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St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship-by-Investment

Introduction

The citizenship-by-investment program offered by St. Kitts and Nevis is somewhat unique among investment immigration programs in that it offers citizenship directly, rather than through temporary or permanent residence. Applicants are granted citizenship on the basis of an economic contribution to the island nation in the form of a real estate investment of at least $400,000 or a minimum contribution of $250,000 (single applicant) to the country’s Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation. Real estate investments must be made in government-approved projects and maintained for five years.

In exchange for their investment, approved applicants and their qualifying family members will receive citizenship and a passport that will allow them to travel visa-free to more than 120 countries. There are no income, capital gains, inheritance or gift taxes imposed on citizens by the country, making this program particularly attractive for those looking to minimize their tax burden.[1]

 

History and Statistics

Established in 1984, the real estate arm of the Citizenship-by-Investment program is the oldest such program in the world. The option to contribute to the SIDF was initiated in 2006. The country now has a dedicated Citizenship-by-Investment Unit (CIU), which administers the program. The investment program is estimated to have brought over $74 million to the country in 2013, and is forecasted to bring $37 million more per year from 2015-2017.[2]  

 

Eligibility and Requirements[3]

In order to qualify for citizenship under this program, investors must pursue one of two investment options: 

  • A qualifying real estate purchase of at least $400,000, plus fees
  • A contribution of at least $250,000 to the country’s Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation

Applicants must be at least 18 years old, of good moral character and produce a police certificate. Successful applicants are eligible to register their spouse, minor children, older children pursuing higher education and dependent parents for citizenship.

Real estate investment

The minimum qualifying real estate purchase price is $400,000 plus required government and due diligence fees. Real estate purchases must be made in government-approved development project, a list of which can be found on the government’s Citizenship-by-Investment Unit website. In addition to the purchase price, investors are required to pay, upon approval of their application:

  • $50,047 for the main applicant
  • $25,047 for each spouse and minor child applicant
  • $50,047 for each dependent applicant over the age of 18

 

In order to ensure the integrity of the program, applicants are also required to pay $7,500 in due diligence and processing fees and an additional $4,000 in such fees per dependent.

After five years, investors are able to sell their property and maintain their citizenship.

SIDF contribution

If applicants are not interested in making a substantial real estate investment, they may choose to make a one-time non-refundable contribution to the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation, a public charity audited by PricewaterhouseCoopers.[4] Contribution amounts are inclusive of all fees except the due diligence fees. Required contributions are scaled according to the number of dependents, as follows:

  • $250,000 for a single applicant
  • $300,000 for an applicant, spouse and up to two minor children
  • $350,000 for an applicant, spouse and up to four minor children
  • $450,000 for an applicant and up to seven family members

Children aged 18-25 studying at a qualified higher-education institution can be added to any of the above applications with an additional fee of $50,000.

In order to ensure the integrity of the program, applicants are also required to pay $7,500 in due diligence and processing fees and an additional $4,000 in such fees per dependent.

 

Applying

Applications must be submitted on behalf of investors by an authorized person regulated by the Financial Services Regulatory Commission. A list of authorized persons can be found on the CIU website and each authorized person can provide applicants with comprehensive information about the program.

In order to apply, applicants and dependents must submit identification information (including passport and birth certificate), a medical certificate and a police certificate. To fulfill the financial requirements of the program, applicants must provide an investment confirmation or escrow agreement, a bank reference letter and a professional reference.

According to the CIU website, application processing can take as little as 90 days, but current processing times are ranging from four to six months for the SIDF option. Because the real estate option requires the purchase of a property, processing times could be extended.[5]

Applicants cannot choose to prepare the application and documentation on their own, but must work with an authorized professional.  Applicants are strongly recommended to seek out a qualified professional familiar with the program prior to any property purchase. Furthermore, various full-service companies exist that can educate investors about the program, direct them to realtors and attorneys and guide them through the application process.

 

[1] "Citizenship in St. Kitts & Nevis." Citizenship by Investment Program. Accessed December 28, 2015. http://ciu.gov.kn/?q=node/9.

[2] Khan, Aleem. "Buying Your St. Kitts Citizenship May Get More Expensive Soon." Bloomberg.com. June 3, 2015. Accessed December 28, 2015. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-06-03/buying-your-st-kitts-citizenship-may-get-more-expensive-soon.

[3] Unless otherwise noted, all program information taken from the CIU website. Citizenship by Investment Program. Accessed December 28, 2015. http://ciu.gov.kn.

[4] "SIDF Contribution." Citizenship by Investment Program. Accessed December 28, 2015. http://ciu.gov.kn/?q=node/13.

[5] "Citizenship Investment in St. Kitts and Nevis." Henley & Partners. Accessed December 28, 2015. https://www.henleyglobal.com/citizenship-saint-kitts-nevis-citizenship/.