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Full suspension of Russians by Caribbean States from March 31, Vanuatu CBI programme are surging

On 25 February 2023 a US-Caribbean Roundtable on Citizenship by Investment was held in St. Kitts, the highly productive and mutually beneficial engagement involved delegations of the five Eastern Caribbean states with Citizenship by Investment(CBI) Programmes led by their Prime Ministers and a delegation of the Government of the United States led by the Deputy Assistante Secretary of the US Department of the Treasury. Both parties engaged in a frank discussion on the threats and chanllenges faced by these programmes.

 

During this Roundtable meeting, the five Eastern Caribbean states agrees collectively committed to six CBI principles proposed by the US as the following:

 

1. Collective agreement on treatment of denials: Not to process applications from persons whose applications have been denied in another CBI jurisdiction, by proactively sharing information on denials.

 

2. Interviews: Conduct interviews with applicants, whether online or in-person.

 

3. Additional checks: Each jurisdiction will run checks on each application with the Financial Intelligence Unit of its respective country.

 

4. Audits: Audit the Programme annually or every two years in accordance with internationally accepted standards.

 

5. Retrieval of passports: Request law enforcement assistance to retrieve revoked/recalled passports.

 

6. Treatment of Russians and Belarusians: Suspend processing applications from Russians and Belarusians. Four jurisdictions have already suspended applications and Grenada which processes applications from Russians and Belarusians with enhanced due diligence, will suspend processing new applications from Russia and Belarus from March 31, 2023.

 

In addition, when the war between Russia and Ukraine broke out, the EU took various sanctions against Russia, including making it more difficult for Russians to apply for visas to EU countries, banning Russians from opening accounts in EU-related countries, freezing Russian assets, etc. This has forced a large number of Russians to apply for a second nationality for their travel and asset allocation.

 
 
 
  Screen captures from European Commission.
 

It is easy to explain why the Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment programme is so popular with applicants from Russians at this stage. According to inside information from Globevisa’s Vanuatu lawyer, there were as many as 54 applicants from Russians in Vanuatu’s last CBI process meeting. Combined with the situation of Russian applicants in recent months, their success rate of approval is 100%, and there was not a single case of rejection.

 

It is believed that in combination with the current restrictions on Russian applicants under the Caribbean countries’ CBI programmes, the Vanuatu CBI programme may become the only option for Russian applicants.

 

The Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment programme has no restriction on applicants’ nationality. Globevisa has launched this program right after Vanuatu Citizenship by Investment programme was approved and opened for applicants by Vanuatu Government in 2015. Over the past 8 years, applicants from nearly 30 countries around the world have signed with Globevisa, including but not limited to applicants from the United States, Canada, Japan, Thailand, India, China (Mainland, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan), etc. Especially for the Russian applicants who are restricted this time, Globevisa also has successful cases of operation.

 
 
Globevisa has had many successful cases of nationalities applying for the Vanuatu CBI programme in the past because of our rich experience. Globevisa believes that Vanuatu government will not be an exception facing the forced tightening of CBI policies in all countries. Since 2019, the European Union has been negotiating with the Vanuatu government to improve the Vanuatu CBI programme. The EU has repeatedly expressed its dissatisfaction with the generous application threshold for Vanuatu’s CBI programme.
 
 
 

On December 2, 2022, Vanuatu’s new Prime Minister led a national delegation to the EU to negotiate a Vanuatu passport visa free policy for EU. During the meeting, Vanuatu presented to the EU the changes made to the CBI Program, including but not limited to:

 

1. The engagement of FACT UK, a UK agency, as an independent third party backstop for the Vanuatu CBI Programme to do due diligence on the applicant’s background (January 14, 2022).

 

2. Cancellation of passport name change (June 2022).

 

3. Formal upgrade of the Vanuatu passport to an e-passport (Late 2022).

 

The EU is pleased, but not satisfied, with the adjustments made by the Vanuatu government to the CBI programme. On January 31, 2023, the EU announced that the decision to completely ban all Vanuatu passports from visa-free entry into the EU would be extended for 18 months, with the 18-month extension period ending on August 3, 2024.

 

During the next 18-month extention period, the Vanuatu government will further strengthen the reform of the CBI programme, and will probably learn from the adjustment of the CBI programme in the Caribbean countries and follow the world situation to make changes. It is not excluded that the Vanuatu CBI programme will soon be suspended for Russian and Belarusian applicants.

 

At present, the processing period for Vanuatu CBI programme is only 2 to 3 months, and in Globevisa the total cost of Vanuatu CBI programme is less than 130,000 USD. Globevisa has accumulated successful experience in processing applicants of various nationalities, especially Russian applicants. Let’s wait and see if Russians will grasp the last ticket to apply Vanuatu CBI programme.

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