The Caribbean countries have proven to be the most popular destinations to migrate to for UAE and GCC residents during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Immigration industry experts say low costs have made the Caribbean countries attractive under citizenship by investment programmes.

“For UAE and GCC residents seeking greater visa-free travel options, the most popular citizenship by investment programmes are the Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, Grenada with an E2 Investor Visa, and Vanuatu. Applicants can apply remotely and recent updates during Covid-19 have made these countries more attractive and affordable for families,” said David Regueiro, group COO of RIF Trust and Latitude.

Alternatively, UAE and GCC residents looking to relocate to Europe or expand their business to a country with strong healthcare systems and prime real estate investment opportunities are choosing Malta citizenship, as it offers a path to European citizenship for high net worth individuals and their families, he said.

Most popular programmes

Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of Citizenship by Invest, said St Kitts & Nevis’ citizenship by investment programme is the most sought-after in this region.

“Applicants already have references from friends or family members who hold the St Kitts & Nevis citizenship, and this gives them comfort to choose this programme,” she said, adding that Grenada is one of the most sought-after programmes and the only passport which offers visas to China for free.

Cotdemiey said Vanuatu, which is a fairly new fast-track citizenship programme, is increasing in popularity as well.

She added that amongst European countries with residency programmes, Portugal has been the most popular one. “The reason is simple. Portugal offers the most cost-effective programme to eventually acquire citizenship of the European Union without ever residing in Portugal. Investors from UAE acquire Portuguese residence with a long-term view. After five years of holding the residency, they could apply for citizenship.”

David Regueiro said Malta Exceptional Investor Naturalisation offers the highest visa-free access to new immigrants of about 186 countries and also allows them to live and work anywhere in the European Union as a European citizen.

Following European citizenship, the five Caribbean citizenship by investment programmes offer the best visa-free access. St Kitts and Nevis offers the highest numbers of countries with 157, followed by Antigua and Barbuda with 151 countries, St Lucia with 146 countries, Grenada with 144 countries and, finally, Dominica with 143 countries.

Top nationalities opting for migration

Veronica Cotdemiey said the top nationalities that are looking for a second citizenship from this region are Lebanese, Syrians, Libyans, Yemenis, Indians, Iraqis, and Egyptians.

Regueiro said many expats living in the UAE and GCC with “weaker passports” are seeking to obtain a second citizenship by investment which provide greater visa-free travel flexibility when travelling for leisure or looking to expand their business outside the GCC.

“A range of nationalities are seeking a second passport including investors holding a passport from Syria, Lebanese, Yemen, Iraq, Egypt, Iran, Russia, and South Africa, to name a few.”

Most economical citizenship by investment programmes:

St. Kitts and Nevis: Real estate investment of $200,000 or a government donation of $150,000

Grenada: Investment of $220,000 into prime real estate or government donation of $150,000

St Lucia: Real estate investment starts from $300,000 or a government donation of $100,000

Vanuatu: Government donation of $130,000

(Source: RIF Trust and Latitude)

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