Mr Mohammed Asaria, a British-born Grenada industrialist and managing director of Citizenship by Investment (CBI), in this interview with MOSES ORJIME, explains why he is targeting the Nigerian hospitality industry, among others
For the benefit of hindsight, what do you mean by Citizenship by Investment?
Citizenship by Investment (CBI), sometimes referred to as Economic Citizenship, is a process by which foreign nationals can receive a second citizenship in exchange for a monetary investment in the target country. The foreign investor’s money is typically invested in a government-approved real estate project. For example, by investing $220,000, plus associated government fees in our government-approved Six Senses real estate project on the island nation of Grenada, investors and their families are granted dual citizenship without the need to visit or reside on the island.
Citizenship is granted expeditiously within a three-month period. Citizenship of Grenada allows an individual the ability to travel to 140 countries (including the UK, Schengen, Russia, China and many more) without the need for a prior visa, and moreover allows them to make an investment (suggested minimum of $150,000) in the United States in exchange for residency under the e2 visa program (this may be achieved within a six week period).
Citizenship by Investment is a solid investment decision, as it provides the investor with global mobility, a hedge against current political, social and economic anxieties, and the opportunity to migrate to the US, if so desired. The opportunity secures a family’s future with citizenship for life, including an unlimited number of eligible dependents, passed down to generations (applicants are not required to visit or reside on the islands). Particularly when investing in Grenada, there is a relatively low minimum amount required, as well as favourable tax laws and dual-citizenship regulations.
How would you rate the level of acceptance and how do you see this in five years’ time?
We are very selective when it comes to who we take on board as clients, and for this reason we have over a 95 per cent acceptance rate. We work with the most renowned lawyers in Grenada and the United States to ensure our clients applications are handled in the most professional and efficient manner. Year on year, the demand for second citizenship is growing. In 2020, Grenada recorded a 25 per cent increase in the number of applications and the government singled out Range Developments as the prime contributor to this increase.
What has been the recent trends in the demand for second citizenship, especially from developing countries? Would you say the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic played any role in this, positive or negative?
At Range Developments, we have seen a significant uptick in interest and demand for second citizenships, from developing countries and beyond. The worldwide pandemic has certainly played a role in this increase, as wealthy individuals and their families seek safe, isolated opportunities for a second residence, and a path to dual citizenship.
Travel restrictions will be with us for the foreseeable future and visas will be harder to acquire. So, for high net worth individuals from the emerging markets, the need for a citizenship which provides wide visa free travel is no longer a luxury it is a necessity so they may continue their businesses in an uninterrupted manner. Aside from restrictions on personal mobility, the COVID-19 pandemic will inevitably lead to heightened capital controls and additional taxes on the wealthy. Second Citizenship can mitigate against some of these challenges.
Can you take us through Range Development’s track-record and success stories you have had in helping immigrant investors secure second citizenship and US residency?
Since our founding in 2011, Range Developments has emerged as the global leader in the field of citizenship by investment development. We are the only CBI developer that has completed two 5-star luxury resorts. Our track record speaks for itself – we work with world-renowned brands such as Park Hyatt St. Kitts (opened in 2017), the Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski Dominica (opened in 2019) and, in Grenada, Six Senses La Sagesse. Our hotels have featured widely and won awards in the top media outlets including CNN, Bloomberg, The New York Times, Caribbean Journal, and Vogue. Our projects have attracted over 1,600 investors and helped more than 4,000 individuals gain second citizenship so far.
With increasingly tightened restrictions on immigration to the United States, CBI programmes may be the only option for immigrants seeking a better life for their families. There is a ban on Nigerians applying for permanent residency in the United States, this is on top of the recent suspension of L1 and H1B visas.
Grenada, through its unique treaty with the United States, facilitates an avenue for Grenadian citizens and their families to live in the United States through the E2 visa programme. An E2 visa may be obtained in as little as six weeks and requires an investment to be made in the investor’s own business – there is no stipulated minimum amount but $150,000 is recommended in practice.
Your third citizenship by investment project Six Senses La Sagesse is underway. Can you share what the project is about and how it is relevant to Nigerians seeking second citizenship and US residency? Why is this very important?
Six Senses La Sagesse, expected to be complete by 2022, is slated to feature 100 luxury rooms and suites, oceanfront villas, spas, shops and watersports’ facilities. Six Senses is considered one of the world’s leading luxury hotel brands and is part of the Intercontinental Hotel Group. By investing in our government-approved project, Nigerians will have a clear, reliable path to second citizenship in Grenada and residency in the US. Due to the recent suspension of L1, H1B visas for all foreigners and a temporary ban of EB5 visas to Nigerians by the US government, one of the only ways to move to the US is through applying for an E2 visa. And this is where Grenada is unique, in the access it offers to this type of visa. We have assisted many Nigerians with this route to the United States.