Jan 22, 2020

Citizenship by Investment in Saint Kitts and Nevis – 35 Years on the Market

Where does the Saint Kitts and Nevis citizenship by investment program stand now, after over 35 years in the global gold passport market? As the facts show, at this stage, the program with its impressive background, offers extremely valuable advantages to its participants, serves as a support for the host country and is highly reliable. Read on to learn all of it.

The Citizenship by Investment program of Saint Kitts and Nevis is very popular among high net worth individuals from different post-Soviet countries, particularly – Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians, and other foreigners.

Аccording to official data, as of autumn of the past year, a total of 16.5 thousand foreigners were able to successfully apply for citizenship by investments in St. Kitts and Nevis (in total for the entire period since the launch of the corresponding immigration program in 1984).

Considering that the population of Saint Kitts and Nevis at the beginning of last year was about 55.3 thousand people (data source – the World Bank), it turns out that almost every third of its citizens are recipients of a “golden passport”.

According to experts, such citizens often live beyond the borders of the Caribbean, forming a foreign diaspora of a peculiar kind. And this is not the exhaustive list of amazing effects of the program “citizenship by investment” that are offered by Saint Kitts and Nevis.

Citizenship by Investment in Saint Kitts and Nevis: Background

The islands of Nevis and St. Kitts were among the first in the Caribbean to be settled by Europeans. Saint Kitts became the birthplace of the first British and French colonies in the Caribbean, and was therefore called the “Mother of the Colonies of the West Indies.” Christopher Columbus discovered Nevis in 1493 and gave this island the name San Martin.

Since the 40s of the past century, the production of cane sugar, as well as derivative products, such as rum, were the core export basis for the Caribbean jurisdiction. But over time, the sugar industry started to decline, which caused the local government to desperately seek alternative sources of financing. The decision to grant foreigners citizenship by investments helped minimize the negative effects.

Amendments to immigration law allowing the country’s authorities to grant citizenship for investment were adopted in Saint Kitts and Nevis a year after gaining independence from the United Kingdom (this historic event took place in 1983). Thus, in 2019 marks the 35th anniversary since the launch of the citizenship by investment program in this Caribbean country.

Currently, the “golden passport” of this Caribbean jurisdiction is one of the most popular and, without prejudice, one of the best passports in the world, offering visa-free access to more than 15 countries.

At the same time, the Citizenship by Investment program offered by Saint Kitts and Nevis has gained enormous attention by the global market of services of formalizing “gold passports”, providing an intellectual basis for similar immigration schemes in Malta, Cyprus, Moldova, Montenegro and four other countries in the Caribbean basin.

As of today, proprietary schemes of citizenship by investment that offer a straightforward, simple, fast and legal methods to obtain new passport exist in nearly two dozen of countries.

Citizenship by Investment in Saint Kitts and Nevis: Quality and Reliability Guaranteed

In 2019, the Saint Kitts and Nevis government made several amendments to the legislation governing the issuance of “golden passports” and took a number of other steps to tighten this process. The following actions were performed:

  • Introduction of the procedure for collecting biometric data of applicants (fingerprints);
  • More stringent regulation of processing escrow accounts for applicants of citizenship for real estate in Saint Kitts and Nevis (escrow bill for property buyers). This step is intended to restore the confidence of foreign investors in real estate in St. Kitts and Nevis;
  • Introduction of 24/7 case management system which makes it possible to accept applications around the clock;
  • Establishment of a monitoring system to track the status of applications for citizenship by investments in real time;
  • Involvement of additional suppliers of services specialized in the field of comprehensive Due Diligence, with special knowledge and databases pertinent to specific countries and regions;
  • Enhanced partnerships with responsive governments for the purpose of conducting reliability checks of potential investors.

At this stage, reliability check procedures for investors used in Saint Kitts and Nevis are among the top in the world and unconditionally comply with all industry standards. Caribbean jurisdiction conducts multilevel checks in collaboration with international firms and agencies.

The authorities of the Caribbean country do not accept applications for citizenship by investments from persons from the so-called “rogue countries” and states that are considered by the global community as non-cooperative in the anti-terrorism and organized crime undertakings.

In addition, the Government of Saint Kitts and Nevis has excellent relations with regional and international agencies combating crime, including the Caribbean Community Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (CARICOM), the Joint Regional Communications Center (JRCC) and the International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol).

Thanks to the support of these and many other specialized structures, officials from the Caribbean country are constantly updating their databases on internationally wanted persons, etc.

The government of jurisdiction remains open and transparent in matters relating to investment citizenship, and actively interacts in this area with high-level international partners.

Significant reforms of the citizenship by investment program, world-renowned risk management experts involved in the monitoring process and close cooperation of the government with regional and international law enforcement agencies have led to the international recognition of the high level of reliability and integrity of the program. The authorities promise to continue reforms and implement innovations within the framework of this immigration scheme in order to ensure the adoption of the most reliable security measures.

Citizenship by Investment in Saint Kitts and Nevis: Advantages for the State

In St. Kitts and Nevis, “citizenship by investments” is an alternative instrument to attract foreign investment to stimulate economic growth, create jobs, increase the country’s resilience to climate change and disasters.

In particular, the country uses this opportunity to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At the same time, the program for issuing “golden passports” holds benefits to the Caribbean jurisdiction both direct and indirect.

Citizenship by investment St. Kitts and Nevis: advantages for the state – direct benefit

The high popularity of the program among HNWI foreigners helps this Caribbean country to earn significant money by issuing passports and citizenship by investments to Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians and applicants from many other countries. These persons pay the corresponding state charges and make non-refundable contributions to the state fund, thereby de facto replenishing the budget of the host country.

The authors of the budget report for 2019, the proceeds from the program “citizenship through investments” were called the most significant component of non-tax revenues of the treasury. This scheme accounted for 67.5 percent of such revenues ($ 159 million). In total, in 2017, 221.3 million US dollars of non-tax revenues were received.

The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) reports that the inflow of funds from the program from January to September 2018 reached $ 287 million, or 39 percent of the total budget revenue of the Caribbean country.

The aggregate amount of revenues to the budget grew by 23.5 percent year on year – mainly due to an increase in non-tax revenues due to the issuance of “golden passports” (this source accounted for 84 percent of financial receipts). At the same time, tax revenues grew by only 8 percent year on year.

It is expected that in 2019 the program will bring 30 million US dollars only in the form of state fees for processing applications from persons applying for citizenship for St. Kitts and Nevis investments.

According to estimations by experts, the total amount of financial revenue to the treasury of the Caribbean state from the issuance of “golden passports” over the past ten years has reached the mark of 3.29 billion East Caribbean dollars (1.22 billion US dollars).            

The income from issuing “golden passports” is staggering. This is a huge resource for a small country with a population of only 55.3 thousand. Statistics show that economic prosperity in St. Kitts and Nevis was achieved largely owing to the citizenship by investment program. Should 1.2 billion US dollars of budget revenues be distributed among the country citizens, it will result in 22 thousand US dollars per capita.

The economic impact of the citizenship by investment program is clearly illustrated by the Sustainable Growth Fund, which was established as part of this program in April 2018 as pool for contributions which applicants are required to deposit in the amount of $ 150,000 for citizenship. The money from the fund is used to ensure sustainable and social development on the islands through the implementation of projects in the following areas:

  • Improving the quality of education;
  • Ensuring the health and well-being of a growing population;
  • Improving climate resilience and protecting islands from the future effects of climate change;
  • Creating a reliable and sustainable infrastructure that will stand the test of time;
  • Promoting the development of the tourism sector;
  • Preservation of cultural heritage and color;
  • Support for local business.

Citizenship for investment St. Kitts and Nevis: advantages for the state – indirect benefit

The core part of the participants under consideration within the immigration program make contributions to the above-mentioned state fund: lump-sum contribution to this sovereign fund in the amount of only 150 thousand US dollars entitles foreigners to citizenship. According to experts, about 90 percent of applications for “golden passports” of the Caribbean country entail payment of this contribution.

Only 10 percent of applicants invest in real estate in St. Kitts and Nevis, paying 200 thousand US dollars (with the right to recover investment after 7 years) or 400 thousand US dollars (with the right to recover the investment after 5 years). Overall, the flow of investment in real estate in St. Kitts and Nevis is quite substantial.

Thanks to this flow, the Citizenship by Investment program of the countries of Saint Kitts and Nevis has a significant indirect positive impact on the development of the economy of this state, contributing to the growth of the luxury hotel industry and significantly expanding the tourism sector.

Several five-star hotels and resorts were built in St. Kitts and Nevis with the funding from program participants, which led to growth in the tourism sector. Recently, the Port Zant Cruise Pier has been partially expanded with program funds, which will also contribute to development of tourism.

The growing attractiveness of tourism products and stability in the economy have led to higher investor confidence, as well as an increase in the number of hotel and condominium developers who demonstrate significant interest in the country and open their facilities in St. Kitts and Nevis.

For example, the Ritz Carlton chain recently announced the expansion of its brand’s regional presence in St. Kitts’ beaches with a resort consisting of one hundred twenty-five (125) rooms and twenty-five (25) branded villas and residences, equipped with luxury spa facilities, pools and restaurants. In 2018, a number of similar projects were approved, including the following:

  • The Royal Mist Hotel (Saint Kitts),
  • Sea View Heights Resort and Residences (Saint Kitts),
  • Era Development in Hermitage Estate, (Saint Kitts),
  • Belmont Gardens (Nevis),
  • Wyndham Hotel (Nevis).

In aggregate, these projects entail investments in the Caribbean’s economy in excess of $ 300 million. It is expected that the projects will significantly contribute to higher employment levels during the construction phase and after commissioning – including among individuals providing supporting goods and services.

This and other fundamentally new development projects for the construction of the resort real estate will complement the expansion of the variety of room types in already existing resorts like in Ramada Hotel, Koi Resort and Kings Pavilion Hotel. Successful completion of these projects will lead to increased tourist flows.

Citizenship by Investment in Saint Kitts and Nevis: Opportunities for Entrepreneurial Investors

Caribbean jurisdiction is increasingly gaining reputation as a world-class luxury travel destination due to the growing volume of travel services, the large number of the world’s best hotel chains represented on the islands and other factors.

However, not only tourism is the key for the country. The agricultural sector, export-oriented production and offshore banking services – these sectors of the Caribbean’s economy are developing steadily and are now playing an increasingly important role. These sectors have become the main sources of foreign exchange earnings for Saint Kitts and Nevis. The country also successfully develops the industry of ready-made garment sector.

And more significantly, the program of economic citizenship of the Caribbean jurisdiction made it possible to achieve a significant reduction of public debt to GDP ratio, bringing this indicator in line with the international standard of 60 percent.

It is noteworthy that this important milestone was reached 12 years earlier than the date set by the target forecast of the Organization of East Caribbean States (OECS). OECS experts anticipated that such a significant reduction in public debt would not be possible earlier than by 2030. As of the end of December 2014, the ratio of debt to GDP was 78 percent.

A recent report from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) says that the country’s level of economic growth increased in 2018 to 2.5 percent (from 1.2 percent the previous year), which was due to a sharp increase in the volume of tourism services sector amid the arrival of an increasing number of cruise liners, as well as an increase in the turnover of the hotel and restaurant business.

According to official statistics, the number of foreigners arriving in the country and staying for one or several nights at local hotels increased in 2019 by 4.2 percent year on year.

According to experts, there have never been better conditions for investment in the island nation in question. And perhaps the best reason for investing in Saint Kitts and Nevis right now is a positive economic outlook for the country. Experts expect that in 2020 the growth rate of its economy will be no less than 4.5 percent due to a number of large-scale capital projects launched earlier.

The government has focused on improving public infrastructure, including building reliable housing, developing tourism, and improving public transportation. The Ministry of Tourism and the St. Kitts Tourism Authority also work closely with airlines to systematically build out air bridges to/from identified target gateways to grow service in a sustainable manner while making the island increasingly easy to reach via air.

By making significant contribution to the state fund or by investing in real estate in Saint Kitts and Nevis, you become eligible for a second passport and citizenship by investment scheme. This, in turn, gives a foreigner all the advantages that are offered by citizenship of Saint Kitts and Nevis, including a visa-free regime when traveling to 15 dozen countries and territories around the world.

The unlimited freedom to travel around the world should be seen as a huge advantage – especially from a business perspective. Entrepreneurs who invest in the islands find it much easier to trade internationally through visa-free travel. They can also take advantage of staff with the extensive skills and talents available on the islands. 

The local government seeks to improve the skills of the workforce and, therefore, in 2016 launched a special training program – STEP (Skills Training Empowerment Program). STEP is aimed at training a skilled workforce through on-the-job training. This initiative has already helped to reduce unemployment in St. Kitts and Nevis to a record low level. Currently, the island has the lowest unemployment rate among the countries of the Organization of East Caribbean States.

An entrepreneur can benefit by using this skilled workforce when establishing subsidiaries on the islands, rather than relocating employees from abroad. By opening a business in Saint Kitts and Nevis, you can take advantage of the favorable tax regime and other benefits. Learn more about the costs of Nevis BC and LLC incorporation and maintenance.

By investing in citizenship for real estate on the islands, approved by the authorities, a foreigner can rent it out, and direct these rental earnings to recover initial investment. Moreover, investments can be withdrawn in 5-7 years. Amid rising tourist numbers and upward movement in real estate prices in Saint Kitts and Nevis, investing in such an asset promises tremendous financial returns.

And keep in mind that, regardless of the investment amount, you contribute to accelerated growth of the islands’ economy, thereby protecting your investment. Therefore, take full advantage of the passport of Saint Kitts and Nevis by applying for citizenship for investment in the country this year. And do your best to protect yourself from scammers!

To get first-hand additional information about the Citizenship by Investment Program in Saint Kitts and Nevis  and obtain a passport for this country, we recommend that you seek help directly from the best and most experienced English-speaking consultants who work without intermediaries and are among the top by the number of processed orders. Do not hesitate to send your requests to [email protected] and we will reply promptly.