The CBI market is constantly evolving, with significant changes to programmes on a regular basis since the pandemic. Geopolitics have played a role in the current trend of rising prices and the introduction of stricter eligibility requirements.
Prices in the CBI industry are steadily going up every few months as the costs of running programmes increases. This is due to several reasons.
Pressure has come from the EU to increase the levels of due diligence conducted and demands to increase prices amid fears that visa-free access to the bloc was being undervalued. US attention has turned to programme investment projects and risks to investors posed by possible overvaluation of project shares.
Caribbean passport programmes have enjoyed less stringent restrictions for decades since their inception. With 6 to 9 months processing time between applications and the delivery of a passport and almost guaranteed acceptance as long as there was no criminal record, the ease of access to these programmes was a major selling point. There is increasing pressure on Caribbean nations from the UK and EU, who think the due diligence process is currently not sufficient for the visa-free access the programmes offer. They believe rejection rates are too low and due diligence is completed in too short a time for there to be proper vetting of applicants to meet the standards they expect.
Due diligence comes at a cost to the governments running the programmes however, so increased responsibilities will result in higher costs being passed on to clients. Recent changes to due diligence processes and programme expectations are leading to increasing costs for example, St Kitts’ programme entry price has increased from $125,000 to $250,000 (USD) in recent months. Mandatory interviews for applicants are being introduced across programmes, and several programmes now require more documents to verify sources of funds, such as proof of liquid funds to invest in the applicant’s bank account.
Tougher restrictions and the increased emphasis on providing a variety of documents for the due diligence process will make it significantly harder for a lot of people to acquire passports through CBI programmes. Applicants in areas with political instability or conflicts may be unable to obtain documentation from their home country that satisfies tougher requirements. These clients often comprise the group who is most in need of the benefits a second citizenship can provide.
One other stringent restriction that could be introduced is physical residency requirements. Currently, a defining feature of CBI programmes is that at no point do applicants have to visit or stay in the country that they are applying for citizenship in. Even mandatory interviews are conducted online. Pressure from external governments may force the hand of programme providing countries and force residency requirements such as a minimum annual stay. There is also the possibility that applicants from certain countries may no longer be considered for CBI programmes due to political pressures or conflicts, as has been the case with Russian nationals in the last year.
While the direction of the CBI industry indicates more stringent restrictions, significant price hikes, and barriers to some currently eligible applicants, there is still an opportunity to secure a passport safely, through government regulated prices and authentic second passport consultants.
If you obtain your second passport under current programme requirements, you are mitigating possible problems that may arise in the future from a stricter applications process.
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