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Bahamas may review citizenship options for HNWIs

More routes to residency and citizenship in The Bahamas for high-net-worth individuals could deliver a significant economic boost for the country, according to immigration lawyers. Pictured: Reaz H Jafri, Head of Immigration - US and Asia, Withers Bergman LLP speaking at The Nassau Conference held at The British Colonial Hilton Hotel in downtown Nassau. (Harry Cutting photo/©Dupuch)

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TheBahamasInvestor.com
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Wednesday, October 29, 2014

More routes to residency and citizenship in The Bahamas for high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) could deliver a significant economic boost for the country, according to immigration lawyers.

Many countries around the globe have developed citizenship by investment programmes, and The Bahamas could follow suit suggested Reaz Jafri head of immigration, Asia & US at Withers Bergman LLP and partner at Withersworldwide Joseph Field during a panel discussion at this week’s Nassau Conference.


In Europe, Portugal and Malta have both recently expanded their citizenship requirements to enable investors to obtain a passport–the Portuguese government issued more than 1,400 permits in the past year to foreigners buying property–and in the Caribbean, St Kitts & Nevis, Grenada, Antigua and Domenica have also granted citizenship to wealthy foreigners on the basis of investments.

“There are some very high class jurisdictions that are doing this,” said Jafri, who suggested that making residency more accessible for wealthy foreigners could bring “a real major economic benefit.”

Requirements could be tailored for The Bahamas’s specific needs, he added, such as requiring investment in certain sectors.

Bahamian law currently grants residency to investors buying property worth at least $500,000. Minister of Financial Services Ryan Pinder commented that although there are no plans to alter this law at the moment, it is something that could be examined in the future–particularly in regards to Chinese investors who are keen to set up commercial operations in The Bahamas.

“A transparent regime for permanent residence is something that will differentiate a country like The Bahamas from others,” he said. “The idea of a framework for markets such as China [where] we could create a commercial product that gives them the right to live and work–that is where you are going to see some innovative permanent residency options for The Bahamas.”

The Nassau Conference took place last week at the British Colonial Hilton, Nassau. The theme of the event was Engaging in a Transparent World and topics discussed included compliance, private sector engagement and key markets.

cmorris@dupuch.com

Prime Minister Perry Christie hosted a Diplomatic Week Dinner for members of the Foreign Service October 24 at the Balmoral Club.

The first Bahamas Diplomatic Week culminated with a state reception at Government House October 25, hosted by governor general Dame Marguerite Pindling. See photos of the event here.

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