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May 21, 2017
With a growing number of high net worth and ultra high net worth individuals seeking immigration solutions abroad, websites for obtaining a second citizenship and passport are popping up everywhere. These websites promote what is generally called “Citizenship by Investment Programs,” or CIPs, which offer investors and businesspeople the chance to obtain passports in Caribbean countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, St. Kitts and Nevis, Grenada, and St. Lucia, among others. While there are a few Citizenship by Investment Programs throughout Europe, Caribbean passports are rising in popularity due to their overall affordability, fast-track application processing times, and convenience, in that successful applicants are not required to make pre-approval visits to the country of choice, nor are they bound by physical residency requirements* upon receiving their citizenship and passport.
You might be thinking these types of schemes sound “too good to be true,” and in some instances, they are. With more and more websites promoting Citizenship by Investment Programs, there is also a greater chance of becoming a victim of internet scams—websites aimed to “rip off” or cheat unsuspecting visitors out of money. In this blog, we want to offer our readers helpful tips for not only avoiding second citizenship and passport scams, but how to determine the legitimacy of a Citizenship by Investment Program.
*Antigua and Barbuda is the only Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Program that requires applicants to stay in the country 5 days out of a 5-year period.
Is the Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP) Supported by the Government?
First and foremost, obtaining a second citizenship and passport has to be done through legal channels. One of the most important things to remember is that Citizenship by Investment Programs should be backed by the official government of the country in question. In the Caribbean, the island nations of Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts and Nevis operate their Citizenship by Investment Programs through initiatives supported by their government. A rule of thumb should be to conduct a cursory search for the country’s official government website. If you can’t find information about a country’s Citizenship by Investment Program on its government website, it should immediately raise a red flag. Most countries (if not all) will have a constitutional act that grants the government the authority to operate second citizenship and passport schemes through investment. Here, you can simply request a copy of the constitutional act directly from the government to verify the country’s citizenship program to determine its validity.
Caribbean countries in general have taken great strides to improve the overall transparency of their second citizenship and passport programs, and their continued efforts have garnered positive results within the wider Citizenship by Investment market.
Are You Working with an Accredited Immigration Company, Lawyer, or Agent?
Although QICMS has written extensively on the subject of finding the right immigration firm or immigration lawyers, consultants, and issues involving fraud, we want to remind our readers the importance of finding accredited companies or individuals to work with.
For Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programs, applicants seeking services through an immigration firm or consultant should make sure their interests are being represented by a local Licensed Agent that has been authorized by the government’s Citizenship by Investment Unit (CBIU). To be sure, Licensed Agents can be found on the respective country’s official CBIU website.
Lastly, no one can just get a passport without time and effort. It can be a lengthy process, even when applying to a Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Program, which offer fast-track processing. What this means is that there are standard procedures that all applicants must adhere to, whether it’s gathering medical documentation, police clearances, birth or marriage certificates, proof of residency, or submitting bank statements, these things take time. Gathering and submitting all required documents can take anywhere from 3-6 months, so if an immigration firm or consultant is guaranteeing you a second passport right way, the offer is probably too good to be true.
Researching Real Estate Investment Options
Many Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programs allow applicants to invest in government-approved real estate options. These types of real estate properties can range from personal residences to commercial structures such as hotels or high-end boutiques. No matter which option you choose, always work with an immigration consultant or local Licensed Agent who is familiar with real estate markets in the area (and can thus provide sound advice). These individuals will not only help you select the best property, but they can even help you negotiate the best purchasing prices.
It’s important to note that most real estate options contain a minimum holding period, which requires the investor to legally maintain a property in his or her name for a period of up to 5 years. This is why choosing the right location of the real estate property is also important, including how the property has been constructed and maintained. For investors, looking into well-constructed and maintained properties will help avoid depreciation issues should the investor choose to resell the property in the future.
Citizenship by Investment Programs are a growing trend around the world, and individuals seeking second citizenship and passport opportunities can have a difficult time figuring out where to start. A lot of people might assume that the longer a program has been around, the more safe an investment it is. While there is truth to this, it also takes research to determine who to work with and what Citizenship by Investment is not only secure for your wealth, but best for you and your family.
This is why our team at QICMS likes to provide the best tips for our readers on finding the right immigration firm or immigration consultant, and we always encourage individuals seeking immigration-related advice to do their proper research before making any decisions. Contact our office today and our team of professionals will be happy to answer any of your questions regarding Citizenship or Residency by Investment Programs.
If you would like to view our brochures for St. Lucia, Dominica, Grenada, or St. Kitts and Nevis, kindly send a request to the QICMS team.
For more information on Citizenship by Investment Programs, please click here.
For more information on Antigua and Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment Program (CIP), please click here.
For more information on Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Program, please click here.
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