Chris Willis, Managing Partner, Henley & Partners Caribbean
In the Eastern Caribbean lies the island nation of Grenada, surrounded by exotic topography, breathtaking beaches and a year-round temperate climate. Dubbed the ‘Spice of the Caribbean’, or the ‘Spice Island’, it is home to just over 100,000 people — and currently the Caribbean’s second-best citizenship-by-investment program, as ranked by Henley & Partners’ 2016 Global Residence and Citizenship Programs (GRCP) index.
In 2013 the Grenadian Parliament passed the Citizenship-by-Investment Act (Act No. 15 of 2013), officially launching this investor migration program. Three years later, in 2016, Henley & Partners was appointed by the Government of Grenada to restructure and enhance the program, relaunching it globally. It is the only citizenship-by-investment program in the Caribbean which offers successful applicants visa-free access to China as well as the opportunity to apply for entering and working in the US under the E-2 Investor Visa Treaty.
In terms of the GRCP, Grenada ranks highly under Physical Visit and Residence requirements, as it does not require applicants to visit the island nation and residence requirements are minimal. The Caribbean state is also ranked 39th on the Henley & Partners Visa Restrictions Index, offering visa-free travel to 121 countries, including the Schengen area, the UK, Singapore, Brazil, China and Hong Kong. On the Henley & Partners – Kochenov Quality of Nationality Index, it is ranked 91st, performing well in terms of its Human Development and Diversity of Travel Freedom scores.
Grenada became independent from Britain in 1974 and is part of the British Commonwealth. Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II is the Head of State and is represented locally by the Governor General, who is appointed on the advice of the Prime Minister. While the country’s official language is English, its culture is influenced by British, African, West-Indian and French heritages. The capital city of St. George’s, for instance, is filled with well-preserved examples of historic French and English architecture and the weekly Saturday market offers visitors an opportunity to buy local products and join a centuries-old tradition where locals sell an assortment of fresh produce, spices and handicrafts.
Dubbed the ‘Spice Island’ for good reason, Grenada’s largest export crops are nutmeg and mace — in fact, Grenada is the world’s second-largest producer of nutmeg after Indonesia. Tourism is a recent phenomenon in Grenada, with 77% of the country’s GDP generated by the service sector — shifting from an agriculture-dominated sector in the last two years. Grenada is also home to St. George’s University, an esteemed off-shore American educational institution offering medical, veterinary, arts and science degrees to over 7,000 international students.
Attractive Citizenship by Investment
In recent years the need to develop a diverse citizenship portfolio alongside the traditional investment portfolio is being seen as an increasingly important part of the growth and sustainability strategies of wealthy families and individuals. This has posed interesting new challenges and opportunities for governments, with the concepts of immigration, citizenship and statehood being debated and contested. Countries are finding themselves not only competing for international talent, but also for investors, entrepreneurs and high net worth individuals and families, and having to find new ways of generating growth based on this new trend of investor migration. Grenada has a great deal to offer, especially in terms of its almost unrivalled visa-free access to the world’s biggest consumer markets. It also requires one of the lowest capital investments compared to the other citizenship programs available in the Caribbean.
In order to qualify for citizenship through the program, an applicant needs to either invest in an approved project (real estate) for a minimum of USD 350,000 or make a minimum non-refundable contribution to the National Transformation Fund (NTF) of USD 200,000. The NTF was established in 2013 as a means of developing Grenada’s economy to be more prosperous and independent. It finances various projects on the island for the benefit of its various industries, including tourism and agriculture. Applicants are subject to stringent vetting and due diligence processes, including thorough background checks. In order to qualify for citizenship, the main applicant must be over the age of 18, in good health, have a clean criminal record and not be involved in any activity that is likely to bring Grenada into disrepute.
The government is working to ensure a fast and efficient application process of around three months from submission to approval, with no visit required. The Grenada program offers wealthy property buyers an exceptional opportunity to maximize the value of their international real-estate acquisitions by connecting them to a quality second nationality. Shrewd investors also recognize the need to develop a diverse citizenship portfolio alongside the traditional investment portfolio in order to reduce their exposure to risk and open up international business opportunities.
Today we are more interdependent and mobile than at any other time in human history. As a result, the concepts of borders and belonging are constantly challenged, with governments worldwide looking for new and innovative ways to attract top international talent, wealthy investors, entrepreneurs, and high net worth individuals and their families to their shores.
By all accounts, citizenship-by-investment programs, in particular Grenada’s, provide a mutually beneficial solution that meets the needs of both governments and a growing movement of global citizens. By offering greater choice, opportunity, freedom and security to these talented and wealthy individuals, governments secure much-needed foreign investment to drive economic growth. And attracting people with proven business success, valuable networks and interesting personal experiences enriches their own citizenry in turn. Grenada has a lot to offer, and in due course the country will no doubt become a hub for global citizens.
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(1) E-2 Treaty Investor Visa allows a national of a “treaty country” – a country with which the U.S. maintains a treaty of commerce and navigation – to reside in the U.S. when investing a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business (generally >$150,000)
(2) EB-5 visa requires at least a $500,000 investment in a U.S. business that creates at least ten (10) jobs for U.S. citizens or green card holders in the first two (2) years. Investors may either start their own businesses as active investors or invest in designated Regional Centers as passive investors