The stunning and famous island of St. Lucia, nestled next to Barbados and Martinique is soon to begin taking applications and wealthy investors in January 2016. A St Lucia passport will allow you to visit UK, EU and countries such as Hong Kong and Singapore visa free, making it a very attractive travel benefit to wealthy families from Africa, Middle East, Russia and Asia. As details have been released to us, I wanted to give you a sneak peak into how the Citizenship By Investment Programme will look and whether it should be worth considering.
In accordance with preliminary document No. 89 of 2015, the Citizenship by Investment Programme provides four investment options that qualify for citizenship granting purposes:
a) donation to the Saint Lucia National Economic Fund, b) investment in an approved real estate project, c) private business investment in compliance with the mandatory creation of new permanent jobs, and d) investment by purchase of non-interest bearing Government bonds. (A first for the Caribbean)
The donation is set at US$200,000 for a single applicant, US$235,000 for the main applicant and spouse, and US$250,000 for a family of four. This positions it higher than Dominica but under that of St Kitts and Antigua.
The minimum amount of real estate investment required will start from US$300,000 which needs to be held for five years, however no developers have yet to be appointed.
A first for the Caribbean CBI is Investment by purchase of non-interest bearing Government bonds. This will please many wealthy investors
with a guaranteed return of their investment after 5 years for those not willing to pay and loose their hard earned cash with donation contributions. I have always stated that the issue with Caribbean real estate investments is that you must find a buyer in five years time to recoup your investment and this is difficult considering over 80% of all investors choose the donation option. The offering of bonds could be a game changer and this is where St Lucia may appeal. In order to qualify for citizenship, the single applicant must purchase bonds worth USD$500,000, US$535,000 for the MA & Wife and US$550,000 for a family of 4 members.
Of course like any Citizenship program there will be additional Government fees and legal costs depending on the family composition. Due diligence will be USD$7,500 for the main applicant and USD$5,000 for each dependent 16 years and over. Processing fees are set at US$2000 and US$1,000, respectively.
Additional Government fees also apply for a real estate investor and they are; USD$50 000 for the principal applicant; USD$35,000 for each dependent 18 years; USD$25,000 for each dependent under age 18.