London — There are definite benefits to the Citizenship by Investment Programs across the Caribbean, says Caribbean & Co. founder, Ursula Petula Barzey on the heels of a recent CBS 60 Minutes report called Passports for Sale which painted a very negative picture of the programs.

Barzey who writes about the Citizenship by Investment Programs for the luxury travel blog Caribbean & Co. said the programs are a much-needed source of foreign direct investment that, if managed properly, can help to diversify the countries’ economies which are currently overly dependent on tourism.

According to Dominica’s 2016 Budget, in the 2015/16 Financial Year, EC$279.8 million was raised via their Citizenship By Investment Program.  EC$44 million of which was spent on various projects including employment and apprenticeship programs, small and micro business support and road repairs after Tropical Storm Erica in 2015.

The money generated from the Antigua & Barbuda Citizenship By Investment Program launched in 2012, was projected to raise EC $111.4 million in 2015 compared to EC$60.3 million in 2014.  For St Kitts & Nevis, the program was projected to generate 30% of the government’s revenue in 2015 — roughly EC$200 million. A significant percentage of the millions generated by both programs are used to fund various development initiatives across a range of sectors through the Antigua & Barbuda National Development Fund (NDF) and the St Kitts & Nevis Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation respectively.

“The alleged rogues, scoundrels and tax cheats highlighted from the St Kitts & Nevis program are all historical cases.  The Kitts & Nevis Citizenship By Investment Program like all the others in the region have since tightened their criteria and due diligence process,” the strategist explained.  “These improvements in addition to the programs and projects funded through the 5 Caribbean Citizenship By Investment Programs should have been the focus of the CBS 60 minutes report.  Of course, that may not have been sensational enough.”

“Either way, considering the potential ramifications of your entire population losing visa-free access to certain countries as what happened when St Kitts & Nevis lost visa-free access to Canada, it would have been foolish for them or any of the other programs to continue accepting candidates who don’t meet a high standard.  Failure to do so undermines the value of the product – the passport.”

Barzey goes through the ins and outs in a new online course to educate high net worth individuals on how to secure a second passport through one of the five Caribbean Citizenship By Investment Programs located in Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts & Nevis and Saint Lucia.  The online course titled 7 Steps Citizenship also provides insight on the three European Citizenship By Investment Programs located in Austria, Malta, and Cyprus.

“I was inspired to create the 7 Steps Citizenship course after attending a number of Citizenship By Investment conferences and interviewing leading government officials, experts, and advisors regarding second citizenship.  My goal is to create further awareness and present the information on the Citizenship By Investment Programs in an objective and thorough way so that potential candidates can make an informed decision about which program is right for them and their families,” added Barzey.

“Applicants must go through a series of steps including a comprehensive due diligence background check before they are approved. The course helps to prepare families for the process and helps them decide which country would best fit their needs.”

The 7 Steps Citizenship course starts with an overview of Citizenship By Investment and a detailed outline of the seven steps process to successfully acquire a second passport.  It then describes each of the – 5 Caribbean & 3 European Citizenship By Investment Programs providing insight on relevant legislation, requirements, application process, investment options, fees, taxes, duality nationality, the list of visa-free countries and territories as well as additional resources.   The course also provides access to five comparison charts to help candidates evaluate the Citizenship By Investment Programs based on their personal circumstances.   There are also some worksheets for candidates to assess and keep track of their progress.

Via one of the Caribbean Citizenship By Investment Programs, a second passport can be secured in three to six months after undergoing due diligence background checks most often conducted by American and European agencies.  The minimum investment for these programs ranges from US$100,000 to US$250,000 not including government processing and due diligence fees.

She added that countries are now publishing their program data. “For example, we now know that through the end of 2015 accounting for the last ten years, approximately 10,777 applicants had been granted citizenship and by extension second passports via the St Kitts & Nevis program.  Applicants came from 127 different countries.

“Increased transparency will help keep the governments accountable to the public and in term bring about greater reporting on the program.  This, in turn, will provide candidates who must work with an approved agent to submit their application with critical insight and help prevent them from falling for dodgy schemes not actually connected to the legitimate programs. This is one of the main reasons for the 7 Steps Citizenship course.”

The 7 Steps Citizenship course can be accessed online via https://www.7stepscitizenship.com/join/

About Caribbean & Co.

Caribbean & Co. is a digital platform and blog featuring the best of Caribbean travel and luxury lifestyle.  Its primary audience is tourists and investors from across the Caribbean region as well as in new markets across the globe – primarily Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom. The website is primarily visited by men and women between the ages of 25 – 54 who are interesting in finding out about things to do and where to stay while in the Caribbean; an increasing percentage are also thinking of purchasing a second home or investing in the region and are looking for insight on where in the Caribbean they should consider.  Find out more about Caribbean & Co. via www.caribbeanandco.com.