St Lucia Citizenship-by-Investment Program – January 2017 Changes Will Lead to Increased Application Numbers
The 28th May 2015 was a proud day for the Caribbean countries of Dominica, Grenada and St Lucia, as it was on this day that they signed visa waiver agreements with the European Union. They joined Antigua and Barbuda and St Kitts and Nevis, who were both granted visa waiver status by the EU in 2009.
The immediacy of the overnight introduction of the new-found freedoms of travel into the Schengen area for citizens, belied the fact that it had taken many years of regional cooperation and discussions through CARICOM and the OECS to reach this point.
Fast forward 18 months and the commerciality of the Caribbean Region’s citizenship-by-investment market is continuing to shape economic and political decisions. Recently we have seen major changes to all five of the programs, the most striking being St Lucia, who on 22nd December 2016, made significant structural changes, which included substantial reductions to the required investment levels to their Contribution Investment option. The changes will lead to increased application numbers and were as follows:
- The removal of the requirement to demonstrate financial resources in the minimum sum of US$3m.
- The removal of the annual cap of 500 applications per year.
- It is no longer a requirement to visit St Lucia or an Embassy, High Commission or Consular Office to take the oath or affirmation of allegiance. The applicant can now provide a sworn declaration before an Attorney-at Law, Notary Royal, Notary Public, Consular Officer of Saint Lucia or Honorary Consul of Saint Lucia.
- The Government Bond investment option has been reinstated with the addition of an administration fee of US$50,000 per application.
- The immediate introduction of reduced amounts for their Contribution Investment option to the Economic Fund. The new Contribution Investment amounts are as follows:
- Single Applicant: US$100,000.00 (previously US$200,000)
- Applicant with spouse: US$165,000.00 (previously US$235,000)
- Applicant with spouse and up to 2 dependents: US$190,000.00 (previously US$250,000)
- Additional dependents: US$25,000.00 each
- The Citizenship by Investment Board will in future retain 20% of Contribution Investment amounts to the National Economic Fund to enable effective marketing and promotion of the programme.
In addition to the changes above, which came into force on the 1st January 2017, the Prime Minister also announced that early in 2017 another citizenship qualification option will be introduced. Namely, the establishment of a Saint Lucia Sovereign Wealth Fund into which applicants can invest for a stipulated period of time.
The fund will be managed by professional investment managers and will provide investors with a greater assurance of the return of their capital, and a future return on their capital, than currently exists with the real estate option in the Caribbean.
For potential investor’s this is great news and continues to make such programs, and the freedoms that they bring, more accessible to greater numbers of potential applicants.
For the Governments, a time for reflection on where such a market led approach may ultimately lead and what collaborative steps may be taken to prevent the on-going future erosion of sustainable capital inflows into the region through this well-established route.
Author: Mark Stannard IMCM
Newlands Global Citizenship Ltd