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Caribbean CBI programs could be affected as the EU examines its’ visa waiver policy.

Caribbean nations running Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs face potential visa-free access challenges to the European Union, as the EU is actively fortifying its visa waiver initiative for enhanced security and to counter illegal migration.

As of October 18, the EU Commission has proposed regulatory changes to the existing visa suspension mechanism, aiming to curb misuse of the visa waiver program and address risks associated with individuals acquiring citizenship through CBI programs.

The EU’s visa waiver program permits citizens from 60 countries to travel to 27 Schengen zone nations for up to 90 days for tourism and business purposes.

Key proposals outlined in the sixth report under the Visa Suspension Mechanism are:

  1. Broaden the grounds for the suspension to encompass non-EU countries not fully aligning with the EU’s visa policy and non-EU countries with investor citizenship schemes.
  2. Extend the duration of the procedure to allow for more time to implement corrective measures, introducing an urgency procedure for swift responses to sudden challenges.
  3. Reinforce the Commission’s monitoring and reporting obligations to visa-free countries facing identified challenges.

Expressing concern, the EU highlighted the significant number of passports sold by Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia, totalling 88,000 since the initiation of their programs.

Notably, Dominica, with a population of just over 72,000, issued 34,500 passports, while St Kitts and Nevis issued 36,742. The EU Commission flagged the programs for low rejection rates (3-6%) and rapid processing times (at least two months). These programs are among the world’s most affordable, with a minimum investment of US$100,000, often utilizing intermediaries to process applications, raising concerns about adherence to stated rules.

Based on the information received, the EU identified China, Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Nigeria, and Libya as the primary applicants for CBI programs. Acknowledging the suspension of applications from Russian and Belarusian nationals, the Commission pledged ongoing vigilance, aiming to monitor all visa-free countries with investor citizenship schemes and intensify dialogue for long-term solutions to prevent potential circumventions of EU visa procedures and thoroughly assess individual migration and security risks.

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