US$ 250,000 is the returnable investment in the bonds. Thus, the American citizen can ‘purchase’ a foreign passport for US$ 37,500 (plus the immigration agent’s service fee) only.
|Number of applicants investing in COVID bonds||Investment minimum||Possession period, years|
|Single applicant||US$ 250,000||5|
|Married couple||US$ 250,000 (or) US$ 300,000||6(or)5|
|Family of five members||US$ 300,000||7|
|Additional dependent family members||+ US$ 15,000 each||5+|
Advantages and disadvantages of the Saint Lucian discount offer for Americans
The limited-time offer that the Saint Lucian authorities make to Americans and other foreign investors wishing to obtain passports of the country is certainly one of the most attractive offers on the market However, you have to weigh all pros and cons when deliberating in investment in COVID bonds.
Advantages of investing in Saint Lucia Government bonds to qualify for citizenship of the country
- This is going to be a donation that you can return after five, six, or seven years, which is not the case with the donation.
- This is the most economical way of acquiring foreign citizenship if you are prepared to ‘freeze’ the investment amount for the required period of bond holding.
- The return of the investment is guaranteed by the Saint Lucian Government.
- Transactions in securities are not taxable.
- When purchasing Saint Lucian Government bonds, the American investor has to make the payment (transfer money from his/ her bank account to the Saint Lucian Government’s bank account) only after the application for citizenship has been approved by the immigration authorities of the country. The application processing takes about three months.
- You have to invest additional money if you are applying for citizenship of Saint Lucia with a large family, but the whole sum is returnable anyway (what you cannot return is the state duties and immigration agent’s fees).
- The American investor is going to obtain a lifetime citizenship of Saint Lucia in exchange for an investment in state bonds. When the bond holding period is over and the bonds are redeemed, the investor gets to keep the passport of Saint Lucia.
Disadvantages of investing in Saint Lucia Government bonds to qualify for citizenship of the country
This investment option has certain disadvantages too. For instance, no interest is paid on the bonds, which means that you are going to lose some money over time. The main disadvantage, however, is associated with the risk of default on sovereign debt. The risk is even higher under the present unstable conditions.
A default on sovereign debt means that the Government of the country is unable to pay its debts. It is similar to a business company going bankrupt. A number of countries have declared defaults on sovereign debts. National states unable to pay the state debts have to face a severe decrease in their credit ratings and take loans from international organizations (such as the WMF, for instance) at a high interest.
According to the Fitch agency data, 14 countries have declared defaults 23 times in total from the middle of the 1990s. Spain has declared a default six times in history. Other countries including Russia, Lebanon, and Venezuela have done so too. Quite recently, in 2015, Greece declared a default as it was unable to pay 1.7 billion euros back to the WMF.
IN the worst-case scenario, the default on sovereign debt will affect both citizens of the country and foreign investors. All of them risk losing the money that they have lent to the state. The following three types of economic disaster can happen:
- Bank crisis: banks will have to write off the loans given to the state;
- Economic crisis: the domestic demand will fall and the investors will draw their money back;
- Currency crisis: foreign investors will stop investing into the country’s economy.
As far as Saint Lucia is concerned, the state debt to GDP ratio was 82% in 2020. According to the official data, the state debt amounted to 3.362 billion dollars as of the end of June, 2020.
This said, however, the Saint Lucian Government has never declared a default on sovereign debt unlike some other countries of the world. This gives hope to American investors in Saint Lucian citizenship.
Candidates for citizenship of Saint Lucia should make their own assessments of the risks involved in investing in Government bonds. The information above is of a general character and it is not an investment recommendation.
Demand statistics: How popular is Saint Lucian citizenship with Americans and other nationalities?
In July 2021, the Saint Lucian Government published the latest report on the local investment immigration program. The report shows the geography of the demand for the Saint Lucian passport and other important details. The report is based on the statistical data from the 2019/2020 financial year.
Saint Lucia welcomed 188 new citizens in the period under review (this is the number of naturalized foreigners.) 193 applications for citizenship were submitted in the 2019/2020 financial year. This is a 26.97% increase in the number of applicants in comparison to the previous year. However, the immigration authorities were able to process only 143 applications, which is less than over the previous 12-month period by 31.9%). 13 applications were rejected.
As we have noted above, the non-returnable donation is the most popular route to Saint Lucian citizenship. In the period under review, 126 of 143 successful candidates for citizenship of the country chose to make donations. According to the report, the donations made up half of the total income to the state budget. Their contribution in the previous year amounted to 73%.
The Chinese constitute the largest group of new citizens of Saint Lucia: their number exceeds one hundred. Thirty Americans hold Saint Lucian passports at the moment but this number is likely to increase soon. Many U.S. citizens are not quite happy with the current administration and the new taxes on the wealthy. As a consequence, the popularity of foreign citizenship-by-investment programs is growing in America as more and more people invest in second passports.
We must note that in 2017 and 2018, the immigration authorities of Saint Lucia were rather slow at processing the applications for citizenship. Some applicants had to wait for nine months before their applications were processed. This should not be very surprising, however, as the Saint Lucian citizenship-by-investment program was launched only in 2015 and the first passports were issued to foreigners in 2016.
The situation changed for the better in 2020. According to the Investment Migration Executive Survey, a large number of immigration firms consider the Saint Lucian program efficient as far as application processing is concerned. The immigration authorities have learnt their lessons and managed to lessen the application processing time. Now the applications for citizenship are processed within 56 days on average in Saint Lucia.
Citizenship of Saint Lucia: Advantages for Americans
Saint Lucia is a paradise island in terms of its natural beauties. Tropical forests, sandy beaches, mountain lakes and waterfalls make every visitor to the country fall in love with it. There you feel totally relaxed and away from all the stressful things in life. Simply imagine lying on a Caribbean beach staring in the blue sky and splashing in the turquoise water! What is more, you can do it all year round while in Saint Lucia!
The country is located close to the equator and it has a comfortable tropical climate. The rain season lasts from the beginning of June to the end of November and the dry season lasts from the beginning of December to the end of May. The temperature is very much the same throughout the year: it is about 30 ° C (86 ° F) in the daytime and about 24 ° C (75.2 ° F) at night.
Americans are welcomed in Saint Lucia
The Saint Lucian Government does not welcome citizens of Iran to apply for its passports as Iran is under international sanctions. Citizens of all other national states, including Americans, are most welcome to apply for citizenship of Saint Lucia.
Saint Lucia does not put a heavy fiscal burden on its legal and tax residents. Non-tax residents (natural persons) pay taxes only on the income earned on the territory of the country. Resident companies are not taxed on the income derived from business operations abroad either. There is no wealth nor inheritance tax in Saint Lucia.
Real estate in Saint Lucia
The Saint Lucian real estate market is growing as more cruise ships make stops at the island and the tourist sector is actively developing. If you buy a piece of real property in the country, you will qualify for a legal residence permit. This option is rather popular with foreign retirees. If you invest US$ 300,000 in a Government-approved development project, you will qualify for full citizenship of Saint Lucia. Currently, there are two such development projects: the Alpina hotel and the Canelles resort complex. You are free to let this property on a lease and sell it back after five years while keeping the Saint Lucian passport.
A developing country
The UN classifies Saint Lucia as a developing insular state. The largest part (over 80%) of the GDP is generated by the service sector that includes tourism and financial services. The rest comes from the industrial and the agricultural sectors of economy. Bananas are the main exported fruit. In addition, coconuts, cacao, species, and citrus fruits grow on the island. Exported goods also include clothes, cardboard boxes, electrical appliances, beer, tobacco, concrete blocks, and household goods made of coconuts.
Religions and languages
It will probably be pleasing for Americans to know that the largest religious group in Saint Lucia are Christians. 61.5% of the population are Catholics, while 25.5% are Protestants. At the same time, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and other religions are also practiced on the island. The official language in Saint Lucia is English even though 95% of the population use a French Creole dialect (patois in French) in everyday communication.
A stable currency
The East Caribbean dollar is the official currency in Saint Lucia and it is pegged to the US dollar. This fact prevents fluctuations of the local currency, which is good news already. Moreover, US dollars are in a free circulation on the island so you will not have to exchange money.
A strong second passport
The passport of Saint Lucia gives visa-free access to a large number of national states. What is more valuable for American in particular, however, is that they can use the passport when dealing with international banks. Bankers in foreign countries are reluctant to deal with American citizens because this would mean too much reporting to the US fiscal authorities. On the other hand, international bankers are friendlier to the holders of Caribbean passports.
Expert support in acquiring citizenship of Saint Lucia by investment
If you would like to learn more about the Saint Lucian citizenship-by-investment program and other second passport opportunities, please contact InternationalWealth experts. We will do our best to help you acquire foreign citizenship in the smoothest way possible.
Please contact us by email, our online chat, or messenger. We always respond promptly!
How long does it take to acquire citizenship of Saint Lucia?
The application processing will take about three months unless the immigration authorities want you to supply some additional documents. However, you have to take into account the time required for preparing the application documents and hiring an immigration agent. If you are planning to invest into real estate in Saint Lucia, the period will be extended even more for obvious reasons. No foreign passport can be obtained in an instant.
What advantages does citizenship of Saint Lucia bring?
For the American investor, the opportunity to use international banking services with the Saint Lucian passport should probably be the most valuable one. Besides, living on a tropical island is great fun too!
What investment options do I have when applying for economic citizenship of Saint Lucia?
At the moment, the following investment options are available: purchase of COVID bonds (limited-time offer), donation to the National Economic Fund, investment in real estate, and investment in a business venture in the country.