The Covid-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on travel plans as countries clamped their borders shut. Even after restrictions were lifted, many countries found themselves unwelcome, thanks to high infection rates and/or low vaccination numbers. For companies, looking to kickstart their regular business schedules, this has proved a dampener. The answer, many are finding, is to get their executives a second passport, in the hope that even if one country is on the red list, the other country’s citizenship would allow entry. One of the more popular destinations to pick up a secondary citizenship is Antigua & Barbuda. An Antiguan passport allows for visa-free travel to 165 countries including the United Kingdom and the European countries that fall into the Schengen zone.
The island nation in the West Indies, made acquiring citizenship-by-investment or CIP, more attractive by cutting the minimum investment amount from USD 200 thousand, to USD 100 thousand.
There are four options for investment to acquire Antiguan citizenship – USD 100 thousand to the National Development Fund, USD 150 thousand to the University of West Indies Fund, USD 200 thousand in real estate or USD 1.5 million in business. From the end of 2020, it has become cheaper to add family members. For children 5 years of age and under, the fee per child is USD 10,000 and for family members in the age group of 6-17 years of age, the fee to be added to the CIP is USD 20,000. For additional adult dependents, the fee has been reduced from USD 75,000 to USD 50,000.
The application process through investment in businesses or real estate, is similar to that of the NDF, namely, upon submission of an application due diligence fees and 10% of the government processing fees have to be paid by the applicant. Upon receipt of a letter of approval, applicants are asked to pay the balance of the government processing fees and their business investment or purchase price of the real estate unit within a 30 day period.
Antigua & Barbuda is a member of the United Nations, the British Commonwealth, Caricom and the Organisation of American States (OAS) among many other international organisations. Holders of the Antigua and Barbuda passport enjoy visa free travel to approximately 165 countries, including the United Kingdom and the countries of the Schengen area. Holders of this passport, like all Caribbean countries, do require a visa to enter the US as they are not a member of the Visa Waiver Program.
The island nation has around 365 beaches of clean turquoise waters, the lush tropical islands of Antigua and Barbuda are an inviting paradise and considered to be one of the most beautiful places in the world. As a result, tourism is the key driver of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and generates around 60% of the island’s income, with key target markets being the U.S., Canada and Europe. Antigua & Barbuda is a twin-island state located between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. It consists of two major inhabited islands, Antigua and Barbuda, and a number of smaller islands.
In addition to its geographic proximity to the US and its language capability, Antigua & Barbuda can also offer investors in this sector a number of further benefits: 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, the largest user of outsourcing services worldwide estimated at 70% of market demand. 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.
Automotive Industries spoke to Verlyn Faustin, CIP, Licensed Agent and Chairman, Cives Mundi Inc.
AI: What are some of the changes made by the government of Antigua & Barbuda to the CIP?
Faustin: Antigua has temporarily suspended its 5 day residency requirements due to Covid pandemic. That means that when renewing the passport, failure to fulfil that requirement will not affect the renewal process. Oaths can now be taken at Antigua consulates worldwide. Since April 2020, restrictions have been lifted for Iraqi nationals. Iraqi nationals can now apply for passports.. The NDF processing fee now stands at USD 30,000 for a family of up to 4 persons – a slight increase from $25,000. Real estate has become cheaper as the government application fee for real estate and business has been reduced by USD 20,000 (now USD 30,000 instead of USD 50,0000). The government application fee is now on par with the government donation.
AI: What are the other incentives?
Faustin: Apart from the reduction in investment requirements, post citizenship additions makes it easy to include family members or dependants any time.. A future spouse of the principal applicant can pay USD 50,000 when applying. A future spouse of dependent children where the dependent child is financially dependent on the principal applicant; and a future child of a dependent child. A fee of USD 10,000 is to be payable for children under 5 years of age and USD 20,000 for children 6 — 17 years of age.
AI: So it has become easier to get family members into the CIP scheme?
Faustin: Yes, the new CIP legislation expands scope of dependants, makes it possible for investors to add more family members, even touching the third generation – for example, a current spouse of the principal applicant. a child of the principal applicant, or of his or her spouse, who is 0 – 30 years of age and is financially dependent on the principal applicant. Or a child of the principal applicant, or of his or her spouse, who is 18 years or older but who is physically or mentally handicapped and who is living with and is fully supported by the principal applicant. A parent or grandparent of the principal applicant, or of his or her spouse, who is fifty-five years of age or older and who is financially dependent on the principal applicant. A sibling of the principal applicant, or of his or her spouse, if unmarried.
AI: What are some of the tax incentives on offer for business investors?
Faustin: All foreign investments in the Antigua and Barbuda Special Economic Zone are exempt from import and export duties, income tax, and inheritance tax. Employees working in the ABSEZ also do not have to pay taxes – all business activities are permanently tax-free. Foreign companies that choose to invest in the ABSEZ Special Economic Zone will improve their international competitiveness, with zero risk and high returns and benefit from it lifetime. The purpose of Antigua and Barbuda Special Economic Zone is to attract non-governmental organizations and foreign businessmen to invest directly in the ABSEZ Special Economic Zone. The ABSEZ is set on over 1,600 acres of prime land in northeast Antigua, consisting of three islands and one large peninsula.
AI: What services does Cives Mundi offer?
Faustin: We engage with our clients at all stages along the process. We assist in clarifying and consolidating the clients’ interest in the citizenship by investment program. We take the lead in acquiring and submitting all relevant documents for citizenship, for the business option as well as for ownership of your real estate option. We possess the agency to facilitate and coordinate the realization of our clients’ business ideas. This is all a part of CMI’s optimized and complete service package to our clients around the globe.