As of January 1st of this year, St. Lucia’s Citizenship by Investment programme is officially open and taking applications by interested investors. Late last year, Prime Minister, The Hon. Dr. Kenny Anthony formally launched the programme at the Global Citizen Forum held in Monaco. St. Lucia joins St. Kitts & Nevis, Grenada, Antigua & Barbuda and Dominica to become the fifth Caribbean State to offer a citizenship by investment programme.
A citizenship by investment programme (CbI) offers qualifying investors (as well as their spouse and dependents once they meet certain criteria) citizenship in exchange for an investment in a qualifying activity, for instance, investment in real estate, a special fund or government bonds. In a world of dwindling access to financial resources, a growing number of States internationally are currently offering some form of citizenship by investment programme as a way to raise much needed finance, including for development objectives.
This phenomenon is not limited to developing countries. Several metropolitan countries such as the US and its EB-5 Immigrant Investor Programme, offer some form of citizenship by investment scheme. Other States offer residency by investment programmes, which grant the qualifying investor certain residency benefits. A Caribbean example is Barbados’ Special Entry and Reside Permit (SERP), while Spain’s Golden Visa is an international example.
The market for second passports is growing and is an attractive option for high net worth individuals (HNWIs), particularly business persons who come from countries whose passports are subject to visa restrictions, making it difficult to travel to, and conduct business in major markets unimpeded. For HNWIs from those few countries like the US where personal income tax is levied based on nationality as opposed to residency, renouncing one’s citizenship and obtaining citizenship of another State through a CbI programme is also increasingly seen an attractive option.
Some quick facts about St. Lucia’s programme
Basic Eligibility Requirements
- Age Limit: Under the Citizenship by Investment Act No. 14 of 2015, a person who is 18 years or over may apply for citizenship of St. Lucia.
- Dependents: Qualifying dependents include a spouse and a child and/or parent of the applicant or of his/her spouse once the child or parent meets certain criteria provided for in the Act.
- Net worth: The applicant must have financial resources of at least US 3,000,000
In addition to these basic requirements, the applicant must fill out an application form, accompanied by the requisite information, documentation and fees and is subjected to due diligence checks.
All of this will be explained by the Authorised Agent. Authorised agents are licensed by the St. Lucia Financial Services Regulatory Authority and are authorised to act on the applicant’s behalf in relation to the application for citizenship by investment.
Qualifying Investments: On approval of the application, the potential investor will be required to make the qualifying investment proposed in his or her application. Under Schedule 2 of the Citizenship by Investment Regulations Statutory Instrument No. 89 qualifying investments are:
- Investment in the St. Lucia National Development Fund, with the level of minimum investment required depending on whether the applicant is applying alone, with a spouse and/or with dependents. For an applicant applying alone, the minimum threshold is US$ 200,000.
- Investment in an approved real estate project. The minimum threshold is US$300,000.
- Investment in an approved enterprise project. The minimum investment required depends on whether it is one or more than one applicant investing. For an applicant applying alone, the minimum investment is US$ 3,500,000 (plus no less than 3 permanent jobs).
- Investment by purchasing Investment by purchase of non interest bearing Government bonds (5 years holding bond). For an applicant applying alone, the minimum threshold is US$ 500,000.
Benefits of St. Lucia Citizenship
- St. Lucia allows for dual citizenship which means the investor is not forced to renounce his or her citizenship of another State.
- The Citizenship by Investment Board is only allowed to grant a maximum of 500 applications annually which adds an element of exclusivity.
- A St. Lucia passport allows for visa-free travel to over 90 countries, including the Schengen Area (26 European countries), as well as visa-free travel within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the other rights of which CARICOM nationals benefit under the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas.
For further information on St. Lucia’s Citizenship by Investment programme, please contact the St. Lucia Citizenship by Investment Unit.
For a general overview of CbI programmes across the Caribbean, please feel free to read my earlier article: Economic Citizenship by Investment Programmes in the Eastern Caribbean: A Brief Look.
DISCLAIMER: Please note that the information presented in this Article is for general information only and is not intended to be, nor should it be construed as, investment or legal advice. The Author is in no way affiliated with the St. Lucia Citizenship by Investment programme or any of the relevant authorities. The information is taken from sources deemed to be accurate at the time of publication and the Author of this article accepts no liability or responsibility for any errors which may be contained herein or any actions suffered as a result of reliance on the information presented.
Alicia Nicholls, B.Sc., M.Sc., LL.B. is a trade and development consultant with a keen interest in sustainable development, international law and trade. You can also read more of her commentaries and follow her on Twitter @LicyLaw.