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September 8, 2020

Following the release of the latest CBI Index, for 2020, the Caribbean countries continue to outrank the rest of the world with their long-running, competitively priced and highly regulated Citizenship by Investment Programmes, with Dominica coming top, closely followed by Saint Kitts and Grenada.

The latest CBI Index 2020 has landed, revealing the most up-to-date rankings for Citizenship by Investment programmes worldwide. This annual CBI Index, which is issued by Professional Wealth Management magazine (a publication from the Financial Times), evaluates all active citizenship by investment programmes and ranks them against nine pillars deemed most important to individuals seeking second citizenship via the investment route.

The latest report, which marks its fourth year of publication, has been updated to reflect the most recent industry trends, including the addition of Montenegro’s Citizenship by Investment Programme, taking the number of country programmes evaluated to 14, and the further addition of two new assessment pillars, Family and Certainty of Product.

And according to the latest report, the Caribbean countries – of which there are five offering CBI Programmes – continue to outrank the rest of the world, with the CBI Programme of Dominica coming top for the second year running (with a total score of 90%), closely followed by Saint Kitts & Nevis (89%) and Grenada (88%). All three countries provide not just fast and affordable routes to citizenship, but programmes that are reliable, family-friendly and adhere to strict due diligence.

Longevity seems to matter
It comes as no surprise that the two top-ranking programmes – Saint Kitts & Nevis and Dominica – are also the longest-running, most established CIPs, at 36 and 27 years old, respectively, and are both renowned in the industry for being two of the most efficient, transparent and reliable options for economic citizenship. However, Grenada, a much younger programme provider, at just 7 years old, has really raised its game in recent years.

And this is where the 2020 CBI Index’s new Certainty of Product pillar really comes in, assessing as it does a programme’s certainty across five factors, including longevity, popularity and renown, stability, reputation and adaptability; all factors that are becoming increasingly important in an industry and age where the reputations of some CBI programmes are being increasingly brought into question.

Dominica and Saint Kitts both achieved perfect scores under the new Certainty of Product Pillar, with their programmes not only having stood the test of time, but having garnered incredible reputations: while Dominica has suffered no serious CBI-related scandal in its 17 years of operation, Saint Kitts has earned its title as the ‘platinum standard’ of the CBI industry.

citizenship by investment Caribbean
Aerial view of tropical island beach, Dominican Republic

Caribbean continues to outrank in CBI offerings
According to the report, Dominica, along with Saint Lucia, continues to provide the most affordable CBI Programme option, at US100,000 for a single applicant (while Antigua also offers this, its additional government fees make it a pricier option). Dominica, Grenada and Saint Lucia come top with their family inclusiveness, all allowing siblings to join an application, while Dominica, Grenada and Saint Kitts generously include parents and grandparents.

Saint Kitts & Nevis tops the ranks with the fastest CIP application processing time, more recently upped by the offer of its 60-day fixed Accelerated Application Process (AAP), although Dominica, Grenada and Saint Lucia are not far behind in the timing stakes with an average turnaround time of three months.

From a freedom of movement point of view, while the European countries clearly deliver the most in this, the Caribbean islands do really well with Saint Kitts and Saint Lucia coming top with visa-free access to 15 of the 20 business hubs assessed. However, Dominica saw the greatest increase in visa-free and visa-on-arrival offerings since 2019 compared to the other countries evaluated.

From an ease of processing point of view, the Caribbean programmes dominate for the fourth consecutive year, renowned as they are for their straightforward, streamlined processing models with no mandatory interviews or language/culture tests. And all the Caribbean countries achieve perfect scores for imposing no travel or residence requirements on applicants whether before, during, or after the granting of citizenship.

And despite such straightforward models, Dominica, Grenada and Saint Kitts topped the ranks in terms of due diligence too. Not only are they regarded as programmes that thoroughly investigate applicants’ sources of funds, but also verify applicants’ identities via the more due diligent processes of biometrics and fingerprinting.

Grenada once again achieved the highest score of any country for education, while Saint Kitts and Dominica both improved their scores for GDP growth and improvement of their economies – both healthcare and the economy proving big pulls for investors.

In addition to the Caribbean countries of Saint Kitts & Nevis, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia and Antigua & Barbuda, the other countries offering citizenship by investment programmes that were evaluated in the latest CBI Index include Vanuatu, Cambodia, Jordan, Turkey, Cyprus, Bulgaria, Austria, Malta and Montenegro.

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