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Passports Issued Under St. Kitts Economic Citizenship Program Recalled

22 Dec
The Benefits Of A Second Passport can be many

Got A St. Kitts Passport? Send It Back

If you invested in a St. Kitts’ passport, you need to send it back. Quick.

St. Kitts’ economic citizenship program is under fire. Canada has removed the country from its visa-free travel list. St. Kittitians who want to travel to Canada now have to apply for a tourist visa requiring a security check.

Canada’s change in policy was implemented as a result of concern that unwelcome characters could be entering Canada using a passport issued under St. Kitts’ economic citizenship program. In addition, St. Kitts has also suffered through scandals over diplomatic passports the country has issued.

In an effort to reverse or at least reduce the scrutiny the country has come under for its passport program, St. Kitts is recalling all economic passports issued from January 2012 through July 2014. Passports issued during that period didn’t include place-of-birth information or any details of name changes. Omitting the place of birth helped to hide the origin of the passport-holder, a security concern for Canada and the United States.

Investing in an economic citizenship program is a way for anyone with enough money to enjoy the benefits of a second passport if he doesn’t qualify for one through genealogy or doesn’t want to put in the time to qualify through residency. In the case of the St. Kitts program, the result has been a passport that has allowed for visa-free travel to more than 120 countries. Canada’s change of policy makes that list one country shorter, and concern is that other countries might follow suit.

The United States, for example, is also scrutinizing passports from countries with economic citizenship programs under the belief that people are using those passports to evade financial and immigration sanctions. While that may be a legitimate concern, the United States has an underlying dislike for economic citizenship. They see it as a way for wealthy Americans to get a quickie divorce from the United States. It’s possible to obtain economic citizenship and the passport that goes along with it within six months. That new passport in hand, an American can renounce U.S. citizenship and walk away from Uncle Sam.

Back To St. Kitts' Now Less Useful Passport...

The country is recalling all passports issued from January 2012 through July 2014 so it can make and issue new passports for all those economic citizens (that will include information to do with place of birth and name changes). Still, it is very possible that other countries could take Canada’s lead and also begin to require St. Kitts passport holders to apply for visas to cross their borders. Should that occur, St. Kitts could see a reduction in revenue from its economic citizenship program, which, according to some sources, accounts for as much as 25% of the country’s GDP.

And the president of St. Kitts has recently inaugurated embassies in Nigeria and Dubai, one presumes with the intention of promoting and facilitating increased sales of his economic citizenship program.

Economic citizenship in St. Kitts costs either US$250,000, if you make a donation to the Sugar Industry Diversification Foundation, or US$400,000, if you choose to make an investment in property. This country’s economic citizens aren’t going to be happy about any lost visa-free travel options. St. Kitts might better spend its time and resources cleaning up its passport application process rather than opening retail shops (embassies) in locations that produce the kinds of new citizens Canada and the United States are concerned about.

St. Kitts’ isn’t the only economic citizenship program out there. Antigua and Barbuda has a program modeled after the one in St. Kitts. It hasn’t been around long enough to produce the number of sketchy citizens who seem to be running around with St. Kitts passports. Grenada relaunched a similar program last year, and Dominica offers a program that is cheaper than the other three. Its citizens, though, have fewer visa-free travel options, making this passport less useful than the competition…for the time being.

Lief Simon

Mailbag

“Lief, my daughter and I are Americans living in the Dominican Republic for the past 16 months. I am a retired widow, and my daughter has accepted a position with one of the timeshare companies here. Her company requires that she open an account where the company does its business in order for them to do direct deposit. The problem for her now seems to be the FATCA regulations. The bank is not wanting to open the account for her because she is American. It is the only way she can or will be paid by her employer.

“The bank’s name is Bancreservas. Do you have any suggestions for resolving this situation?”

C.W.

I checked the IRS site to see if Banreservas has a GIIN number, meaning it is registered as a FATCA-compliant bank. It is not. Perhaps the bank has decided not to file for a GIIN number but to comply with FATCA by not taking American clients.

If that is the case, your only recourse would be to try to explain this to your daughter’s new employer. Good luck.