A silver lining for CBI during the pandemic

Much can be said about the recent hardships faced by many during the ongoing pandemic. As the world came to an obvious standstill with so many restrictions in place, so did day-to-day professions, with the exception of essential businesses. The pandemic has without a doubt caused great misfortune and chaos to our daily lives.

The citizenship by investment (CBI) industry was no exemption to the ensuing chaos. Present and prospective investors understandably grew uncertain and spending confidence dwindled as the pandemic unfolded. In the early months of the pandemic, many governments, dependent on revenues from CBI programmes, along with the Citizenship by Investment Units, intervened by making joint attempts to secure what would be their countries’ lifeline of foreign investment for months to come.

When we come upon grey skies and gloomy days, we find it difficult to see the silver lining that lies therein; nevertheless, the pandemic has not been all bad for the CBI industry, and here are a few silver lining moments that I would like to highlight.

“Though initial change is uncomfortable, the decisions we make today, such as getting a second citizenship, may change our lives and our future for the best.”

IMPROVEMENT IN SUBMISSION PROCEDURES

CBI units that did not have online submission portals quickly implemented this feature to facilitate application submissions without compromising COVID-19 protocols. The use of the portals allowed unit personnel to work from safe spaces as everything submitted for review was done digitally. In so doing, not only were essential staff removed from the immediate threat of exposure to the virus, but the portals benefitted both Licensed Agents such as ourselves as well as the CBI applicants by allowing them to start submitting applications sooner than before. The convenience provided by portals improved efficiency and made it easier to track and monitor applications in some cases.

FASTER PROCESSING TIMES

With the implementation of the online submission portal came faster processing. In some CBI programmes, the entire spectrum of documents was required for a file to be accepted by the country’s CBI Unit.
With the new online submission feature, licensed agents are now allowed to submit applications sooner, with fewer supporting documents, and commence the process of assessing the applications, as long as the documents required for due diligence are included. This was especially beneficial for applicants in countries where certain documents were challenging to gather.
With a more convenient submission process, applicants can now focus on obtaining and submitting their remaining documents at the same time as their applications are being processed. By allowing due diligence documents to be submitted and the due diligence process to commence without all of the documents, Caribbean CIPs have been able to reduce their processing time significantly.

VALUE ADDED INCENTIVES

CBI programs are now making adjustments to become more competitive! Conscious that investors are watching their spending, Caribbean CIPs have begun adding value to their citizenship offers. The most noticeable of these COVID relief specials was the adjustment of application costs, as some countries reduced the investment threshold – particularly for families. Another was the expansion of the definition of dependents – including the types of family members one could apply with, as well as those one could add retroactively to an application. The addition of money-back offers in the form of government bonds was also introduced to incentivise investments. With increased concern for one’s future and the future of loved ones, it is difficult to find options within CBI programmes that cater to unique households. However, the amended definition has relieved many concerns and heightened the appeal for second citizenship.

REALISING THE NEED FOR A SECOND HOME AND NATIONALITY.

The most noticeable of all silver linings has been the realisation by individuals that they could potentially become hostage in countries where they have no civil liberties and where there may be social, economic and political unrest that hinders their quality of life. In some countries, the continued devaluation of currencies amidst increasing fiscal controls reduces international buying power and personal net worth. In others, health systems lack the capacity to deal with health crises of similar or worse proportions. Being confined to these countries and their circumstances can be a frightening thought for many and is the reason many have come to realise the security and greater value achieved by gaining a second citizenship from a smaller country.

As for first-world citizens in countries that were greatly affected by the pandemic, having a second citizenship could result in less discrimination and delays when crossing borders. Now, more than ever before, having a plan B option, such as a second citizenship, is greatly appreciated. These silver linings have only reaffirmed what I have learned first-hand throughout my years of experience within this CBI industry, which is that in the middle of difficulty lies opportunity! This remains true today as there are greater advantages on the consumers end with respect to citizenship by investment. Despite the challenges and setbacks that this pandemic has thrown our way, it is important for us to take time to look at the silver linings and determine how we can maximise the investment opportunities presented while they are available. We must keep in mind that this “new normal” may very well be a lasting change and life adjustments must be made.

Though initial change is uncomfortable, the decisions we make today, such as getting a second citizenship, may change our lives and our future for the best.

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