Citizenship for sale in the Caribbean
NEW YORK, United States, Friday February 15, 2013 – Foreign nationals with the time, money and inclination can hold passports from a choice of two Caribbean countries, with more likely to come on stream in the near future, according to a report in My Fox New York.
The article suggests that the combination of political and sectarian unrest overseas and economic necessity in the region has evolved into a mutually beneficial relationship whereby foreign nationals can secure the safety net afforded by an alternative passport, while the countries offering the “investor visas” reap valuable foreign exchange in return.
The publication cited the example of Hadi Mezawi, a Palestinian resident in Dubai, who recently received a Dominican passport after sending a $100,000 contribution to that country.
Mr Mezawi was quoted as saying that he keeps meeting fellow Dominica passport holders in Dubai, mostly of Iranian and Palestinian backgrounds.
“The more they fight over there, the more political problems there are, the more applications we get here,” said Victor Doche, the managing director of a company that offers condominium projects where approved buyers are granted citizenship in St Kitts and Nevis.
“Investor visas” or citizenship programmes are offered by many nations, including the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Austria.
The Caribbean countries, however, offer a fast track to citizenship that can take as little as 90 days in St Kitts and Nevis. Additionally, the process is facilitated at comparably modest cost and there’s no need to ever live on the islands, or even visit.
St Kitts closed its programme to Iranians in December 2011, shortly after Iranian students stormed the British Embassy in Tehran. Iranians had reportedly been a major source of applicants beforehand.
Grenada has hinted it may revive its programme, which was suspended after the September 11 terror attacks in the United States. The island closed the programme out of concern that passports could unknowingly be sold to terrorists, according to Fox.
Antigua and Barbuda is also said to be launching a St Kitts-model citizenship programme to attract investment to the country. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)