LIO Global speaks with Property24.com about why wealthy South Africans are investing in Grenada for citizenship.
Move over Mauritius and Portugal. The hottest destination for wealthy South Africans looking for a second passport – one with excellent international access to prized regions such as the UK, Schengen, China and more – is Grenada in the Caribbean.
Nadia Read Thaele of LIO Global, a specialist firm in residence and citizenship-by-investment planning for private clients, says this Caribbean country has so many plus factors that it now comfortably tops the list of destinations for South Africans who are serious about obtaining a second passport.
The most immediate standout aspect of the Grenada Citizenship-by-Investment Programme is that it is the only Caribbean programme that offers visa-free access to China. Grenada is one of only three countries in the world with 30 days visa-free access to China. Many business clients find it very helpful not to have to scurry for visas every time they need to travel to the east.
A Grenada passport also provides visa-free access to the Schengen zone, Singapore, Hong Kong and Brazil, which are other key trade destinations.
On top of that, it offers access to the USA via an E-2 Investor Visa treaty, which affords the right to enter, live, work and study in the USA for the applicant and family upon meeting the required investment provisions, both financially and procedurally. The E-2 visa is typically issued for two- or five-year periods. It requires investment capital and reserves of at least US$100 000 to US$200 000 into a business that can demonstrably employ at least three to four persons. The visa is renewable every five years.
Read Thaele says a Grenadian passport allows for visa-free access to 136 countries, and visa on arrival to a great many more, around the world.
A further benefit is that there is no requirement to relocate or live in Grenada, and there are no language restrictions either. The programme leads to direct citizenship in a relatively fast 3- to 4-month period. The citizenship extends to your spouse and dependent children under 25, and dual citizenship is permitted.
The citizenship is also fully generational and can be passed on. It also gives the holder the right to live, work and vote as any other citizen, says Read Thaele.
The Grenada Citizenship-by-Investment Programme was launched in August 2013 and is governed by the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Act, 2013 (Act No. 15 of 2013).
Read Thaele says Grenada is called the Spice Island with the smell of nutmeg hanging in the air. But it could also be called the island of natural beauty and variety with black and white beaches and azure blue water, rainforests, a 13 acre crater lake, cascading cliffs and hot springs.
Located in the southeastern Caribbean just north of Trinidad and Venezuela, the country itself comprises the main island Grenada, occupying 344 square kilometres with St George’s as its capital, and is surrounded by a number of smaller islands. It is a popular tourist destination, and this along with its nutmeg and mace crops (of which it is one of the world’s largest exporters), is the economic mainstay.
Read Thaele says that aside from an idyllic island lifestyle, it offers a tax-friendly jurisdiction with no personal income tax, gift and inheritance tax or Capital Gains Tax.
The investment programme requires a significant economic contribution to the country or investment into a government-approved real estate project. In exchange, and subject to a stringent vetting and due diligence process, including thorough background checks, successful applicants and their families are granted citizenship.
The investment required starts at US$350 000 into a government-approved real estate project, and property must be held for a minimum of three years. Alternatively, you could make a non-refundable contribution to the National Transformation Fund (NTF) of US$200 000. There are also additional government and application fees payable.
On the property investment side, one of the properties is a 5-Star hotel which will be run by the internationally-renowned resort operator, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. Kimpton is part of the Intercontinental Hotels Group, and one of the world’s leading boutique hotel operators. This hotel will open in 2019, but investors can already obtain citizenship through investing in this project.
Another option is to invest into a resort and beach club which received the TripAdvisor’s esteemed 2017 Travelers’ Choice Award. The resort was included in the Top 25 Small Hotels in the Caribbean and Top 25 Hotels for Service in the Caribbean. In this development, the investor owns a share in the resort. The $350 000 includes most government fees, as well as the due diligence fees for the main applicant and spouse.
Read Thaele says she recommends that you work with a credible operator to ensure a smooth process and no hidden costs and provisions.
She says one of the challenges for South Africans right now is that most programmes are essentially residency programs with some offering a route to citizenship (such as the Portugal Golden Visa), but these are as yet untested.
In most instances, Read Thaele says that you are merely investing in residency linked to your property ownership. Once you sell your property, your residency terminates and the process would need to start all over again.
“If you are serious about your wealth and gaining access to key international markets, then the Grenada Program is a very exciting option, she says.
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