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The less trodden path to second citizenship.

For Africans wishing to obtain second citizenship, Citizenship by Investment offers an attractive route. The concept was pioneered by the Caribbean islands St Kitts and Nevis, which remain one of the world's premier destinations for investors wishing to follow this route.

Within the past decade, officially recorded global remittances are said to have doubled. In 2009, amid the bleak prospects of the global crisis aftermath, they amounted to $317bn, according to the World Bank records. Forecasts for 2019 expect global remittances to reach $667bn. The latest figures indicate that Nigeria is among the top five countries worldwide in attracting remittance inflows from its diaspora.

Nonetheless, this global economic force remains largely untapped, with a quarter of global remittances having potential to be reinvested productively back home. Moreover, it is said that an average of 8.96% is shaved off in transfer costs to sub-Saharan Africa, while the industry remains generally unregulated in the whole of Africa. But this is about to change. New rules to protect African investors are being developed as we speak, with support from the British and French governments in particular. The aim is to encourage the African diaspora to invest sustainably in their home countries, which would also yield benefits for local entrepreneurs, as well as healthier growth for the recipient economy. The long-term vision is to raise the living standards of developing countries and reverse the brain drain as much as possible. Furthermore, the time for impact investing has never been more suitable in Africa. In the meantime, however, the reality is that immigration of a wide spectrum of income earners is higher than ever before.

This trend is supported by a survey conducted last year in South Africa by London-based legal advisory CS Global Partners, whose experts specialise in citizenship and residence by investment. The key findings of their research suggests that two thirds of South Africans are actively considering second citizenship, citing turbulent political and economic environment in the region as the main driver.

A staggering 97% of participants said that they would like a second citizenship, with 70% saying they would be willing to relocate if they had a second passport. The need for an alternative citizenship in order to move abroad is said to be motivated by their concern with their family's future, according to 60% of interviewees, while half said that a second citizenship would provide them with a plan B as regards security in the context of the country's uncertain future.

Luckily, where ancestry or marriage are not possible routes to second citizenship, there is a less trodden path for African nationals to choose, known as Citizenship by Investment (CBI). The idea was born in the Caribbean islands of St Kitts and Nevis in 1984 and the concept is self-explanatory: one can obtain the citizenship of St Kitts and Nevis in return for an investment into the country's economy.

Since then, the investor immigration industry--which consists of both residence by investment and citizenship by investment programmes--has evolved steadily. While residence by investment programmes are more numerous, they also ask for much higher investments. They are also better suited for those who wish to physically spend more time in that specific country.

Conversely, citizenship by investment programmes tend to fit the needs of more globally-mobile investors. Moreover, since citizenship as a concept presumes a much closer relationship between an individual and the state, it also comes with higher responsibilities, as well as benefits. Consequently, with a stronger bond to the state, an individual's citizenship can also be passed down to future generations, meaning that, no matter what the social, economic or political conditions are back home, a family can always count on its St Kitts and Nevis citizenship--a member of the Commonwealth--and the support that comes with it, such as security, access to better healthcare and education.

Two paths to citizenship

In St Kitts and Nevis, there are two paths to obtaining its citizenship: one is through a $150,000 one-off contribution to the Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF) for a single applicant, while the other is an investment in pre-approved property valued at $400,000 minimum. The former is often cited as the faster and more cost-effective route, especially for larger families. Furthermore, the generated funds from the SGF go towards socio-economic development initiatives on the islands, to the benefit of both native and economic citizens.

In addition to minimum investment levels, one of the greatest differentiating factors between CBI programmes is the reputation each country has built externally over the years. As the world's financiers are vigilantly bracing themselves for another global crisis, financial supervisors have become much tougher on capital requirements, more empowered to react and less tolerant of subprime banking products, which has led to higher bank resilience. For CBI programmes, this has meant closer collaboration with international bodies and stronger due diligence checks.

The latter refer to the vetting process that St Kitts and Nevis, for example, undertake in relation to each of their applicants. In practice, this involves a series of security checks that ensures that anyone who wishes to become a citizen of St Kitts and Nevis is of the highest moral standing. This reassures St Kitts and Nevis' international partners that the economic citizens it adopts are, indeed, reputable investors.

The due diligence framework makes up for the lack of requirement for St Kitts and Nevis citizenship hopefuls to know the language or history of the country, as is often the case with other citizenships. Moreover, in an effort to fit the time restraints of typically busy investors, St Kitts and Nevis does not require citizenship aspirants to visit the twin islands before, during or after the application process. However, it is certainly recommended, as the luxurious Caribbean beaches are more than inviting.

Proven expertise

One of the main reasons investors choose St Kitts and Nevis, besides its longevity and proven expertise, is the fact that it offers its citizens the possibility of travelling to nearly 160 countries and territories on a visa-free or visa-on-arrival basis. This includes business hubs like the UK, Italy, France, Hong Kong and Singapore.

The list of visa-free destinations continues to grow and St Kitts and Nevis' efforts in nurturing diplomatic relations has been recognised in the latest edition of the CBI Index--an independent report published by the Financial Times' Professional Wealth Management magazine. When comparing all 13 jurisdictions that offer active CBI programmes, the experts at the FT's PWM also scored St Kitts and Nevis maximum points in the area of ease of processing--a testament to the country's unrivalled experience and continued improvement of the programme.

For those who want to speed up their application, St Kitts and Nevis has an Accelerated Application Process (AAP) feature in place, which promises eligible applicants their citizenship and issuance of their passport within 60 days.

With migration-related figures soaring year on year, both leading and emerging economies must cater to the ever-changing needs of those at the giving and receiving ends. Citizenship by Investment is a relatively new concept and it seems that, back in 1984, St Kitts and Nevis had a vision that only now is materialising more vividly. How the rest of the world adapts to embracing programmes like citizenship by investment is a matter of time.

CS Global Partners

CS Global Partners is an international, award-winning, industry-leading, legal consultancy firm specialising in citizenship and residence solutions. Headquartered in the heart of London with 10 offices worldwide, CS Global Partners offers tailored, strategic advice to both the clients and the countries it represents. Driving economic prosperity and transforming lives in the process, CS Global Partners transcends the traditional investment immigration industry framework, supporting the governments of Dominica, Saint Lucia and St Kitts and Nevis to promote their CBI programmes. In doing so, CS Global Partners leads by example, providing investors and governments alike with unparalleled, intelligent citizenship solutions.

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Caption: Brimstone Hill Fortress in St Kitts has superb views in all directions.
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Title Annotation:Communique
Comment:The less trodden path to second citizenship.(Communique)
Publication:African Business
Geographic Code:60AFR
Date:Dec 1, 2018
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