An annual study – titled the CBI Index – was launched in August by the Financial Times’ Professional Wealth Management magazine. The aim of the special report is to rank countries that have implemented and are actively running citizenship by investment (CBI) programmes against seven key ‘pillars’ deemed most important for applicants and families deciding on which CBI programme to choose to obtain second citizenship. The pillars are:
- freedom of movement;
- standard of living;
- citizenship timeline;
- minimum investment outlay;
- mandatory travel requirements;
- ease of processing;
- due diligence.
The Commonwealth of Dominica operates one of the oldest CBI programmes in the world, first introduced in 1993 and revamped two decades later. With both experience and longevity on its side, Dominica refined its processes over time and developed its Citizenship by Investment Programme to the prestigious status it confidently holds today.
These efforts have propelled the island on an international stage as the world’s best offering for second citizenship via CBI, according to the FT Specialist publication, for three consecutive years. The Dominican Programme scored full marks in five of the seven pillars assessed: due diligence, absence of any travel or residency requirements, citizenship timeline, ease of processing, and affordability.
Proactive Due Diligence Works
One of the foundations of a respectable CBI programme is the vetting standards that all applicants are subjected to before being considered. Because Dominica does not require applicants to travel or reside (though it is highly recommended for its untainted beauty and thriving ecotourism), to ensure an applicant’s integrity and good intentions towards the country, Dominica goes above and beyond in terms of due diligence procedures which has so far rendered it a spotless reputation.
Over time, Dominica has proven its dedication to offering a well-developed programme with highly specialised due diligence procedures. Furthermore, the island uses both local and international agencies to carry out these procedures.
The Prime Minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, recently proposed that the Caribbean CBI industry undergoes changes leading to the standardisation of CBI processes and documentation. This includes jointly training CBI staff in anti-money laundering, uniform legislation and standardised applications.
Seamless CBI Processes in Dominica
With a history spanning over two decades, Dominica has had ample time to figure out what works and what does not. Its CBI Programme boasts one of the most reliable and efficient procedures in the world. With the absence of any business experience or language requirements, applicants who are successful in passing all due diligence checks can expect to be fully processed within 60 to 90 days. Its straightforward and streamlined application process continues to be an inspiration for the economic citizenship industry and the larger investor immigration context.
Affordable Second Citizenship
One of the key features of Dominica’s CBI Programme is its affordability. For a single applicant, an investment of USD 100,000 is required towards the Economic Diversification Fund (EDF), making it one of the most affordable options on the market. The Government utilises the generated funds for socio-economic projects on the island, including construction on a geothermal plant, healthcare, education and housing. The other route is via an minimum USD 200,000 in a pre-approved real estate, which includes an exquisite list of luxury hotels and resorts propping up Dominica’s flourishing ecotourism sector.
Model Transparency of CBI Funds
Dominica performs well in practice, and besides offering seamlessness and efficiency, it also ensures transparency in all its operations. The 2019 CBI Index notes that Dominica is an “industry leader in its transparent and effective use” of CBI receipts. The Caribbean island inspired several European countries to focus more on the effect an investor immigration programme has on residents, with Cyprus and Malta replicating CBI-funded public housing models, similar to Dominica’s ambitious ‘Housing Revolution’, the FT experts highlighted. The latter saw the government make huge investments into building 5,000 modern hurricane-proof homes for its approx. 23,000-household population.
A recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) gives a detailed account on how CBI funds have been used on the island and the impact it has had, particularly on the recovery efforts after Hurricane Maria. The report looked at the period between 2014-2019 and concluded, amongst others, that the Citizenship by Investment Programme has had a significant effect on Dominica’s economy in the long-term and guaranteed the near miraculous recovery post-Maria at a pace that would not have been possible without CBI.
Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment Programme is indicative of the social and economic benefits that stem from these initiatives and how it can truly benefit small nations. Combined with Dominica’s transparency is the island’s commitment to offering foreign investors a straightforward programme and a life-long valuable investment. It is this attention to the needs of the market and, equally, its native citizens that makes Dominica a world leader within the citizenship by investment industry.
The full CBI Index report in English is available here for free download. Abridged translations of the special report are also available in Russian, Chinese, Vietnamese and Arabic on the official CBI Index website.