On January 22, 2024, the European Union (EU) raised issues about Dominica’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program, specifically its high-volume, low-cost model that resulted in 34,500 passports issued. This critical meeting in Dominica, involving EU representatives and five Caribbean nations, focused on assessing the impact of these policies on the EU visa waiver program.
The meeting, held at the Intercontinental Dominica Cabrits Resort, brought together officials from the EU Directorate General of Migration and Home Affairs and representatives from Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St Kitts & Nevis, and St Lucia.
The discussions centered on the visa waiver agreements between these countries and the EU, examining the potential security risks and immigration challenges posed by the extensive reach of the CBI programs.
EU officials at the meeting expressed their apprehension about the national security and immigration risks associated with granting citizenship to a large number of individuals. They suggested that Caribbean countries consider raising the cost of their CBI programs to reduce the volume of applications and, consequently, the risk. This suggestion aligns with the European Commission’s broader strategy following its October 2023 call for a review of the regulations governing Caribbean CBI programs.
The European Commission’s report in October 2023 revealed that a total of 88,000 passports had been sold by the five Caribbean countries, with Dominica’s 34,500 passports accounting for a significant portion.
The high volume of passport sales, which grants visa-free access to the EU, raised concerns about potential infiltration of organized crime, money laundering, tax evasion, and corruption.
In response, the European Commission is considering revising regulations to more effectively address these risks. The proposed amendments aim to simplify the process for suspending visa-free travel from countries offering citizenship in exchange for investment. This move is designed to prevent abuse and address the risks associated with individuals who have obtained citizenship through CBI programs.
Despite the EU’s concerns, Caribbean nations view their CBI programs as vital economic assets. A Bloomberg report from January 2024 stated that these programs generate approximately $579 million annually.
Caribbean leaders, like Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit, have emphasized the substantial economic and social benefits these programs have brought to their citizens. However, the EU’s potential crackdown on these programs threatens to disrupt the economies of these nations, raising concerns about their future stability in the face of stringent international regulations.
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