On Thursday, July 27, 2023, the government of St. Kitts and Nevis announced significant changes to its citizenship by investment program. The changes aim to enhance the confidence of international investors, strengthen the program’s integrity and security, and bolster its global reputation. The amendments published by the Citizenship by Investment Unit of St. Kitts and Nevis include raising the minimum required investment amounts for various options and introducing a new investment option to acquire citizenship. Additionally, they reinforce the due diligence procedures that applicants must undergo.
The changes, effective immediately, also encompass alterations to qualified family members’ categories, application processing times, and the collection of registration certificates for acquiring Citizenship by Investment of St Kitts and Nevis. Furthermore, the authorized agents’ operations are regulated, and restrictions on the advertising and promotion of the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program have been imposed.
Key changes made to the St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program include:
- Sustainable Island State Contribution Option (SISC): A new investment option called the Sustainable Island State Contribution (SISC) replaces the Sustainable Growth Fund (SGF) contribution option. This new option involves a non-refundable contribution to support the transformation of St. Kitts and Nevis into a sustainable island nation, achieved through economic diversification, transitioning to clean energy, and increasing local food production. The minimum investment required for this option is USD 250,000, double the previous minimum for the now-cancelled SGF contribution option (USD 125,000). The contribution amount increases based on the number of dependents included in the application as follows:
- Single applicant: USD 250,000
- Main applicant and spouse (or any other dependent): USD 300,000
- Family of four: USD 350,000
- Each additional dependent under 18 years: USD 50,000
- Each additional dependent 18 years or older: USD 75,000
- Real Estate Investment Option: The minimum required investment for the real estate investment option has been increased to USD 400,000 from USD 200,000.
- Private Home Sales Option: The minimum investment requirement for the purchase of approved condominium unit as a private home remains USD 400,000 (the same as before), but the qualified investment amount increases to USD 800,000 for the purchase of a single-family private dwelling home. As part of the Private Home Sale Investment option, the duration of property ownership has been extended to seven (7) years from the previous five (5) years, during which the property purchased cannot be resold.
- Public Benefit Option: The minimum required investment for the public benefit option has been raised to USD 250,000 from USD 175,000.
- Enhanced Due Diligence:
- The due diligence fees have been increased to USD 10,000 for the main applicant and USD 7,500 for each dependent aged 16 or above (previously USD 7,500 for the main applicant and USD 4,000 for dependents).
- Interviews are now required for all main applicants, conducted either virtually online (the default method for most applicants) or in-person in St. Kitts and Nevis or at a location determined by the Citizenship by Investment Unit. Applicants aged 16 or above may also be required to undergo an interview if necessary. These interviews will be conducted by independent specialized firms commissioned by the Citizenship by Investment Unit to perform due diligence checks. Applicants should attend these interviews alone and answer questions themselves without assistance from others or legal representatives. The unit will provide a certified translator if the applicant does not speak English. The increased due diligence fees now cover the cost of these mandatory interviews.
- Due diligence checks will be conducted by independent specialized firms from the United Kingdom, the United States, and Europe, according to the requirements set by the Citizenship by Investment Program’s Board of Governors.
- Eligible Dependents: Changes were made to qualified family members for inclusion in the CBI application as follows:
- Siblings and grandparents are no longer eligible to be included as dependents in St. Kitts and Nevis CBI applications.
- The minimum age for dependent parents has been increased to 65 years from 55 years. Applicants can now include their parents (and the parents of their spouses) aged 65 years or above who are financially dependent and living with the main applicant.
- Additional Amendments: Approved applicants will now be required to personally receive their citizenship certificates (Certificate of Registration) either by attending in person in St. Kitts and Nevis or at an embassy or consulate specified by the Citizenship by Investment Unit and approved by the Program’s Board of Governors.
- Applications Processing Time: The processing time for all St. Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Program options is now 4 months (120 days) from the date of acknowledgment from the Citizenship by Investment Unit (CIU) of the submission of a CBI application, the CIU will advise whether an application is approved-in-principle, denied, or delayed for cause and is still being processed. The new amendments have eliminated the previously available expedited processing option for additional fees, which applicants could use to shorten the processing time of their applications.
Prime Minister the Hon. Dr. Terrence Drew commented on the changes, stating, “Today, St Kitts and Nevis takes another bold step in reaffirming our intention to not only offer the best Citizenship by Investment Programme in the world, but also to offer a programme held together by a tight regulatory system designed to be a best-in-practice defence mechanism against illicit actors and those who try to bypass our high-end investment and contribution options.
We will continue to engage with the international community to provide clarity and assurance to investors that St Kitts and Nevis is a safe destination for long term investments
We have continuously instituted changes that will not only alleviate the concerns of our international stakeholders and position us as a compelling emerging market destination for authentic foreign direct investment, but these changes are also aimed at ensuring that our people continue to be proud to be called a citizen of St Kitts and Nevis.”
Mr. Michael Martin, Head of the Citizenship by Investment Unit, emphasized the key improvements, saying, “In this ever-changing and unpredictable world, it is imperative that the Government of St Kitts and Nevis and its Citizenship by Investment Programme continue to adapt to the needs of our people and to attract the right kind of international investment necessary to uplift our country. While we have always been the benchmark of the global investor immigration industry, we understand that in order to remain as one of the most sought-after economic citizenship programmes in the world, we need to continue to evolve and forge a path for ourselves that is sustainable in the long term.”