In light of visa restrictions placed on St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua tightens Citizenship Programme

That country’s Government has moved to ban the citizens of six countries from being eligible for economic citizenship.

The Antigua and Barbuda government explained on Wednesday that they are taking the measures to protect and safeguard the integrity of their Citizenship by Investment Program, or CIP, introduced in 2013.

A Government statement over in St. John’s said “The Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda has taken this position to safeguard the integrity of the CIP program, and to ensure that only those persons whose past behavior will not threaten the very well-being of the citizenship program, can be accepted.”

However, the Antiguans have made special provisions, and have excluded from this new rule, any citizen from the six countries listed, who are currently lawfully residing in Western Europe, the USA, or Canada.

It was the inclusion of citizens from Iran in particular, that got the St. Kitts and Nevis programme into trouble with the Government of Canada, resulting in that country cancelling the “visa free” status that was once accorded to Kittitians and Nevisians. Antigua and Barbuda still enjoys that privilege.

The Canadians also indicated through a release on their website that some of the people, who have been granted citizenship under the programme administered by St. Kitts and Nevis, were terrorists and others were known to be connected to terrorist organizations.

The US too had expressed their own concerns to the Government of Dr. Denzil Douglas in Basseterre and went so far to issue an advisory, warning American businessman to be careful, when doing business with persons holding St. Kitts and Nevis passports. The US had also claimed that it had expressed concerns to the leadership in Basseterre but promises to cap various loopholes were not kept.

With the spotlight being placed on the programme in St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda has decided to be proactive and has now banned nationals of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, Somalia and Yemen from being able to apply for the Citizenship By Investment Programme.

The fallout with Canada has led to a massive re-call of thousands of passports held by Kittitians and Nevisians. The Passport Office in Basseterre has been working overtime to meet a 31st January, 2015 deadline to issue new passports.

While St. Kitts and Nevis was the first country in the Caribbean to introduce the programme in 1984, others have taken notice of the hundreds of millions that are being generated and have decided to roll out their own initiative. In Antigua and Barbuda, while the monies are being placed in the National Development Fund, or NDF, under the control of the Government, in St. Kitts and it is a private foundation, not owned by government, that has control of the more attractive option known as the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation, SIDF.


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