Weighing up the pros and cons of acquiring second citizenship in the Caribbean? Here, the Managing Director of CS Global Partners – international legal advisory firm specialising in citizenship and residence solutions – introduces the Citizenship by Investment Programme of the Emerald Island of Dominica.
The search for security, stability and the promise of a better future, attracts many to contemplate the option of second citizenship. However, with a majority of countries requiring lengthy residency stays or family connections prior to awarding citizenship, the route to obtaining second citizenship can be a lengthy and complicated one.
Favoured by governments and high-net worth individuals, citizenship by investment programmes are a modern solution to this issue, offering an accelerated route to citizenship in exchange for a substantial investment into the economy of the providing state. Such programmes offer a variety of investment options for acquiring citizenship, often including a donation to a national fund or an investment in a government-approved real estate project.
Because of the financial obligations required by citizenship by investment programmes, it is essential that investors consider the validity of the programme of interest to them, its suitability and the personal benefits it can yield.
Prospective applicants should assess the legitimacy of a citizenship by investment programme by ensuring it is enshrined in law. This assures that the citizenship conferred is one internationally recognised. Applicants should also determine the scope for family members to be included in an application and assess key programme characteristics such as processing times and residency requirements.
In recent years, Caribbean citizenship by investment programmes have become very popular among high net worth individuals. This is not just because of the streamlined processes available in the region, but also because the Caribbean islands are socialy and politically stable jurisdictions enjoying significant economic growth.
Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment Programme
Over the past 23 years, the Commonwealth of Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment Programme has evolved and adapted to become one of the most attractive dual citizenship opportunities in the world. Not only does it cater to varying applicants’ needs, but it also benefits the public and private economic development of the island. Private investment through citizenship by investment enables the Dominican Government to fulfil its vision of sustainable and resilient growth, while maintaining the essence of Dominica’s ‘nature island’ mantra.
Route 1: The Dominica Economic Diversification Fund (EDF)
Dominica offers two investment options for potential citizens and neither option requires residency. The first is a contribution to the Economic Diversification Fund (EDF). The other is an investment into a government pre-approved real estate project.
The EDF route requires applicants to make a non-refundable contribution of US$100,000. This Government-managed fund operates in a fully transparent manner, with funds allocated in the national budget and redirected to critical needs areas. Particular emphasis is placed on the development of infrastructure, small businesses, and ‘smart investments,’ such as geothermal and biomass energy. Projects selected for EDF funding must also provide employment for locals, or otherwise substantially improve their quality of life. Dominican hospitals, schools, telecommunications facilities, agriculture and more have all benefited from EDF support. For each applicant’s dependants, be they a spouse, child or parent, a tiered fee structure is applied.
Route 2: Investing in Dominica Real Estate
The second citizenship by investment option – investing in Dominica real estate – requires a minimum US$200,000 investment for a single applicant and payment of a US$50,000 government fee. Real estate is pre-approved by the Government and is usually a luxury, eco-friendly resort or hotel. Again, tiered fees are offered for each additional dependant. A minimum three-year ownership is required before the property can be resold, and five years must lapse before it can be offered back into the citizenship by investment real estate market.
Neither of these options involves compulsory residence times, interviews, or language tests on the part of applicants. However, it would certainly be a shame for citizens of this beautiful emerald island not to visit, and even live and work on Dominica – something they can do without restriction.
Dominica has one of the strongest due diligence processes in the world, featuring extensive background checks that eminent international agencies are mandated to undertake. Given these rigorous investigations, the application process can take up to 12 weeks, after which time all stakeholders can be assured of the applicant’s eligibility for a second citizenship.
Find a New Beginning on Dominica
Dubbed ‘the nature island’ of the Caribbean, the Commonwealth of Dominica is the ultimate destination for those seeking to refresh, renew and reinvigorate. It is a 750-km oasis, spanning a full range of natural environments – from some of the highest mountains in the Caribbean to effervescent coral reefs. Its tropical climate has birthed natural rain forests, hot and cold sulphur springs and uncommon volcanic sand beaches. Birdlife and fauna abound, and it is only here that you can see the Sisserou Parrot, which the Dominicans honour and promote on their national flag and seal.
Dominica has become a popular destination for tourists and Citizenship by Investment Programme candidates, especially for those who enjoy relaxed activities like hiking, snorkelling, diving, whale watching, yachting and yoga. It is also an idyllic setting for those seeking spirituality and a deeper connection to their natural surroundings.
Beneath the Morne Diablotin and Morne Trois Pitons mountains, the island’s 70,000 residents celebrate their Creole, African, and European origins. This multifaceted heritage allows Dominicans to build lasting relationships with visitors from all corners of the globe and to relate to their cultures and histories. This welcoming, outgoing spirit is reflected in Dominica’s laws, which allow all foreigners to visit the island for 21 days without a visa as a tourist.
Lucrative & Stable
Dominica’s soaring popularity as a destination for nature and leisure-lovers has spurred investment in all areas relating to tourism, such as private charter aviation and yacht rentals. Perhaps the most profitable of these areas is real estate, which has seen unprecedented expansion. Investors are particularly interested in eco-lodges and luxury green developments catering to those who are both sophisticated and environmentally conscious. The Dominican Government has also been receptive to this rising demand for ecological real estate, having identified Tranquillity Beach Dominica (to be managed by Hilton International’s Curio) and the Cabrits Resort Kempinski Dominica as approved projects under the nation’s Citizenship by Investment Programme.
To add to this, in January of 2017, the Government announced the approval of the Marriott Autograph Collection – a boutique brand of the Marriott International chain – as the latest real estate development to feature in Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment Programme. Marriott International is hailed as one of the world’s largest and best hotel franchises, employing around 360,000 people across the globe, and there is no doubt the hotel will play an instrumental role in marketing the island to foreign investors, encouraging applicants to purchase a share in the hotel in exchange for citizenship.
Dominica’s financial services industry has also been experiencing notable growth, despite already being one of the most robust in the Caribbean. Its success is complemented by an established currency that is pegged to the US dollar and by a favourable tax system, which frees Dominicans from wealth, gift, inheritance, foreign income and capital gains tax. Entrepreneurs setting up a business in Dominica can also profit from the duty-free import of equipment and materials – a benefit that is particularly relevant to those investing in Dominica’s lucrative agro-processing and manufacturing sectors.
Investment in Dominica is aided by the Invest Dominica Authority, an institution fully dedicated to making Dominica as attractive to foreign investors as possible. Among its core offers are business concessions, low operational costs (less than any other Caribbean jurisdiction) and a steady, peaceful environment in which to nurture a business.
Confidence in the System
Dominica attracts credible and worthy applicants to its Citizenship by Investment Programme because it has one of today’s most rigorous due diligence regimes, hailed the world over for its integrity and transparency.
This integrity and transparency is echoed in Dominica’s commitment to anti-money laundering, which has recently been strengthened by designing more effective and risk-based procedures and to combating the financing of terrorism.
Therefore, for those seeking a spiritual sanctuary with a commitment to transparency, where an investment has sustainable benefits both for individual entrepreneurs and local people, Dominica presents a paradise that is hard to resist.
Other Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programmes
There are other Caribbean citizenship by investment programmes that stand out as particularly attractive: notably those of St Kitts & Nevis and Grenada. Together with Dominica, these nations offer trusted programmes supported by a robust Government framework.
St Kitts & Nevis
Launched in 1984, the St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Programme has established itself as a leader and innovator in the citizenship by investment market. It offers the ‘Platinum Standard’ of citizenship by investment by ensuring strict due diligence is performed on applicants and agents and by providing speedy processing. It recently introduced a new, fast-track option to secure delivery of passports within 60 days of submitting a successful application. Applicants to the Programme can choose to make a contribution to the country’s Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation (SIDF) starting from US$250,000, or a minimum investment of US$400,000 (plus Government fees) into an approved St Kitts & Nevis real estate project. In respect of the real estate option, applicants are strongly advised to undertake an independent valuation of the property they wish to purchase under the Programme, as this must be retained for a period of five years.
The Grenada Citizenship by Investment Programme was designed with the family unity in mind and provides an effective solution for large households. Grenadian citizens can enjoy the benefits of close diplomatic ties to several nations including the People’s Republic of China, to which they can travel visa-free. Citizens of Grenada are also eligible to apply for residence under the United States’ E-2 Visa Programme, which allows applicants to invest in one of the world’s strongest economies. The Grenada Citizenship by Investment Programme welcomes individuals of good character in return for an investment either in the form of a minimum donation to Grenada’s National Transformation Fund (NTF) or a minimum investment into a government approved-real estate project. The first option is available for a US$200,000 donation, which encompasses a family of four. The second option is available in return for a US$300,000 investment in Grenada real estate plus Government fees.