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How and Why to Become a Citizen of Antigua & Barbuda

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Charmaine Quinland-Donovan

We talk to Charmaine Quinland-Donovan, CEO of the world’s leading Citizenship by Investment Programme in Antigua and Barbuda about how the Unit she heads up continues to successfully respond and adapt to any and all challenges. When blended with a famously proactive operational and strategic approach that sees investment criteria constantly reviewed and upgraded to ensure the programme remains best in class, it is small wonder citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda is proving to be more popular than ever before for investors from across the globe.

 What are the most noteworthy recent initiatives undertaken by the Unit and what exciting forthcoming developments can we look forward to in 2021 in respect of Antigua and Barbuda’s CIP?

The most noteworthy change to date is our comprehensive expansion of the definition of ‘Dependent’.  Prior to November 2020, a dependent was the applicant’s spouse, offspring or adoptive child up to 28 years old, and parents or grandparents of the spouse or principal applicant. However, the term has now been expanded to include:

  • Children of the principal applicant and their spouse, up to age 30 and financially dependent on the principal applicant;
  • A sibling of the principal applicant, or of his or her spouse, if unmarried;
  • A current or future spouse of the principal applicant;
  • A current or future spouse of dependent children where the dependent child is financially dependent on the principal applicant.
  • A future child of a dependent child (the principal applicant’s grandchild).
  • A child of the principal applicant, or his/her spouse, who is 18 years or older but who is physically or mentally handicapped and who is living with and is fully supported by the principal applicant; 
  • A parent or grandparent of the principal applicant, or his or her spouse, who us 55 years of age or older and who is financially dependent on the principal applicant; and
  • A sibling of the principal applicant, or of his or her spouse, if unmarried.

The administration of the Oath of Allegiance was also recently amended. All citizens by registration are required to take the Oath of Allegiance and by statute, this must be done in Antigua and Barbuda.  This requirement allows our newest citizens the opportunity to visit the country, a feature of the programme which is highly regarded. However, in light of the current global pandemic and the travel restrictions resulting therefrom, many citizens were unable to travel to Antigua and Barbuda. The Government saw the need to make allowances for successful applicants to take the oath of allegiance by designating our overseas offices and missions as locations to which citizens could more easily travel to swear the oath. Additionally, using various audio-visual platforms, individuals may also take the Oath of Allegiance in their respective jurisdictions using a local notary public. In these instances, the Unit facilitates the ceremonies, which provides the opportunity to meet and interact with many of our fellow citizens. All of these changes are governed by legislative amendments.

Looking forward, the Unit has a number of exciting interactive events which we intend to launch during 2021, and we are eagerly awaiting the ability to return to in-person promotional activities and market scoping exercises, reconnecting with our network of promoters and marketers.  We are working assiduously towards further reducing our processing time for applications, with a target of 60 – 70 days.  

In what ways is the Covid-19 pandemic continuing to influence Antigua and Barbuda’s Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP)? Can you articulate why now, in these uncertain times, investors should be considering the twin-island nation more than ever?

The pandemic has served to strengthen the resilience and flexibility of our programme. From our staffing protocols to our operational procedures, we have re-engineered our processes and deployed our officers to ensure optimal performance, even in a restrictive business climate. Programme modifications, including those referenced earlier, have increased our competitive advantage and have further heightened interest in our programme.  

Our programme has the most diverse options through which individuals can apply for citizenship. For example, it is one of the two programmes in the region which offers a business investment option through which applicants can invest in existing business opportunities or new ventures, and it is the most competitively priced in the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS). The government has been encouraging investment in agriculture, agro-processing, manufacturing, technology and other economically viable industries to support the nation’s developmental goals. The Antigua and Barbuda programme is known for its foresight and innovation and this trend can be expected to continue into the foreseeable future.

Our development partners have also been working towards expanding investment opportunities even in these unprecedented times. Look out for new real estate boutique developments and expansions in existing high-end properties which offer incomparable returns to the savvy investor.

 What benefits has the Citizenship by Investment Programme brought to the people of Antigua and Barbuda? 

The benefits of the Programme to the people of Antigua and Barbuda are significant. More than US$200 million from inception to date has been generated by the CIP. These earnings have been utilized to meet monthly Social Security and pension shortfalls, support the National Solid Waste clean-up programme, contribute to the project to provide affordable homes for Antiguans and Barbudans, support social programmes and health care, and support the Barbuda Council in meeting its expenses.

With the knowledge of its importance in mind, we take pride in the extensive process involved in processing citizenship applications. This process includes but is not limited to analyses by regional and international law enforcement agencies and where adverse information is discovered, the application is denied.

Can you outline in a nutshell the series of steps interested parties must take when applying for citizenship?

 Upon submission of the application the applicant is required to pay the full due diligence fees and 10% of the government processing fee. After which, a rigorous due diligence process is performed and a decision of Approved, Delayed for cause, or Denied is made. Upon receipt of a letter of approval:

For applications submitted under the National Development Fund and University of the West Indies Fund options, the applicant is required to pay the balance of the government processing fees, passport fees and their contribution. The fees are paid directly to the Unit and the contribution must be made to the Government Special Fund within a 30-day period. 

For applications submitted under the Real Estate Investment option, the applicant will then pay the balance of the government processing fee and complete the investment in accordance with the terms of the Sale and Purchase and Escrow Agreements.

For applications submitted under the Business Investment option, the applicant is required to pay the balance of the government processing fees and their business investment amount within a 30-day period. Due to the potential varied nature of such investments, any escrow agreement will be negotiated between the parties. Transfer of the investment sums must be made within a 30-day period from issuance of an approval letter.

Once all outstanding fees are satisfied and the investment is made, a certificate of registration of Citizenship will be issued for both the primary applicant and their family members included in the application. These are sent to the passport office with the passport applications, and any accompanying documentation. Upon completion of this process, the chosen authorized agent/representative will forward your Passports and Citizenship Certificate document to the successful applicant.

What are the primary motives driving applicants to seek citizenship by investment in Antigua and Barbuda? Is there a typical investor or applicant? What type of investor would you say the programme is best suited to?

 Mobility is the main attraction for individuals seeking out second citizenship. As the awareness of the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Programme rises, prospective applicants are discovering unique benefits for citizens of this twin-island beauty, which has been influencing their decision to make this their programme of choice.  Following are just a few of these captivating benefits:

  • Visa-free access to more than 150 countries, including Hong Kong, Singapore, United Kingdom, and Schengen area; 
  • Decision rendered in 60 to 80 days on most files;
  • No restrictions on dual nationality;
  • Citizenship for life, once residency requirement is met;
  • Straightforward application process; no minimum net worth requirement or previous business experience;
  • No tax on worldwide income, inheritance, capital gains or investment returns;
  • No annual application quota;
  • The most diverse investment options available;
  • Stable economy and democracy;
  • World class health care system and facilities;
  • Well-established legal and regulatory framework supporting civil and commercial relationships;
  • Well-educated workforce; skills and abilities for the modern workplace;
  • Internationally comparable education system for all ages;
  • A warm and welcoming people as a result of the country’s long history in high-end service delivery;
  • Safe and secure paradise from where you can live freely and work remotely. 

We have seen a surge in the number of inquiries from persons seeking safer, less densely populated options, and countries which have demonstrated a greater ability to manage the pandemic. Applications from the traditional jurisdictions have been consistent, however – particularly for 2020 – and we have noticed an increase in applications from Southwest Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. The Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Programme is the premier choice for families, and the recent modification to the UWI option – which caps the eligible investment at US$150K including fees for a family of 6 – has made us the most attractive and popular choice for large families.  

Prospective clients can rest assured that the Antigua and Barbuda CIP is the premier choice for second citizenship.