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Why Apply for a Second Passport in the Caribbean?

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, many people did not even stop to think about the benefits of citizenship by investment. The second passport was in high demand in the business segment where it was used for tax optimization, traveling, and purchasing real estate. As for the ordinary people, they shrugged their shoulders when asked about CBI programs.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic began and suddenly made it clear that the fact of possessing only one passport can affect the life of an ordinary person much more than it did before February 2020. The coronavirus restrictions began to be actively imposed in early 2020, and unfortunately, this trend persisted for quite a long time. Travel restrictions became less stringent in the spring-summer of 2022, but they are far from being completely abolished.

COVID and second citizenship

Let’s give two typical examples of what happened after the limitations were imposed. 

  • At the very start of 2020, a US passport holder could enter any of 171 countries without a visa. Just one year later, that figure dropped to 103, and the remaining countries made entry procedures considerably more difficult for foreigners. 
  • The UAE passport did not perform any better: it was considered one of the most prestigious ones before the pandemic, which automatically made it highly desirable. As of the end of October 2022 (when the article is written), the UAEs passport is in position 14, and its future prospects remain unclear.

And we show you a tendency rather than just a few random examples. 

If US and UAE citizens (or citizens of any other country) had a second passport stored somewhere on the shelf before the pandemic began, they would feel considerably less restrained in their actions. And this applies not only to wealthy people but also to those whose names will never appear on the FORBES lists. In other words, the target audience of the “golden passport” programs is much wider, and we strongly disagree with the experts who claim the opposite.

Prospects for Investment in the Golden Passport

Let’s take a look at the two logical questions that most people ask themselves:

  • Is it worth investing in second citizenship (see a detailed article focused on different programs) when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted? 
  • Is it true that you need to make exorbitant investments to get your second passport, and it automatically excludes citizens with ordinary income from the list of potential candidates for the golden passport?

And these are really good points that we are going to discuss below.

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What about the rich?

The question itself implies that we should clearly define what “rich” means. In this article, we refer to the UHNWI segment (Ultra High Net Worth Individuals) that includes persons with an ultra-large net worth starting from 30 million US dollars. 

Statistics show that at least 25% of such persons have now applied for participation in the Golden Passport programs or are going to do so in the near future. Thus, we can conclude that the interest of the UHNWI category in second citizenship continues to grow at a steady pace.

Ordinary people with ordinary income: what’s on in this category?

And if we look at the people with a lower income, they apply for second citizenship twice more often than before, which indicates the high popularity of golden passport programs with a wide range of persons not belonging to the UHNWI category. 

The threshold of financial requirements is not as high as it is rumored – in fact, it is quite modest. For example, the minimum cost of Antigua’s economic citizenship starts at 20,000 US dollars, Montenegro – at 60,000 euros, and Turkey – at 400,000 US dollars (see a detailed article on the current terms of participation in the Golden Passport programs).

So then, are the financial requirements for candidates too high? 

The answer depends on what level of income is considered standard in your country. 

If we are talking about people who live on a tight budget all life long, the above-mentioned amounts will be unthinkable even for the residents of developed countries (G7, G20). However, this is not the largest stratum of society, and we should not treat it as such.

Logically enough, the situation will change if you go just one step up the ladder. Business people, freelancers, specialists with sufficient knowledge working for someone, or private investors – all of them will find the amount quite affordable, and some of them will not even have to resort to significant sacrifices in their lifestyle. And this stratum is wide enough to form stable demand for CBI programs.

Al Jazeera Left Us No Time to Think

While we are trying to consider whether it is appropriate to invest in the second passport, the situation is changing – sometimes in a matter of days, due to circumstances that seemed to have materialized from nowhere. And we are not talking about COVID-19 restrictions here but referring to a scandalous investigation made by the journalists of the Arab TV channel whose results hit the second citizenship market like a bomb.

In the summer of 2020, Al Jazeera journalists published the outrageous results of the investigation, according to which many Cyprus golden passport holders actually bought their citizenship. As you may suspect, it was not a 100% legal deal: some individuals had criminal roots, and many used aggressive tax optimization schemes. However, they managed to get away with that by greasing a few palms, and the officials of Cyprus just turned a blind eye to these annoying things.

As a result, the European second citizenship market was practically frozen, and it still shows no signs of revival. If you’ve decided to become a European golden passport holder, there are very few opportunities available: Malta (unless you are a Russian citizen), Montenegro, and Turkey. You can also take advantage of some excellent options in offshore jurisdictions, but opportunities really come and go. We can’t predict how long the programs will last before they are suspended or closed.

A more realistic (and quite recommendable) way to start is to get a residence permit by investment (Golden Visa Programs), but we also observe that the qualification requirements in this area are getting more and more stringent. At the time when the article is written (start of November, 2022), the residence permit option is still available, but potential investors have almost no time to think.

COVID-19 and Investment Immigration

This discussion may seem off-topic, but it is in fact directly related to the subject of our article. The fact is that COVID-119 brought about a great deal of chaos to all the existing business relations and processes, and they had to be reinvented on a global scale. Many people are now working from home and communicating with their colleagues, employers, and customers via the Internet. And the higher the qualification of these people, the more money they get for their work (a simple truth that we should mention here).

Many of those commonly referred to as digital nomads have adopted the new rules of the game without any problems. It turned out that working from home may be just as pleasant and comfortable as spending your working hours in the office. And if that’s the case, why should you stay glued to one place? There are plenty of offshore jurisdictions open to you where you can live in the lap of nature and enjoy the same level of comfort.

There are five leading jurisdictions in the Caribbean that provide citizenship-by-investment programs: Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia. If we analyze the investments made by the participants of the second passport programs offered by these countries, the total figure will exceed USD 25 billion. And we are talking about official statistics now as there are also gray channels (let’s admit it), which may at least double that figure if we take them into account. And all of that is due to coronavirus… We cannot say that other factors are nonexistent, but COVID-19 undoubtedly played a great role as the CBI market catalyst.

Comparing citizenship by investment programs

Compare the programs →
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Recommendations and Conclusions

Mobility is one of the trends that has come to stay in the 21st century. When borders are blurred, being glued to one jurisdiction becomes a pointless practice. However, there are various circumstances that introduce a great deal of uncertainty into this statement, making it hard to enjoy mobility without limits. 

If we look at the factors that bring about restrictions, we should mention not only COVID-19 but also the rapid deterioration of the situation around Ukraine, international sanctions against Russia, the investigation conducted by Al Jazeera, trends toward widespread deoffshorization, as well as some other causes that could not have been predicted at the start. Anyway, we should find ways to stay afloat even in times of great uncertainty. And while we could say earlier that freedom requires sacrifices, we can now rephrase it as follows: mobility requires sacrifices. Or else, just to be more precise, “mobility requires spending”.

Under the circumstances, the existence of citizenship-by-investment programs seems to be a blessing that we can truly benefit from. After all, they not only provide new opportunities but also form an additional level of protection at a personal level, and also on the level of family, business, and investment.

If you look back, you will see that classical offshore companies functioned without any limitations until some major scandals resulted in considerable restrictions that later became known as “deoffshorization”. Who knows what happens to investor passports in the future? They may be subjected to considerable restrictions as well, and programs may be closed. With that in mind, all we can recommend is not to delay obtaining a second passport if you are thinking about this opportunity. On our part, we can promise expert assistance with any administrative issues that inevitably arise.

Discover some of our popular Citizenship by Investment services (in the jurisdictions that we strongly recommend to our clients):

Please be sure to contact our experts to ask them any questions you may have at an individual consultation. Send us an e-mail to book a free meeting and choose the right jurisdiction for you that will suit your needs perfectly.

We wish you to make timely decisions and grab a good opportunity when you see it!

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