Having a second passport providing visa free access to countries around the world helps reduce the stress of travel for busy global executives.
One of the passports of choice is that of Antigua and Barbuda, a sovereign island state in the West Indies of the Americas. Situated near the British Virgin Islands, it is part of the British Commonwealth. Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the United Nations, in addition, Caricom and the Organization of American States (OAS) among many other international organizations.
It is strategically situated in the eastern Caribbean, within sight of several neighboring islands which are also members of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), with easy access to a combined labor pool of over 600,000.
Holders of the Antigua and Barbuda passport enjoy visa free travel to approximately 150 countries, including the United Kingdom and the states in the Schengen area. A visa is required for the United States by all Caribbean countries.
Business Traveler India quotes CS Global Partners CEO Micha-Rose Emmett as saying “in an increasingly unstable world of political and economic turmoil, people are looking for alternate citizenship as a backup plan, in case the situation changes in their home country.” She added that “the results are consistent with the conversations we typically have with clients and stakeholders across the globe. People want to know that their families – and all that they have worked hard to achieve – will be safe and secure not just today, but well into the future.”
Recognizing the need, the Antigua and Barbuda government has introduced a Citizenship by Investment Program, which is also helping to stimulate the island nation’s economy. According to the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU), the options for investment include:
• At least US$1,500,000 in an approved business by an individual
• Where two or more people make a joint investment of at least US$5,000,000 in an approved business, with each partner contributing at least US$400,000 to the joint investment. Antigua and Barbuda is facilitating investment in high-tech industries in pursuit of its vision of being the most wellconnected island in telecommunications in the Eastern Caribbean. The country has two underwater fiber optic cables with landing points for the East Caribbean Fiber System (ECFS) and the Global Caribbean Network (GCN) submarine cable systems. The GCN has links to other islands in the eastern Caribbean extending from the British Virgin Islands to Trinidad and goes onward to the Global Crossings Network, thereby providing connection to other continents. The country is also equipped with satellite earth stations.
“Antigua provides ideal support for information technology services and internet-driven business opportunities that demand more sophisticated financial services,” says Brian Stuart-Young, CEO of Global Bank of Commerce. According to the Antigua and Barbuda Investment Agency (ABIA), the country is a natural near-shore location for the US market – the fastest growing segment of the global ITeS/BPO outsourcing industry.
There has been an increasing trend towards near-shoring by US-based companies, especially for voice related outsourcing. An important driver for the near-shore shift in the ITeS/BPO sector is to improve the quality of customer service – typically with the use of native speakers. Antigua and Barbuda, with its English language capability and neutral accent meets this fundamental criterion.
Other attractions include cultural affinity to the USA and the UK which together account for 80% of the English-speaking outsourcing market, good air connectivity with the USA and UK, time zone similarity to the USA. Plus, the country has a high literacy rate of 98 % (UNDP 2013), and its post-secondary educational institutions offer a range of courses in technology, business and customer service-related disciplines.
Antigua and Barbuda’s network of colleges, as well as accreditation and certification bodies ensure that the level of skills available meets world standards. The country ranked 6th in the category of “Caribbean and Central American Country of the future” in the 2011/12 survey of FDI attractiveness of LAC countries by the Financial Times, 2nd for “Best Infrastructure” and 8th for “Best Human Resources”. It is ranked 14th of 32 countries for ease of doing business in the Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) region, in the 2020 World Bank Doing Business Report. It is ranked first for enforcing contracts, and eighth for protecting minority interests.
Applications for Citizenship by Investment may be submitted through an agent. Another route to citizenship is contributing to the National Development Fund (NDF) of at least US$100,000 per application. The contribution is in the form of a one-time payment, and is used for funding government sponsored projects, including public-private partnerships and approved charitable investments.
Automotive Industries (AI) asked Verlyn Faustin, CIP Licensed Agent and Chairman, Cives Mundi Inc., why the citizenship by investment option is proving popular. Faustin: It’s popular because it is about choice – choosing the country with which you want to be affiliated. Certain factors weigh in to the choice – such as freedom of travel, the economic climate of the country, its democratic politics and its social status.
AI: How does having a second passport provide greater freedom of movement?
Faustin: Business executives, including automotive industry executives, tend to be extremely busy people. Some must apply for visas whenever they are traveling for business or vacation. An alternative passport which offers visa free access to a comprehensive list of countries can eliminate the need for visas. The Antigua and Barbuda passport offers visa free access to 160 countries.
AI: With the automotive industry becoming increasingly globalized, has citizenship by investment become even more popular?
Faustin: Globalization drives the popularity of citizenship by investment programs. Alternative passports make the world more accessible to the automotive executive. It facilitates business. So, yes.
AI: What investment opportunities does Antigua and Barbuda offer global automotive executives?
Faustin: Auto executives can make a contribution to the Government of Antigua and Barbuda. The contribution helps the country to implement its social and infrastructural programs. Another way is to invest in real estate for a second home. Recently the government announced that a purchase of an approved unit worth US$200,000 or more will qualify. An auto executive can also set up a business in Antigua. These are the three routes, but I recommend talking to a licensed agent to see which is the best route for you.
AI: Have instances of citizenship by investment being misused by economic offenders tarnished the scheme?
Faustin: Economic offenders are on the constant lookout to escape the realities of their lives. We have to constantly keep updated and strengthen our program to ensure that persons who offend the law in their countries of origin or residence do not become citizens under our program. The integrity of the program is at stake if they gain access.
AI: How has Antigua and Barbuda tried to keep out law breakers?
Faustin: Information submitted to the Citizenship by Investment Unit is tested and verified through strengthened due diligence protocols. The due diligence experts know their craft. They investigate the background of the applicants to ensure that they are fit and proper to hold an Antigua and Barbuda passport.
AI: Where can people contact you?
Faustin: They can mail me on verlyn.faustin@civesmundiinc. com or call: 00 268 720 7465