14 Dec Dominica spearheads the global citizenship by investment industry
Paul Singh, Director, CS Global Partners, provides insight into Dominica’s renowned citizenship by investment programme
When was the original seed planted and what combination of ideas and market conditions led to the company’s establishment in 2012? What are some of the advantages of being based in London?
The company was established by Micha-Rose Emmett, who had a background as a lawyer and who had worked in citizenship by investment when it was still a budding industry. The ethos behind the company was to present to the world the win-win solution that citizenship by investment can offer, whether for investors or for countries. CS Global Partners spearheaded a process that would see the St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Unit improve its processing efforts and strategy and become the industry’s ‘Platinum Standard.’ CS Global Partners was also instrumental in re-launching Dominica into the world as the leading citizenship by investment jurisdiction it is today.
London is easy to reach from all across the globe, meaning that prospective investors can effortlessly visit our offices and find out more about the programmes we work with. At the same time, it gives our team the ability to travel at ease and with speed to most worldwide locations, whether to provide programme-specific advice or to partake in an event.
The Caribbean and Southern Europe might have established themselves as the better-known jurisdictions for citizenship by investment, but where are the individual investors coming from? What are the biggest source markets for investment migration?
Citizenship by investment is very much a global product, attracting people from all around the world. Although, out of need, we see that particular markets such as Russia, China, and the Middle East drive a greater demand, it would be a mistake to think these are the only countries where there is a growing interest in citizenship by investment. Nigeria and South Africa are seeing heightened interest, and countries like the United States are generating interest, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
Concerning destinations for citizenship, the Caribbean remains a dominant market, with Dominica and St Kitts and Nevis rising to prominence thanks to their legacy and dependability, as well as their rapid processing times. The newest citizenship by investment programmes of note are those of Turkey, where uptake has been significant among Middle Eastern applicants, and Montenegro, which, however, has yet to receive significant interest. It is important to note that, at this point, both Malta and Cyprus have suspended their programmes, with Malta looking to fully launch a hybrid residence and citizenship offering in the future.
How is transparency addressed specifically at CS Global Partners, and how do you ensure best practices are consistently being employed in due diligence and standard-setting?
Due diligence is central to the survival of the industry, as it is essential that countries feel confident in the people they are allowing to become their citizens. In addition, applicants themselves need to feel confident in the reputability of their country of choosing. For this reason, there is a constant search to improve due diligence methods, to ensure that no stone is left unturned when it comes to the applicant’s background. At present, jurisdictions, such as Dominica, engage in a multi-tiered due diligence process that involves agents, internal Unit staff, external due diligence firms, as well as regional and international bodies. To enhance the above, the Caribbean also places bars on applicants who originate from high-risk nations. This ensures that people on whom due diligence cannot be accurately performed are excluded from the programme. The Caribbean bars any person from applying if that person applied for, and was rejected for, a visa to a country with which the Caribbean citizenship by investment jurisdiction has a visa-free travel treaty. This ensures that no person can use citizenship by investment to circumvent bars to entry to a third nation. Finally, the Caribbean has at its disposal deprivation of citizenship measures, which it can use as a last resort in the unlikely case that an illicit actor succeeds in passing the due diligence scrutiny. Within CS Global Partners, we perform our own due diligence checks on all persons who seek to become our clients. These involve the use of World Check, as well as in-house due diligence based on documents received by the individual and online checks, across the application process.
You also work with some European countries, markets which may have been put in the spotlight this year following the scandal in Cyprus. What will be the biggest changes to European Golden Visas as a result of this year’s happenings?
We have, in the past, sought to assist European nations in improving and honing their citizenship by investment and residence by investment programmes. European nations should ensure that their due diligence is always in line with best practices and that there is no room for illicit actors to abuse their programmes. At CS Global Partners, we hope this will serve as a call for all nations to improve their due diligence and ensure tight measures and controls are in place for all applicants. Dominica’s multi-tiered due diligence system would be a good system to imitate in any jurisdiction wishing to deliver a respected investor immigration programme.
In what obvious and less apparent ways has COVID-19 affected global investment migration, both in general, but also specifically concerning Dominica?
Firstly, COVID-19 has reminded us of how difficult it is to protect the ones we love, whether from a health or an economic perspective. Health-wise, it has reminded us of how important it is to live in a country with a strong healthcare system that is not easily overwhelmed. Economically, it has reminded us of how easy it is to lose a job or see a business fail. Secondly, COVID-19 has shown that the freedoms we are used to, such as the freedom to travel and see our family, can be lost at the blink of an eye. Finally, COVID-19 has underlined the importance of being able to live in a place in which we love to be. People are investing in citizenship by investment not so much to travel for business or to repatriate their assets, but rather to find a haven that is healthy, welcoming towards small and large families alike, and beautiful.
Dominica has been ranked the top jurisdiction for four years in a row by The FT’s CBI Index. Why is Dominica consistently ranked at the top, and what are the main advantages of choosing this jurisdiction over some other island nations in the region?
The CBI Index is a very useful tool as it rates each programme by nine elements that an investor may deem necessary to his or her choice of destination for second citizenship. This year, Dominica received the highest possible score in six out of nine pillars: Minimum Investment Outlay, Mandatory Travel or Residence, Ease of Processing, Due Diligence, Family, and Certainty of Product. It also received a very high score in Citizenship Timeline, and commendable scores in Freedom of Movement and Standard of Living.
Minimum Investment Outlay refers to the minimum amount a person must invest in order to obtain citizenship. In Dominica, this equates to US$100,000. Mandatory Travel or Residence refers to the travel or residence requirement associated with a programme. In Dominica, there is no requirement to travel to the island, or reside there, to become a citizen. Ease of Processing refers to the processing of applications. In Dominica, there is no requirement to attend an interview, pass a language or culture test, or demonstrate prior business ability. The Unit is also highly effective, frequently updating its website and providing direct guidance to agents. Family refers to the family members that can be included in an application. In Dominica, this encompasses spouses, children up to the age of 30, parents, grandparents, the spouses of qualifying parents and grandparents, and even siblings up to the age of 25. Finally, Certainty of Product refers to the stability and reliability of a programme. In Dominica, citizenship by investment has been in existence for more than two decades, and the programme is widely lauded for its good reputation, providing added confidence for investors.
One of the biggest trends emerging in the post-COVID-19 world is remote working. Governments worldwide are launching new programs to attract digital nomads and staycationers with one or two-year visas aimed to this profile of the traveller. What are your views on this trend, and how is your company leveraging the opportunities that have come about from the current surge in this type of migration?
Digital nomads and ‘staycationers’ are bi-products of the COVID-19 crisis and the limitations that have been placed on our ability to go to an office and work with a team. It is a little too soon to tell whether people will quickly return to the offices, having missed social interaction, or whether they will want to continue to work from home, with the advantages of not having to commute and being able to attend to home, as well as work, matters. In the short term, as people continue to be unable to go to their workplace, the notion of being able to spend time in a paradise island such as Dominica will appeal to many. Citizenship by investment is a quick solution in this respect, as approval for citizenship by investment is expected in as little as three months.
What would be your final message towards our readers of Newsweek?
There are many citizenship by investment programmes in the world, but you would be hard pressed to find one that is as advantageous as the Dominica Citizenship by Investment Programme. It is essential to be well informed, choose an agent who will be able to provide you with accurate and timely guidance, and, ultimately, bask in the certainty of greater freedom, safety, and happiness.