Demand for second passports and citizenship by investment (CBI) programmes has spiked since the move to level 3 of the Covid-19 lockdown, says Nadia Read Thaele, MD, LIO Global, a firm specialising in second residency and CBI planning. Grenada currently tops the list, with an increase in applications of 120% compared to last year, Read Thaele says. Most investors are choosing to invest in real estate for the added benefits, but many families opt for the cheaper donation alternative. The success rate to date is 100%, she says.
Grenada is one of the few countries with both an active CBI programme and a bilateral investment treaty that allows living and working in the US via the E-2 Treaty Investor Visa programme. This is a significant drawcard for South Africans who want to gain access to the US, one of the most difficult countries to get into, she says. Property investment starts from about R3,6m or about R5,37m for a family, including costs. This equates to the cost of an apartment in Mouille Point or Melrose Arch.
FNB recently noted that emigration-related property sales account for some 17% of all current sales in South Africa. While many are actively looking to emigrate, Read Thaele says numerous wealthy South Africans are instead investing in offshore property in areas where they can secure a second citizenship.
The Grenada E-2 visa option also costs substantially less than US EB-5 investor visa, and the process is much simpler. The processing time for the E-2 visa is usually about two months, compared to five years for the EB-5 visa – and then it would take another 24 months before you can even move to the US on an EB-5 visa.
Offering more than just the enviable Caribbean lifestyle, Grenada is politically stable and has excellent tax advantages and an investment-friendly regime. As a member of Caricom (Caribbean Community), an organisation of 15 Caribbean nations and dependencies, it offers freedom within the Caricom group, including countries such as The Bahamas and Jamaica.
The Grenada E-2 visa is also one of the fastest routes to second citizenship (under six months), and a passport with visa-free travel to more than 143 countries including the UK, the Schengen states, Singapore, Hong Kong and China. If you invest in the real estate option, you’re allowed to resell after three years (or five years if you sell to another CBI investor) and still keep the passport.
The visa is valid for five years and can be renewed without any limit on extensions, provided that the underlying investment still qualifies. Spouses and dependants are usually granted the same period of stay as the principal. Another significant benefit is that the principal’s children under 21 can attend a public or private school in the US and are eligible for in-state tuition.