High Net-Worth Indians are Increasingly Seeking out Alternative Routes to Second Citizenship

·2-min read

LONDON, March 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Non-resident Indians may potentially face citizenship-based taxation along with the removal of certain privileges offered to those who hold Overseas Citizenship of India (OCI) status. This has left many high net-worth individuals to seek out new means of protecting their wealth and future. OCI status is given to people of Indian origin and operates similarly to a dual citizenship, however, new guidelines have heavily curtailed rights offered to OCI holders. Traditional employment-based routes to emigration, like the United States H-1B Visa, has long been a top choice for wealthy Indians. However, with the visa currently frozen until at least March 31st and quotas contributing to long waiting times, many have begun looking to greener pastures.

Over the last year, Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programmes have witnessed a global boom. Wealthy investors from emerging markets with driving factors ranging from COVID-19, wealth preservation and the increasing need for physical and financial security have contributed to its popularity. Indian investors, particularly, have looked to the Caribbean for alternative routes to second citizenship, the CBI Programme's birthplace. Most notably, St Kitts and Nevis' Citizenship by Investment Programme – the market's oldest – continues to welcome a growing population of Indian entrepreneurs and businesspeople.

During a recent webinar with Times of India, Les Khan, CEO of St Kitts and Nevis CBI Unit, highlighted how Indian investors were contributing to the nation's economy: 'In all aspects of our economic areas, we have Indians who have found a welcoming place and are contributing in a constructive way to nation-building. We are open, and we will be most comfortable in having them come and be part of our economic landscape.' Introduced in 1984, St Kitts and Nevis' CBI Programme has been attracting high net-worth individuals and their families to become citizens of the dual-islands once investing in a government fund. The one-time qualifying investment is $150,000 for a single applicant. However, under a limited time offer, a family of four can acquire citizenship for the same price rather than the usual $195,000.

'Citizenship by investment is such a powerful tool,' says Micha Emmett, CEO of CS Global Partners, a leading global government advisory and marketing firm. '[It gives] someone the label of being a citizen of the world because an alternative citizenship gives access to new frontiers.' Investors gain access to a wealth of advantages, including increased travel freedom to nearly 160 countries and territories, the right to live and work in the nation, tax benefits, and the ability to pass citizenship down for generations to come. Additionally, those who choose to reside in St Kitts and Nevis do so with the United States only a short distance away with access to some of the world's greatest education institutions and home to the globe's largest economy.

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