Demand for Caribbean property as a means for South Africans to obtain a second passport, has spiked
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South Africans are now actively looking for ‘Plan B’ options and greater travel freedom as they are concerned not just about the economic outlook for the country but policies around expropriation and taxation of the wealthy, says Nadia Read Thaele, founder and CEO of LIO Global, a specialist firm in second residency and citizenship by investment. Investing in a CBI (citizenship by investment) programme offers a way of securing a second residency or citizenship with added benefits of access to mainstream destinations such as the USA, UK and Euro Zone for extended periods. These programmes generally allow you to invest in property or pay a sum of money as a government contribution.
Investment in the Caribbean has also been relatively unaffected by the Covid pandemic, she says. The Grenadian passport is the most popular and attractive to South Africans as it gives one access to work and live in the USA via the E-2 Investment Visa Treaty. A major advantage of the Caribbean programmes is that South Africans do not need to leave home to secure citizenship and there are no language tests or requirement to reside in the countries for any period of time. The countries are also tax friendly jurisdictions.
The cost of these has come down recently making them very affordable even for upper middle class earners. The citizenship programmes start from as little as R2,5m or a property investment of just over R3,3m for a family of four. This is basically the price of an upper middle-class home these days or an investment property on the Atlantic seaboard, she adds.
High success rate
Read Thaele says her company has had a 100% success rate on applications to date. The Caribbean programmes offer an easy route to citizenship in as little as three to six months depending on the programme. The passports offer visa-free travel access to the UK and Euro Zone for up to 90 out of 180 days, and either China or Hong Kong depending on the country.
You can choose to make a non refundable government donation or invest in a government approved real estate project, which is typically a five-star luxury resort property offering a US$ rental yield. The added benefit of investing in property is that it gives you a second or holiday home and there are rental pools available. In most instances, the property can be sold after a holding period of five years without losing your citizenship. The properties are generally situated in incredible locations and come fully furnished and managed with no annual fees.
The most popular programme for South Africans is Grenada for its access to the USA via the E-2 Visa Treaty, Read Thaele says. It requires a property investment of US$350,000 (±R5,1m) or US$220,000 for fractional ownership, or alternatively, a government donation of US$150,000 for a single applicant (US$200,000 for a family of up to four). The E-2 Visa Treaty allows Grenadian citizens to invest in the USA, and live and work there; as well as send their children to US schools and universities.
The St Kitts and Nevis programme starts at US$200,000 (±R3m) for a property investment which must be held for seven years. Alternatively, a government donation is US$150,000 for a single applicant (US$175,000 with spouse plus US$10,000 per additional dependent). The Dominican programme starts at US$200,000 (±R3m) for a property purchase or government donation of US$100,0000 for a single applicant. St Lucia starts at US$300,000 (R4,4 m) for property and US$100,000 for a government donation for a single applicant (up to US$190,000 with spouse and two dependants).
The most expensive in terms of real estate, is Antigua and Barbuda which requires a property investment of US$400,000 (±R5,9m) or US$200,000 for a half share. It is the most cost effective should a family wish to go the donation route, starting at US$100,000 for a family of four, plus additional costs.
Another exciting alternative option for South Africans, is the Vanuatu citizenship programme. Vanuatu is a South Pacific Ocean Island nation regarded as the fourth happiest country in the world. It offers a quick route to citizenship within two to three months with no minimum stay or language requirement. The passport offers remarkable global travel access including to Australia (just three hours to Sydney) and New Zealand (three and a half hours to Auckland), as well as the UK and Schengen zone countries.
A government donation of US$130,000 (±R2m) is required for a single applicant ranging to US$180,000 (±R2,8m) for a family of four. Read Thaele says the Caribbean countries strongly favour foreign investment and offer investors privacy, reduced tax liability and more, cementing their reputation as the global capital of citizenship by investment. Having granted more than 2,000 passports each year, this has seen significant growth in CBI over the last five years.