Antigua and Barbuda was rated one of the Caribbean’s best citizen by investment program in 2017, but tough regional competition has the twin islands struggling to stay on top.
Antigua & Barbuda
Antigua & Barbuda Investment Immigration Programs Overview
Antigua and Barbuda has raised more than U.S.$200 million since opening its doors to immigration investors in 2013, placing it as one of the top Caribbean CBI programs in 2017. Like its regional rivals, Antigua and Barbuda offer a donation-based CBI program that provides a quick route to a second passport, with almost no residency requirement for successful applicants — a combination that has drawn large numbers of “plan B” investors from China, Russia and the Middle East.
Facing stiff regional competition, the twin islands slashed the cost of their donation-based CBI program in 2017, reducing the price from U.S.$200,000 to U.S.$100,000 for a family of four, in a move that officials say is a temporary measure that will be reviewed in late 2018. Antigua also offers real-estate and enterprise CBI options, but heavily promotes its donation-based immigration options.
Antigua and Barbuda’s CBI program is fighting to maintain its position as one of the most popular Caribbean immigration investment initiatives — and in practical terms, that means lowering costs for investors. There are three pathways to an Antiguan passport:
- Donation to the National Development Fund: By far the most popular option, the donation route confers citizenship on investors who simply cut a check to the islands’ National Development Fund. A U.S.$100,000 donation will cover a family of up to four people, including dependent children aged up to 25, and parents aged 65 or more; for larger families, the donation increases to U.S.$125,000. Investors must also pay U.S.$25,000 in processing fees, plus U.S.$15,000 per additional dependent beyond a family of four.
- Real estate investment: Investors can also qualify for citizenship by spending U.S.$400,000 or more on qualifying real estate. More than 40 development projects have been approved for CBI funding, of which most are condos, hotels, or resort properties. Investors must also pay a U.S.$50,000 fee for a family of four or less, plus U.S.$15,000 per additional dependent, and can’t re-sell their property for at least five years after gaining citizenship. On May 1, 2018, a Limited Time Offer was introduced where two co-investors can make a joint investment of at least $400,000 in an approved real estate project, with each applicant contributing at least $200,000 towards the investment. This option will remain open until October 31, 2018 at which point it will be reviewed.
- Business investment: It’s also possible to obtain citizenship through business-related investments, with individuals required to invest at least U.S.$1.5 million to qualify. It’s possible to bring the cost down by clubbing together: multiple investors can obtain citizenship through a single business venture, as long as they invest at least U.S.$5 million in total, and each investor commits to at least U.S.$400,000 to the project. Like real-estate investors, business investors must also pay U.S.$50,000 in processing fees for a family of four, plus U.S.$15,000 for additional dependents. They can’t divest of their investment for at least five years after gaining citizenship. Investors considering the business route are also encouraged to discuss their plans with the Antigua & Barbuda Investment Authority.
Regardless of the investment pathway selected, all applicants must also pay due diligence fees pegged at U.S.$7,500 each for the applicant and their spouse, U.S.$2,000 for minor dependents aged 12-17 years, and U.S.$4,000 for each dependent aged 18 or older. There are no due diligence fees for children under the age of 12 years.
PERMANENT RESIDENCE PROGRAM
Since 1995, Antigua and Barbuda has offered a permanent residency program designed to encourage high net worth individuals to establish tax residency in the islands. To qualify, investors must maintain a permanent abode in Antigua and Barbuda, spend at least 30 days a year in Antigua and Barbuda, maintain an income of at least U.S.$100,000, and make a flat tax payment of U.S.$20,000 per year. In exchange, residents receive access to a highly favorable tax jurisdiction, with no worldwide income tax, no inheritance taxes, and no capital gains tax.
How To Apply
Applicants must work with licensed agents to prepare their applications, as agents prepare paperwork and serve as a point of contact with the Antiguan government throughout the process. Antigua and Barbuda require standard biographical documentation, including a police check, and officials pay close attention to the applicant’s financial records and sources of wealth when considering applications.
Donation-based applicants can expect to receive their passport in about 100 days, but real-estate and enterprise applications can take longer to adjudicate. For real-estate applications, applicants should first secure a binding purchase and sale agreement for an approved development project, conditional upon the approval of their CBI application. Once the application is approved, applicants complete their transaction, and provide documentation to the government to finalize the CBI process and receive their passport.
Successful applicants must take an oath of allegiance as soon as practicable in order to confirm their citizenship. This can either be done at overseas embassies or consular offices or can be done on the applicant’s first trip to Antigua while fulfilling their 5-day residency requirement.
Antigua’s passport allows visa-free travel to more than 150 countries and territories including Hong Kong, Singapore, the U.K., and the Schengen Area. The Antiguan passport is valid for five years but can be renewed if the holder has spent at least five days physically present in Antigua during the term of its validity.
Antigua and Barbuda rely on tourism to drive their GDP, and the devastation wrought by Hurricane Irma in 2017 has caused serious problems not just through its direct impacts, but also by leading fewer tourists to visit the islands. The islands have been independent from the UK since 1981, but still benefit from a parliamentary democratic political system and a stable, independent judiciary grounded in British common law. Despite the islands’ sunny weather and countless golden beaches, however, most CBI investors spend little or no time in Antigua and Barbuda, preferring to obtain their passports without traveling to the islands.