28 April 2022

CBI ranking criteria and the Caribbean’s role as forerunners of CBI and continued dominance

There’s no doubt that the proliferation and accessibility of Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs worldwide are thanks to the significant economic benefits each country gains from them. Investment by high-net-worth individuals can inject significant capital and bolster economic growth in a variety of ways for each jurisdiction. This has in turn led to a plethora of investment options offered by various CBI programs, as well as a variety of CBI requirements and regulations.

Along with the recent failure of a couple of programs, this has necessitated the creation of a CBI index and ranking system that not only evaluates the advantages of each program, but also the due diligence and ‘product’ offered by each jurisdiction. This ranking system is intended to help wealthy individuals choose the best CBI programs and jurisdictions. It also ensures that these jurisdictions and their passports are, and will continue to be, respected by the International community.

In 2021, the world’s top CBI programs are offered by five Caribbean nations: Dominica and St Kitts & Nevis in a joint 1st place, Grenada in 3rd, St Lucia in 4th, and in 5th place – Antigua and Barbuda.

The Global CBI INDEX and CBI Ranking Criteria

The CBI Index is a rating system designed to measure the performance and appeal of global citizenship by investment (CBI) programmes across a diverse range of indicators. Its purpose is to provide a rigorous and systematic mechanism for appraising programmes, to facilitate the decision-making process for individuals considering them, and to bring value to the CBI industry.(https://cbiindex.com/methodology/)

The CBI ranking criteria include scores on the best offerings in:

Freedom of Movement: the power of the passport. Jurisdictions are scored according to how many countries an ordinary citizen can travel to on that passport without a visa.

Standard of Living: jurisdictions are ranked according to factors that impact or contribute to a high quality of life. These include crime rates, general security, economic status and growth, health and education facilities, and – last but not least – political and civil liberties.

Minimum Investment Outlay: the highest scores are awarded to jurisdictions with the lowest investment thresholds.

Mandatory Travel or Residence: the highest scores go to jurisdictions with the least travel or residence conditions. This includes travel for the purposes of attending an application interview, swearing an oath of allegiance, or providing biometric information.

Citizenship Timeline: how long it takes to get citizenship, with the highest scores awarded to countries that offer the fastest ‘time to passport’.

Ease of Processing: The most points go to countries with the most streamlined application processes – inclusive of the procedures involved in real estate purchases and any non-financial vetting and citizenship requirements.

Due Diligence: the highest score goes to jurisdictions that have the tightest background checks on applicants. These include financial due diligence to ensure that the jurisdiction is, and is likely to remain, compliant with international reporting regulations and is not at risk of harboring criminals (as occurred recently with Cypress).

Family: factors include how many family members can apply along with the main applicant, what further investment is required and when family members can obtain citizenship.

Certainty of Product: points are awarded for longevity, stability, popularity, reputation, and other risk-minimizing factors such as financial transparency and adherence to international reporting and due diligence recommendations and requirements.

Why the Caribbean still leads the way in citizenship-by-investment:

While nations such as Vanuatu in the Pacific and European jurisdictions such as Malta, Portugal, and Ireland (among others) are hot on their heels, it’s no surprise that the Caribbean continues to dominate in the CBI market.

Historically, the Caribbean has led the way in citizenship-by-investment. The first country in the world to offer CBI was St Kitts & Nevis in 1984, then Dominica in 1993.

The Caribbean programs are established, and the respective governments are currently highly motivated to build on them to meet their economic and development goals.

They are also experienced enough to meet international regulatory requirements without sacrificing the main drawcards: 2nd passports that offer high levels of global mobility along with tax-free banking and/or other favorable tax regulations, and – last but certainly not least – complete anonymity and financial privacy.

These jurisdictions also have a vested interest in making their citizenship-by-investment programs the most attractive, as they are economically dependent on outside investment to bolster all but exclusively tourism-dependant GDPs.

Add to that the lifestyle factors unique to the Caribbean, and it’s easy to see why these island nations lead the way in CBI programs.

None have travel or residence requirements – other than Antigua & Barbuda which normally requires that adult applicants (over age 18) swear an ‘Oath of Allegiance’ within its borders and spend a minimum of 5 days in the country over the 5 year period required to obtain permanent residence.

None require an interview in person, and there are no culture or language tests.
All applications for the CBI programs are processed quickly and efficiently, with exceptional due diligence applied to vetting applicants and the sources of their income and capital.

Caribbean island´s CBI is no longer the sole pursuit of the super-wealthy jet-set – though it could be argued that a Caribbean island passport still carries a similar level of status.

With that old ‘Peter Stuyvesant advert’ image to boost interest along some of the lowest investment thresholds of all global CBI programs, there has never been a better time to become a citizen of a Caribbean island paradise.

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