The military conscription campaign ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin after the invasion of Ukraine sparked an influx of Russians who moved to neighboring countries, such as Turkey or Georgia, to obtain a passport to one of the islands in the Caribbean, especially for some of the wealthiest citizens.
The demand for wealthy Russians looking to escape is helping to increase applications for Grenada citizenship by investment, according to the program’s special adviser, Richard Hallam, who estimates they could make up the largest segment of applicants this year.
The Grenada passport can be obtained for an investment of at least $150,000. Applicants can obtain a passport that allows them to travel visa-free to more than 100 destinations, including China, the United Kingdom and the Schengen area in Europe. It is also the only Caribbean country that has an investor treaty with the United States that allows its citizens to apply for nonimmigrant visas.
Grenada initially barred Russians from obtaining a citizenship by investment program in March along with other Caribbean neighbors, but reversed course in June. Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda are among the countries that have maintained the ban.
Applications for investor visas in Grenada have nearly quadrupled, to nearly 200, since it repealed the ban on Russians, according to the country’s Ministry of Finance, which was reported by Bloomberg and seen by Al Arabiya.net.
Hallam, who holds Grenada citizenship through the Investment Initiative program and is also the investment director at Aura Caribbean, a resort development company he owns, said. Egyptian billionaire, Naguib Sawiris: “All those who were preparing the orders were in limbo” until the ban was lifted. “It’s like closing the tap and then reopening it.”
Leap in demand for Grenada passports
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has divided countries and regions over allowing Russian visitors, with the European Union in September making it difficult and expensive for them to visit. Meanwhile, many of Russia’s richest citizens have shifted their assets and luxury yachts to places like Dubai and Turkey to seek refuge from Western sanctions.
“If you’re not pro-Putin and you’re still in the country, you can’t get out,” Hallam said this week at the America Outbound Summit in New York. “Just because a certain Russian invaded a country, you can’t decide that all Russians are evil.”
Grenada, known as the “Island of Spice”, has become a politically stable tax haven since the US-led invasion in the 1980s, with no capital gains, inheritances or global income taxes. Its parliament created the citizenship-by-investment program in 2013, and it has since attracted some wealthy Chinese applicants looking to avoid the long backlog of similar US programs.
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