24 May 2020
If you have been dreaming of getting away from the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, you can — provided you have some cash in hand.
For the starting sum of $150,000, you can buy your citizenship of the pristine Caribbean islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis.
With their pure white sands, swaying palm trees and sparkling blue waters, the islands offer the affluent both a welcome retreat and a secondary citizenship.
The Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program grants citizenship to individuals of high net worth and their families, who get in addition visa-free access to 156 countries, including EU member states and the UK.
Seemingly for this reason, the St. Kitts and Nevis CBI program has witnessed a notable increase in applications from the Arab world during the pandemic.
St. Kitts has been relatively unscathed by COVID-19. The island was placed on lockdown on March 31 after its number of cases rose to eight.
The lockdown was lifted on April 27, but the government has imposed the mandatory use of masks while outdoors.
To date, there have been 15 COVID-19 cases and no deaths.
“We have been seeing an increase in interest recently from the Middle East, especially as the lockdowns ease,” Les Khan, CEO of the St. Kitts and Nevis CBI Unit, told Arab News.
“Most of our applicants from the Middle East are families. Due to the pandemic, these individuals want to have the flexibility to travel and visit their families and children overseas with ease.”
Moe Alhaj, CEO of Migrate World Ltd, said, “There’s been a notable increase — of around 40 percent — in applicants from the Arab world during the pandemic.”
Migrate World Ltd is one of the authorized representatives for the St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship program for the Middle East and Africa regions.
Nationals of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are not allowed to hold dual citizenships.
“The individuals that the program caters to in the Middle East are largely from Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia,” added Alhaj. The program does not accept applicants from Iran, Afghanistan and North Korea.
Due to the current global restrictions in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, applications are being received electronically.
The highest number of applications following those from the Middle East come from China, the program spokesperson told Arab News.
Launched in 1984, the St. Kitts and Nevis CBI program’s initial purpose was to assist the islands’ economy, which had suffered due to the collapse of its sugar industry.
“The CBI program began as a way to stimulate foreign direct investment into the country,” explained Khan.
There are currently around eight countries that offer citizenship by investment, but the St. Kitts and Nevis program is by far the oldest. In the Caribbean, there are currently around five other programs of this nature.
“The St. Kitts and Nevis CBI program has become recognized as the platinum brand,” said Khan.
All other programs — such as the Canadian visa program and the US EB-5 investor visa — came in the wake of this one and are largely residence programs, Khan explained.
By Rebecca Anne Proctor, Arab News, 22 May 2020
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