Small Islands Witness an Increase in Citizenship


As the world begins to reopen and with summer just around the corner, many are turning their attention to upcoming travel plans.


But even as restrictions begin to lift around the world, the question of what international travel will look like in the coming weeks, months, and even years, remains unanswered. No one has a clear understanding of how borders and visa requirements will be impacted post-COIVD-19.


For those with the financial means, citizenship by investment has long been an attractive option for the ability to travel more freely. But in the wake of the global pandemic, citizenship by investment has the potential to open even more doors for savvy investors.


For Moe Alhaj, CEO of Migrate World Ltd., one of the Middle East’s leading citizenship by investment firms, business has been booming.


“We’ve seen a significant increase in applications during the pandemic,” says Alhaj. “A lot of people are trying to get ahead of potential visa restrictions by investing in a more permanent solution for international travel whether for business or pleasure.”


Citizenship & Residency by investment programs in St. Kitts and Nevis, Greece, and Cyprus—to name a few—have all been popular options. In addition to affordable options, these countries have also had low numbers of COVID-19 cases. St. Kitts and Nevis reported just 15 cases in a population of less than 100,000, while Cyprus had 958 cases in a population of over 1.1 million people, and Greece reported just 2,937 cases in a population of over 10 million. All relatively low case counts given each country’s population.


As evidenced by countries like Jamaica who have instituted “travel bubbles”—that is lighter or no restrictions on travellers from certain countries where COVID-19 cases have been relatively low—the type of passport you hold is becoming even more valuable.


“Holding a residency or citizenship from a European country can mean easier access and travel throughout the EU,” says Alhaj. “But citizens of countries with a well-contained response to COVID-19 like St. Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia, for example, are already enjoying more freedom of movement when it comes to international travel. I think we could expect to see this happening more as we continue to move forward.”


In St. Kitts and Nevis, program options for citizenship schemes start from just $150,000 USD for a single applicant contributing to a government fund or $200,000 USD for a real estate investment option. Greece offers a residency program from as little as €250,000 and Cyprus’s Citizenship program from €2 million, and those are just three of many.


“Many of the most longstanding citizenship by investment programs were established as a way to stimulate local economies in times of hardship,” says Alhaj. “Because the global economic impact of COVID-19 has been so substantial, it’s possible that more countries will launch their own schemes in the coming months and years.”


And if ease of travel isn’t enough to start the application process, consider this: what better place to ride out a second wave of the pandemic than your own private tropical paradise.