Here’s a warning for the politically disaffected: Buying yourself citizenship in the Caribbean nation of St. Kitts & Nevis is going to get harder and more expensive.
The twin-island country of about 51,000 people plans to be “more stringent” in preventing people with a criminal history from purchasing citizenship and is considering raising the investment fee beyond the current $250,000, Prime Minister Timothy Harris said in a pair of interviews last month. Some previously purchased passports may also be revoked, he added.
“We must bring the best of the best to St. Kitts & Nevis, so that our product can be more discerning, and certainly changes in the fee structure is one option that will bring that,” Harris said. “We will exclude some and bring the more discerning of prospective economic citizens to our shore.”
While the government’s citizenship-by-investment program, in place since 1984, helped St. Kitts & Nevis weather the global financial crisis, it has earned the country criticism as well. Canada in November revoked St. Kitts & Nevis citizens’ visa-free travel. The U.S., which offers its own residency-for-investment program starting at $1 million, issued a financial advisory against holders of citizenship-by-investment passports, saying Iranian nationals used the St. Kitts program to evade sanctions on their country.
The passport deal “is attractive to illicit actors because the program, as administered, maintains lax controls as to who may be granted citizenship,” Treasury said.
The program injected more than $74 million into the $766 million St. Kitts & Nevis economy in 2013, according to a budget presentation last year by then-Prime Minister Denzil Douglas. The IMF forecast revenue from the program at about $37 million per year from 2015-2017.