St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship scheme gets a lift from coronavirus pandemic

St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship scheme gets a lift from coronavirus pandemic
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St. Kitts has been relatively unscathed by COVID-19. The island was placed on lockdown on March 31 after its number of cases rose to eight. (Supplied)
St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship scheme gets a lift from coronavirus pandemic
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St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship scheme gets a lift from coronavirus pandemic
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Updated 12 August 2020

St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship scheme gets a lift from coronavirus pandemic

St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship scheme gets a lift from coronavirus pandemic
  • Holders of passport of Caribbean nation of St. Kitts and Nevis have visa-free access to 156 countries
  • Citizenship by Investment program proves attractive to individuals of high net worth and their families

DUBAI: If you have been dreaming of getting away from the uncertainty caused by the coronavirus pandemic, you can — provided you have some cash in hand.

For the starting sum of $150,000, you can buy your citizenship of the pristine Caribbean islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis.

With their pure white sands, swaying palm trees and sparkling blue waters, the islands offer the affluent both a welcome retreat and a secondary citizenship.

The Citizenship by Investment (CBI) program grants citizenship to individuals of high net worth and their families, who get in addition visa-free access to 156 countries, including EU member states and the UK.

Seemingly for this reason, the St. Kitts and Nevis CBI program has witnessed a notable increase in applications from the Arab world during the pandemic.

St. Kitts has been relatively unscathed by COVID-19. The island was placed on lockdown on March 31 after its number of cases rose to eight.

The lockdown was lifted on April 27, but the government has imposed the mandatory use of masks while outdoors.

To date, there have been 15 COVID-19 cases and no deaths.

“We have been seeing an increase in interest recently from the Middle East, especially as the lockdowns ease,” Les Khan, CEO of the St. Kitts and Nevis CBI Unit, told Arab News.

“Most of our applicants from the Middle East are families. Due to the pandemic, these individuals want to have the flexibility to travel and visit their families and children overseas with ease.”

Moe Alhaj, CEO of Migrate World Ltd, said, “There’s been a notable increase — of around 40 percent — in applicants from the Arab world during the pandemic.”

Migrate World Ltd is one of the authorized representatives for the St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship program for the Middle East and Africa regions.

Nationals of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries are not allowed to hold dual citizenships.

“The individuals that the program caters to in the Middle East are largely from Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia,” added Alhaj. The program does not accept applicants from Iran, Afghanistan and North Korea.

Due to the current global restrictions in place to curb the spread of COVID-19, applications are being received electronically.

The highest number of applications following those from the Middle East come from China, the program spokesperson told Arab News.

Launched in 1984, the St. Kitts and Nevis CBI program’s initial purpose was to assist the islands’ economy, which had suffered due to the collapse of its sugar industry.

“The CBI program began as a way to stimulate foreign direct investment into the country,” explained Khan.

There are currently around eight countries that offer citizenship by investment, but the St. Kitts and Nevis program is by far the oldest. In the Caribbean, there are currently around five other programs of this nature.

FASTFACT

The St. Kitts and Nevis citizenship affords visa-free travel to 156 countries, including EU and UK

“The St. Kitts and Nevis CBI program has become recognized as the platinum brand,” said Khan.

All other programs — such as the Canadian visa program and the US EB-5 investor visa — came in the wake of this one and are largely residence programs, Khan explained.

“This means that you invest a lot of money, get residency and after five to seven years, you obtain citizenship. In the case of the St. Kitts and Nevis CBI program, you get citizenship after three months.

“One of the main reasons why people want this citizenship is to able to travel with a passport that allows them visa-free access to numerous countries,” Khan said.

“Secondly, citizenship acts as an insurance policy; a second passport gives individuals flexibility. Thirdly, people are looking for alternative lifestyles. Where else would you want to be other than in the Caribbean, on one of the finest islands?”

Education is also an important factor to consider, especially for parents who are looking to enroll their children in a different environment.

“There are multiple reasons why people want another citizenship,” said Alhaj.

“Some do it for work mobility, so that they don’t have to obtain a visa to attend a meeting in the UK or elsewhere in Europe. With the St. Kitts passport, you can hop on a plane and go directly to Europe or to the UK or to the many other countries that are part of the visa-free list.”

“Another aspect that lures applicants is the lifestyle — the vacations that St Kitts and Nevis offers,” said Alhaj. “There is also healthcare access for individuals with long-term issues.”

Alhaj said the process of application is straightforward and takes anywhere from three to six months.

“This is after a due-diligence process that runs a check from all government agencies around the world to make sure that the individual is in good standing and hasn’t been arrested before,” he explained.

The checks also involve looking out for money laundering instances by the applicant and whether they have been or are on any sanctions lists.

In terms of documentation, applicants need to submit birth and marriage certificates, bank statements, reference letters, utility bills, and title deeds or rental agreements, among other documents. They must also undergo a medical check-up, which includes taking an HIV test.

With regard to the cost of obtaining citizenship, Alhaj explained that the applicant could choose between two options — a contribution option that starts at $150,000 in addition to other fees, and a real-estate option that begins at $200,000 and includes investment in property or in the shares of a resort on the islands.

The contribution amount, he informed, increases depending on the size of the family that is applying.

“For the life-changing services you’re getting, these are very inexpensive options,” said Alhaj.

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@rebeccaaproctor


Wife of Briton detained in Iran urges PM to secure his release

A British-Iranian dual citizen being held prisoner in Iran has lost access to a phone, depriving him of his lifeline to sanity and the outside world, according to his wife. (AFP/File Photo)
A British-Iranian dual citizen being held prisoner in Iran has lost access to a phone, depriving him of his lifeline to sanity and the outside world, according to his wife. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 1 min 24 sec ago

Wife of Briton detained in Iran urges PM to secure his release

A British-Iranian dual citizen being held prisoner in Iran has lost access to a phone, depriving him of his lifeline to sanity and the outside world, according to his wife. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Family: Anoosheh Ashoori, 67, has been in ‘hell’ since his detention 4 years ago
  • ‘It has been more than a year since our family requested a meeting with the prime minister. He is apparently unable to meet us’

LONDON: The wife of a British citizen held in an Iranian jail for four years has pleaded with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to show he “genuinely cares” by securing his release.

Anoosheh Ashoori, 67, has been in “hell,” his family said, since he was arrested on a visit to Iran and later convicted of spying for Israel — charges he denies.

He is now four years into a 10-year sentence in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, which is often used for detained dual nationals.

During his time in jail, there have been serious concerns about Ashoori’s health, particularly as COVID-19 ravaged Iran’s prison system.

In a letter to The Times, his wife Sherry Izadi insisted that the charges against him are entirely fabricated, and accused Johnson of avoiding a request for a meeting to discuss the case.

“Boris Johnson says that the plight of Anoosheh ... ‘remains a top priority.’ Yet actions speak louder than words,” Izadi wrote.

“It has been more than a year since our family requested a meeting with the prime minister. He is apparently unable to meet us.”

Johnson did meet with Richard Ratcliffe, husband of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, last year. She remains in detention in Iran, and is currently on bail and living in her parents’ Tehran home while she awaits news of her fate.

Last month, an Iranian newspaper suggested that Ashoori and Zaghari-Ratcliffe were being considered for a prisoner swap along with American detainees, but this was publicly denied by the US.

The British Foreign Office said it has raised Ashoori’s case with Tehran. A spokesperson said: “Iran’s continued arbitrary detention of our dual nationals is unacceptable and is a stain on Iran’s international reputation. We urge the Iranian authorities to do the right thing and release the detainees.”

Tehran faces regular criticism for its treatment of foreign nationals, particularly those with dual Iranian citizenship.

“Having citizens with deep connections to other cultures and countries is an asset, not a criminal offense,” said Human Rights Watch.

“But Iran’s security apparatus has apparently made the despicable decision to use these individuals as bargaining chips to resolve diplomatic disputes.”


US, UK embassies in Afghanistan accuse Taliban of possible war crimes

US, UK embassies in Afghanistan accuse Taliban of possible war crimes
Updated 35 min 39 sec ago

US, UK embassies in Afghanistan accuse Taliban of possible war crimes

US, UK embassies in Afghanistan accuse Taliban of possible war crimes
  • Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban negotiating team member based in Doha, told Reuters that tweets containing the accusations were "baseless reports"
  • U.S. Embassy in Kabul tweeted accusing the Taliban of killing dozens of civilians in Kandahar province

KABUL: The US and British embassies in Kabul said on Monday the insurgent Taliban may have committed war crimes in southern Afghanistan by carrying out revenge murders of civilians, a charge denied by the insurgents.
Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban negotiating team member based in Doha, told Reuters that tweets containing the accusations were “baseless reports.”
The US Embassy in the capital Kabul tweeted a statement accusing the Taliban of killing dozens of civilians in the area of Spin Boldak in southern Kandahar province. The statement was also tweeted by the British embassy.
“These murders could constitute war crimes; they must be investigated & those Taliban fighters or commanders responsible held accountable,” the US Embassy tweeted.
In a second tweet, it said: “The Taliban’s leadership must be held responsible for the crimes of their fighters. If you cannot control your fighters now, you have no business in governance later.”
The tweets, accompanied by calls for a cease-fire, stepped up the United States’ public criticism of the group as US troops withdraw and the Taliban goes on the offensive.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said last week that Afghanistan would become a ‘pariah state’ if any future Taliban rule in Afghanistan resulted in atrocities against civilians.
The insurgents gained control last month of the strategic area of Spin Boldak, which lies at a border and trade crossing with Pakistan, and heavy fighting has taken place since as Afghan forces try to recapture the area.


Scotland health secretary reports nursery for discrimination over Muslim name

Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has alleged that a local nursery discriminated against his 2-year-old daughter. (Screenshot/File Photo)
Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has alleged that a local nursery discriminated against his 2-year-old daughter. (Screenshot/File Photo)
Updated 31 min 50 sec ago

Scotland health secretary reports nursery for discrimination over Muslim name

Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has alleged that a local nursery discriminated against his 2-year-old daughter. (Screenshot/File Photo)
  • Newspaper probe revealed pupils with non-Muslim names offered places, children with Muslim names rejected
  • Humza Yousaf: ‘We are fooling ourselves if we believe discrimination doesn’t exist in Scotland’ 

LONDON: Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf has alleged that a local nursery denied his daughter, 2, a place “because of her Muslim name.”

He is taking his case to the care authorities for review after finding out that the Little Scholars Nursery in Dundee, Scotland, was willing to offer a place to a white friend’s child having denied his own daughter Amal a place.

Yousaf said he and his wife Nadia El-Nakla had contacted the nursery in May asking if they had places available.

They said they were told that there were “no available spaces in the nursery” — the second time the couple said they had been turned down.

But when they asked a white Scottish friend to contact the same place, the nursery responded and offered them places for three afternoons a week. The responses came less than 24 hours apart, said Yousaf.

He said when he became suspicious of the nursery he asked a local paper, the Daily Record, to investigate.

Its journalists created two applications for children of the same age and with the same requirements — one with a Muslim name, the other with a white Scottish name.

The child named Aqsa Akhtar was rejected, the Daily Record reported, while Susan Blake was offered a choice of four afternoons. 

“I cannot tell you how angry I am,” Yousaf tweeted. “As a father all I want to do is protect my girls, yet aged 2 I believe my daughter has faced discrimination. If this had not happened to me I’m not sure I would have believed it could happen in 2021. How many other families has this happened to?”

In a separate post, he added: “We are fooling ourselves if we believe discrimination doesn’t exist in Scotland.”

In a statement, Little Scholars Nursery said any claim that it is not open and inclusive to all is “demonstrably false.”

It added: “We note Mr Yousaf’s call for a Care Inspectorate investigation and this is something we would absolutely welcome. We have nothing to hide and look forward to the opportunity to demonstrate the policies and procedures we have in place to ensure we are a nursery that is open and welcoming to all.”

The Care Inspectorate, responsible for overseeing the fair and high-quality administration of care in Scotland, said “a concern has been raised” and it is considering the information received.


We need to get the travel industry moving again, UK PM Johnson says

We need to get the travel industry moving again, UK PM Johnson says
Updated 02 August 2021

We need to get the travel industry moving again, UK PM Johnson says

We need to get the travel industry moving again, UK PM Johnson says
  • "We need to get people, get the travel industry moving again," Johnson told reporters
  • Johnson's travel regulations have angered some of Britain's European allies, frustrated millions of sun-seeking Britons

LONDON: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Monday that he wanted to get the travel industry moving again with a simple user-friendly system to allow for trips abroad without importing new variants of the coronavirus.
“We need to get people, get the travel industry moving again,” Johnson told reporters. “We want an approach that is as simple as we can possibly make it.”
Britain has double vaccinated a higher proportion of its population against COVID-19 than most other countries, but the government has prevented travel to many destinations by imposing rules that the travel industry says are hobbling the economy.
Johnson’s travel regulations have angered some of Britain’s European allies, frustrated millions of sun-seeking Britons and brought warnings from airports, airlines and tour companies.
In a letter to Johnson that was leaked to media, finance minister Rishi Sunak called for an urgent easing of travel restrictions.
The Times newspaper reported that Britain planned to warn holidaymakers against visiting popular tourist destinations such as Spain because of concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Such a step could trigger an exodus of about a million British tourists already abroad, cause further damage to the travel sector and deal a new blow to southern Europe’s summer tourist season.
A spokesperson for Britain’s transport ministry declined to comment on The Times report, published on the day when rules were eased for double-vaccinated travelers from the United States and most of Europe.
Under rules to be reviewed on Thursday, double-vaccinated travelers can return without quarantining from countries rated “amber” on a “traffic-light” list assessing the COVID-19 risk.
Those returning from red-list countries — the most severe risk — must pay 1,750 pounds ($2,436) to spend 10 days in a hotel.
An amber watchlist was due to be signed off on Thursday but a split in the government could delay a decision, The Times said.
Citing the threat posed by the Beta coronavirus variant, England has maintained quarantine rules for double-vaccinated travelers from France, while scrapping the requirement for travelers from other medium-risk “amber” countries.
France has complained, saying the bulk of its Beta variant cases come from the island of La Reunion in the Indian Ocean.


Family of London terrorist claim his death was needless

The family of terrorist Sudesh Amman, who was shot dead by police after conducting a knifing rampage in London, are expected to question whether his life could have been saved. (AP/File Photo)
The family of terrorist Sudesh Amman, who was shot dead by police after conducting a knifing rampage in London, are expected to question whether his life could have been saved. (AP/File Photo)
Updated 02 August 2021

Family of London terrorist claim his death was needless

The family of terrorist Sudesh Amman, who was shot dead by police after conducting a knifing rampage in London, are expected to question whether his life could have been saved. (AP/File Photo)
  • Sudesh Amman shot dead after stabbing 2 people
  • Family say he could have been arrested before attack

LONDON: The family of a terrorist who was shot dead by police after conducting a knifing rampage in London are expected to question whether his life could have been saved by being arrested earlier.

It will be the first time relatives of an Islamist terrorist in Britain will ask in court if the killing of their relative was necessary.

The inquest into the death of Sudesh Amman, 20, who stabbed two random members of the public on Feb. 2, 2020, is due to open on Monday at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.

Amman was being closely observed by undercover reconnaissance officers when he was seen purchasing items for a fake suicide vest, which he put together in his probation hostel.

The next day, while being followed by officers, he quickly grabbed a knife from a shop and stabbed two passers-by in south London.

Both of his victims survived, but Amman was shot and killed by the armed team that was tracking him a minute after his rampage commenced.

His prison release on Jan. 23 meant that he had spent just 10 days in a probation hostel before he was killed.

At a pre-inquest hearing in July, Amman’s relatives queried if the police and MI5 could have arrested him before he was able to conduct the attack.

MI5, Britain’s domestic security service, has applied for intelligence about Amman to be given public interest immunity, which would limit its use in court or any inquiry.

Rajiv Menon QC, representing the Amman family, argued that immunity should not be given if the material “goes to the state of mind of any relevant police officer or security service agent, as to what Sudesh Amman was planning or contemplating.”

The lawyer said his clients have objected to a statement by a police officer known as HA6, who was the senior investigating officer on the “priority” operation against Amman.

The officer said police “could not effect an arrest,” but Menon argued that they “knew the day before that Amman had bought items that could be used to make a fake suicide vest.”

At the hearing at the High Court, he added: “We will be making the point that the police knew more than enough to effect an arrest and should have done so.”

At the time, investigators and surveillance officers feared an attack by Amman was imminent, keeping him under constant observation.

Jonathan Hough QC, for the coroner, said: “This is not a case of signs being missed. It is difficult to imagine a higher grade response, short of arrest and you will be aware of what HA6 says about why that was not feasible.”

The Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) is writing a supplementary report to cover the operation against Amman from January 2020.

The IOPC said on June 17 that during the investigation, “it is not anticipated that any concerns will arise as to the conduct of any police officers.”