The most popular destination for wealthy South Africans looking for a second passport – which comes with international access to prized regions including the UK, Schengen, and China – is Grenada in the Caribbean.
Nadia Read Thaele of LIO Global, a specialist firm in residence and citizenship-by-investment planning for private clients, said this Caribbean country ‘comfortably’ tops the list of destinations for South Africans who are serious about obtaining a second passport.
Arton Capital, which also specialises in investor programmes for residency and citizenship, recently told BusinessTech that it has experienced a ‘substantial increase’ in the number of South Africans looking for a plan B.
“I would say about 200% increase in enquiries,” said Jacques Scherman of Arton Capital, which largely works with affluent people looking to attain second citizenships.
“Portugal, Dubai, Mauritius, Bulgaria, USA and Grenada are all programmes that South Africans keep asking me about,” Scherman said.
According to LIO Global, the stand-out aspect of the Grenada Citizenship-by-Investment Program, is that it is the only Caribbean program 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.
A Grenada Passport also provides visa-free access to the Schengen zone, Singapore, Hong Kong and Brazil, other key trade destinations.
It also 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-US$200,000 into a business that can demonstrably employ at least 3-4 persons. The visa is renewable every five years.
Read Thaele noted that the Grenadian passport also 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 program leads to direct citizenship in a relatively fast 3-4 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, Read Thaele said.
The Grenada Citizenship-by-Investment Program was launched in August 2013 and is governed by the Grenada Citizenship by Investment Act, 2013 (Act No. 15 of 2013).
Grenada, located in the south-eastern Caribbean just north of Trinidad and Venezuela, also offers a tax friendly jurisdiction with no personal income tax, gift and inheritance tax or capital gains tax.
The investment required for the programme starts at $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 $200,000. There are also additional government and application fees payable,” Read Thaele said.