In a period of just around 3 months, foreign nationals of good character and repute have an opportunity to acquire the St Lucian citizenship and passport through the citizenship by investment program if they contribute to the development of St. Lucia. Moreover, investors can include their family members in the citizenship by investment application and applicants, even do not need to travel to the island or meet any residency requirements in St Lucia to obtain and maintain the citizenship.
The beautiful Caribbean Island nation of St Lucia, in exchange of investment and under certain criteria, has been offering its economic citizenship to foreigners since 2015, when the Citizenship by Investment Act (No 14) and regulations to it (No 89 of 2015) have been adopted.
In total, 8 more amendments have been taken by authorities from 2016 to 2020, reforming the St Lucian Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Program and, currently, this economic citizenship scheme has one of the most straightforward and robust application processes.
Who Can Apply?
Foreigners of at least 18 years of age, with good health, no criminal record, and satisfying a minimum qualifying investment for the Citizenship by Investment Program have the right to apply for St Lucian citizenship.
Additionally, the applicants must pass due diligence and vetting procedures, and provide complete and guileless disclosure on all matters pertaining to the application. They must also cover the processing, due diligence, administrative, and professional fees that vary based on the size of their family.
Eligible dependent of the applicant can include family members such as their spouse; children under the age of twenty-two; children of thirty years of age who are fully supported by the applicant; physically or mentally challenged children and parents and who are fully supported by the applicant; parents above fifty-five years of age who are fully supported by the applicant; unmarried siblings below the age of eighteen.
Applications may be rejected due to potential national security risks, or if the applicant has been denied an entry visa to the countries St Lucia has a visa-waiver agreement with.
Notably, investors cannot apply for the citizenship by investment program on their own. Instead, they have to go through an application process with the help of Authorized Agents who will assist them throughout the entire process and submit the application on their behalf.
There are five investment routes available for applicants qualifying for St. Lucian citizenship under the citizenship by investment program:
- Donation of at least US $100,000 to the National Economic Fund (NEF);
- Purchase of real estate approved by the government with a value of at least US $300,000;
- Investment of at least US $1 million in a business;
- Buying government bonds with a value of at least US $500,000.
- COVID-19 Bond Relief: Minimum investment US $250,000 (limited time offer)
The least expensive option is donating to the National Economic Fund (NEF), but the payment is not refundable. The financial threshold of this route, for the single applicant, is US $100,000, but if applying together with a spouse, the amount will equal to US $140,000, while a family of four needs to pay at least US $150,000. Adding each qualifying dependent will cost from US 15,000 to US $25,000. It is possible later after the citizenship is issued for the main applicant to add-on qualifying dependents in the CBI application. For the newborn child (below 12 months of age), the cost is just US $500. For the spouse of a citizen, the amount will increase by US $35,000. Applicants should also cover the cost of Due Diligence checks, which is US $7,500 for the main applicant and US $5,000 for each dependent above the 16 years of age, and processing fees of US $2,000 for the main applicant and US $1,000 for each qualifying dependent.
The financial threshold for the Real Estate investment option under the citizenship by investment program is US $300,000, and the realty must be approved by the government. Generally, these projects are high-end branded hotels and resorts or high-end boutique properties. If applying under this option, the main applicant must also cover a non-refundable administration fee of US $30,000, if applying alone, or US $45,000, in case of spouse inclusion. For each additional dependent, the fee will increase by US $10,000 for adults (more than 18 years of age) and US $5,000 for children (under 18 years old). The applicant should also cover the cost of Due Diligence checks, which is the same as for the NEF option. Applicant applying under the real estate option is required to follow a binding process, sign a sale and escrow agreement; appoint an escrow agent; open an escrow bank account and deposit the minimum investment amount.
The most expensive investment route is the investment in a business, which has a US $1 million thresholds. Enterprise projects can be the following categories: restaurants, cruise ports and marinas, agricultural processing plants, pharmaceutical products, ports, bridges, roads and highways, research institutions and facilities, and offshore universities. If there is a sole applicant, the minimum required investment must be at least US $3,500,000, but it is possible to co-invest in a joint venture together with six investors at least US $1 million, assuming that the total investment will reach US $6 million. All six investors will become eligible to apply for citizenship by investment program of St Lucia. CBI applicants should also cover a non-refundable administration fee of US $50,000 for the main applicants and from US $25,000 to US $35,000 for each dependent. Due Diligence and processing fees are the same as for the above-mentioned options.
The fourth option is to invest at least US $500,000 in St Lucia’s government bonds. Investors must keep them for at least five years, and no interest will be accrued on them. If an investor wants to include a spouse in the citizenship by investment application, then the amount will reach US $535,000, while for the family of four, it will increase to US $550,000. Additional US $25,000 must be paid for each extra dependent. Additionally, the applicant must cover a non-refundable administration fee of US$30,000. Due Diligence and processing fees are the same as for other options.
The fifth option is a special Covid-19 Relief Bond is the limited time offer, which will expire on December 31, 2021 and it has the financial threshold of US $250,000. It is also an interest-free government bond to which no processing fee is payable by the applicant. The bond must be registered and remain in the name of the applicant from the date of the first issue and must be kept for at least five years. Applicants need to cover an administrative fee of US $30,000 after the application for citizenship is approved. If an investor is applying together with a spouse, the amount remains the same – US $250,000 – but the necessary holding period increases to six years; for the family of five, this period is defined as seven years. If the family of five wants to decrease the necessary holding period to five years, then the minimum investment amount should be increased to US $300,000. For each additional qualifying dependent, the threshold will increase by US $15,000. Imbursements for the Due Diligence checks are the same as for other options.
Remarkably, applicants are asked to make any of the above-mentioned investments only after the citizenship application is approved in principle.
As mentioned above, only Authorized Agents can submit the citizenship by investment application on behalf of investors.
St. Lucia allows dual citizenship, and CBI applicants do not need to renounce their original nationalities. Nonetheless, data about granting economic citizenship to foreigners is not disclosed, and no information is sent to the investors’ home countries.
There is no residency requirement neither prior nor after obtaining citizenship. Applicants even do not need to travel to the island – all work will be performed by specialists from the Authorized Agent.
During the initial phase of the application, the selected Authorized Agent will pre-screen the applicants’ backgrounds to ensure the government’s pre-approval. Most companies (agents) ask applicants to cover some professional fees to start the application. Afterward, applicants need to collect all required documents and prepare an application for submission. At this moment, government processing fees and Due Diligence costs are payable.
After about 60 days, once a Due Diligence report is ready, the government of St Lucia makes the decision whether to grant citizenship or to deny it. If approved, investors are required to make a qualified donation or investment.
Roughly after 90 days, the citizenship certificates and passports are issued, and the investor covers all professional fees associated with the agent.
Remarkably, applicants do not have to pass any interview or language tests. Not even special education or managerial experience is required.
According to the official statement, authorities review every application in the same way, without preference or prejudice.
Benefits of St. Lucian Citizenship
Obtaining a second passport through St. Lucia’s citizenship by investment program is beneficial in many ways, as it grants its holder’s visa-free access to more than 146 jurisdictions, including the European Schengen Area, the UK, Most of Latin America, South Korea, Hong-Kong and other major financial and economic hubs.
Economic citizens have the same rights as ordinary citizens, including the right to vote. Citizenship obtained through the CBI program is transferable to future generations.
St Lucia has a very favorable taxation system, with no taxes on capital gains, gifts, wealth, and inheritance. There are no taxes for non-residents at all.
With a second passport from St Lucia, a foreigner can open a bank account in the country and make duty-free trading all across the Caribbean. The is no restriction on the repatriation of profits or on imported capital.
People call St Lucia ‘Paradise’ or ‘Helen of the West Indies’ due to its beautiful nature, fascinating crescent golden and silver sand beaches, and biodiversity. The country is a sought-after destination not only for international recreational tourism but also for foreign investors seeking to enhance their global mobility, as the St Lucian passport is considered as one of the respected and very solid travel documents.