By Moustafa Daly
Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment Unit introduced personal interviews to all citizenship applicants starting September 1, 2023.
This is the third Caribbean nation to add this measure as a mandatory prerequisite to obtaining citizenship, following Dominica and St. Kitts and Nevis last week.
"We thank you for your understanding in this matter as we strive to preserve the integrity and reputation of the Grenada CBI programme,” said the unit in a statement.
The move comes months after Caribbean nations met with United States representatives over guidelines for CBI programs in the region. “All of the Caribbean countries met with the US months ago, and they had discussed main points that they want all the jurisdictions to comply with. I think that's what triggered Grenada's interview process,” says Richard Hallam, CBI director at Ora Caribbean.
More changes are coming for Caribbean CBI programs
All Caribbean CBI programs are expected to soon enact similar measures as per an agreement with the United States (US) earlier this year, which stipulated adding personal interviews, among other measures, to tighten the programs’ due diligence and risk mitigation.
Last week, rumors circulated that the European Union (EU) was making similar demands to Caribbean nations to address the bloc’s security concerns. Also, the European Commission reportedly demanded raising the investment threshold for all programs to start at $200,000 at least. In addition, it allegedly asked that all due diligence be done by US, EU, or United Kingdom-based third-party firms.
“I know the head of the CBI in Grenada has been working on soliciting quotes from companies that are able to properly conduct due diligence so it's taking them a couple of months to pull that together,” reveals Hallam. “So, I think it's more in line with the original US requests than it is with the EU. But obviously, it works in tandem with what the EU has requested and what St Kitts acted on quite swiftly.”
Shortly after the rumors made the rounds last week, St. Kitts and Nevis announced overhauling its program, including doubling the investment threshold to $250,000 per principal applicant, seemingly complying with all EU demands in that matter. However, the EU demands are yet to be made in any official capacity.
As to whether Grenada would soon follow suit, Hallam says the program is already exhaustive.
“Our program has always been the most expensive in the Caribbean, and we don't apologize for that,” says Hallam. “And our due diligence has always been exceptional because of the E-2 visa treaty and the necessity to have to go through Homeland Security [...] so I don't believe we've really needed to change much in regard to the mechanics of the program.”
Caribbean nations to maintain their CBI offerings
Moreover, the EU is said to have asked all CBI nations to halt all promotional material advertising visa-free access to the Schengen Area to attract candidates.
All Caribbean nations are expected to comply with the alleged EU demands as CBI programs have become an indispensable source of revenue for most.
“All Caribbean nations want to ensure that we maintain our CBI programs; they're great sources of income to the country and are enabling a lot of countries to pay off debt, build infrastructure programs, repair roads, build schools, etc.,” Hallam concludes.
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