Caribbean nations selling citizenship to Americans due to tourism decline

Multiple Caribbean nations have implemented plans to sell citizenship to Americans and other populations after COVID-19 causes tourism decline.

Caribbean St Kitts and Nevis
(Photo by Ashley Allen - CPL T20 via Getty Images)

People who have always held dreams of island homes may now have their chance. The coronavirus pandemic has caused a drop in tourism and now select Caribbean nations aim to make up for the deficit with citizenship offers for the right price.

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According to Bloomberg, St. Kitts and Nevis, Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda, St. Lucia, and Grenada have updated the cost of a passport. A family of four can obtain St. Kitts and Nevis passports with a $150,000 contribution to the country’s “Sustainable Growth Fund.” This is less than the standard price of $195,000.

Nevis, Caribbean (Credit: Getty Images)

St. Kitts and Nevis was the first country to provide discounted citizenship offers to supplement income.

“In these days of Covid, when tourism is not happening, we have to find ways to create revenue to sustain our economy,” said Les Khan, CEO of St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship Investment Unit, to Bloomberg.

According to Bloomberg, the island nation helped usher in and pioneer the idea of citizenship-by-investment which has evolved into a billion-dollar industry. Wealthy residents of other countries are able to have a back-up plan.

“Clients look at these citizenship options as volatility management or risk management tools,” said Paddy Blewer, director of the U.K. office of Henley & Partners, to Bloomberg.

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Now, Caribbean nations are selling citizenship to Americans, and others, with the cost as low as $100,000 in Antigua and Barbuda. Khan says there has been an increase in interest from China and Middle Eastern companies, although the company does not provide statistics reports Bloomberg.

US Virgin Islands Caribbean
US Virgin Islands (Credit: Getty Images)

The passport offers visa-free travel to over 100 countries, including the U.K. and Italy with citizenship obtainable through investment in real estate. According to Bloomberg, in 2014, the U.S. Treasury encouraged St. Kitts to sharpen its process after Iranian nationals allegedly used a passport from the island to evade U.S. sanctions.

Khan however insists the government strict regulations are enforced and notes that currently Afghani or Iranian citizens are not eligible.

Presently, St. Lucia offers the option of buying five-year, non-interest bearing bonds with the required investment of $250,000 for an individual or $300,000 for a family of four seeking citizenship. The offer expires when 2020 ends according to Bloomberg.

Nestor Alfred, the CEO of the St. Lucia Citizenship by Investment Program tells Bloomberg since it launched its program in 2015, the nation of 182,000 has given passports to about 700 people.

The program “provides a wonderful avenue for all those persons who have not had the possibility to participate in this big wide world because of their passport,” he says to Bloomberg.

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