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Antigua Gov’t warned too many passports being accessed through CIP

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ANTIGUA OBSERVER – The Gaston Browne administration is being warned that the high number of people accessing the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) through the National Investment Fund (NIF) option could devalue the country’s passport. Economist McCarthy Marie and Political Analyst Arvel Grant made the comments after Browne’s revelation that of the 510 passports issued under the CIP since its inception, 416 were issued under the NIF, 89 were under the Real Estate option, while only five were under the Business Investment area. Under the NIF option, the applicant is required to make a contribution in the minimum sum of US$250,000 per application, in the form of a one-time payment. “There is a world ranking on the power of passports to see how many countries one can get into without a visa. So, the most powerful passport is the one that gets you into the most countries without needing a visa …I can see a little problem there, where if too many people go for that (NIF) offer then the countries to which they can enter without visa, some of them will get nervous and might then require visas and then devalue the passport,” Marie said. The economist said although government may hope the other CIP investment options would be chosen over the NIF, the reality is, many applicants under these programmes are usually seeking a passport with visa-free strength and other associated benefits. He pointed to the situation where Dominican citizens are now required to have visas to travel to Canada. This requirement, Marie said, arose after Canada became concerned that many Chinese were turning up in that country (Canada) with the Dominica passport, which they obtained through the CIP offered by that OECS country. Marie said what makes Antigua & Barbuda’s NIF investment option more attractive, is that the applicants do not have to spend time in Antigua or build a house and this option is the cheapest of the four. Grant, in turn, suggested that government has to find a way to make the other CIP application options more attractive to create a balance. Currently, to qualify for citizenship under the Real Estate option, the government requires applicants to make an investment in designated, officially approved real estate with a value of at least US$ 400,000 plus the payment of government processing fees and due diligence fees. In addition, two or more applicants who have executed a binding sale and purchase agreement may apply jointly for citizenship by investment provided that each applicant contributes the minimum investment of US$ 400,000. –

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