Paul Williams is the Chief Executive Officer and founder of La Vida Golden Visas. Paul qualified as a Chartered Accountant with accountants PWC subsequently working with consultants Deloitte and held several senior positions at multinational companies before forming La Vida in 2002. With a career that spans 30 years, Paul has advised many high-net-worth individuals, families and companies on international accountancy, investment property, residency and golden visas. Paul is an Advisory Board Member for the Investment Migration Council, the worldwide association for investor immigration and citizenship-by-investment. In this interview with IFEOMA OKEKE, he speaks on opportunities inherent in investing in a quality government-approved citizenship by investment programme and the Grenadian Citizenship by investment (CBI) programme amongst others issues.
We have seen an increasing trend of Dual Citizenship across the globe and most especially from Africa. Why now?
Whenever geopolitical issues arise in any country, we tend to see an increase in demand for second citizenship or residency. With so much uncertainty currently in the world, people are often looking for a ‘’Plan B’’. More than ever before, there is an increased awareness of such programmes which is also driving the demand. Ten years ago, there were just a handful of citizenship by investment programmes available, but the industry has grown substantially in the last decade and there are now more than 80 investor visa options available across the globe. Africa’s affluent middle class are also becoming wealthier, giving them the opportunity and motivation to take part in citizenship by investment programmes.
What are the current challenges with the Nigerian passport?
As a standalone passport, Nigerians have visa-free travel to just 54 countries and territories worldwide. Many are other African countries such as Ghana and Ethiopia. When you break this down, Nigerian passport holders, shockingly, have access to just 2.1 percent of the world’s GDP or 3.1 percent of the world’s travel popularity. For HNWIs and business people from Nigeria, this is very limiting and could be holding them back from various opportunities, restricting them with business, education and leisure.
How can Nigerians step up their global travel?
Investing in a quality government-approved citizenship by investment programme will enhance your visa-free travel access dramatically, and in turn, open up other opportunities. For example, if you pair a Grenadian passport with a Nigerian passport, one will gain access to 163 destinations worldwide, which includes the UK, EU Schengen zone, China and Russia. Now you have visa-free access to 58.7 percent of the world’s GDP, a huge improvement on the 2.1 prcent that a standalone Nigerian passport offers.
How do you apply for Grenadian Citizenship by investment (CBI) and what are the benefits?
Grenada’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) is one of the world’s top ranked CBI programmes and allows individuals and their families to obtain citizenship in Grenada. It offers a user-friendly second citizenship and a first-class investment opportunity whereby applicants can buy Government-approved real estate from USD220,000 like a unit in the Kimpton Kawana Bay resort, which is currently the most popular project. An application for Citizenship by Investment in Grenada takes only 60-90 days, has low family fees, and no interview, education, language test or management experience is required. There are no residency requirements and dual citizenship is permitted. Once your passports are issued, you have visa-free travel to over 140 countries. Grenada does not tax worldwide income, wealth, gift, inheritance or capital gains.
What is the Grenadian Citizenship by Investment project and how does it work?
Kimpton Kawana Bay is a new beachfront 5-star luxury resort in Grenada. Title deeded studios and suites are for sale for the minimum investment of $220,000 through Grenada’s acclaimed Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme, which allows purchasers to apply for Grenadian citizenship for themselves and their family in one application. The resort is ideally positioned on Grand Anse Beach, voted by CNN and Condé Nast Traveller as one of the world’s best beaches. The resort will be operated by an internationally recognised hotel brand – Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, part of IHG (InterContinental Hotels Group), one of the largest hotel groups in the world.
What are the benefits for investors at Kimpton Kawana Bay?
Kimpton Kawana Bay offers hassle-free ownership with no annual out of pocket fees. There is a projected rental income of 3-5 percent through the transparent revenue-sharing model and personal accommodation usage of up to two weeks each year. After five years, you can disinvest and recoup your initial investment. The hotel will feature an infinity edge pool overlooking Grand Anse Beach, state-of-the-art gym and spa facilities, exquisite fine dining restaurant, roof-top bar, beach bar, lounge with terrace, and water sports facilities.
What does it cost and who is this best suited for?
Asides from the $220,000 investment in the Kimpton Kawana Bay project, investors will need to budget for the government’s application, processing and due diligence fees. For a single applicant, the total cost, inclusive of fees will be $306,000, whereas a family of four would be around $320,000, depending on the ages of the children. A typical Nigerian investor taking part in the programme could be a businessperson looking to extend their global reach, or an affluent middle-class family who may want to broaden their global opportunities, both for business and education reasons. It’s rare that applicants look to relocate to Grenada, and the beauty of the programme is that there is no requirement to do so.
Why should more wealthy Nigerians adopt a second Passport?
Visa-free travel, increased global business and education opportunities, creating a legacy for one’s family and having a ‘’Plan B’’ are just some of the many reasons investors take up second citizenship. Grenadian Citizenship offers several added attractions that many of its competitor countries do not. Grenada is one of the only CBI countries which has visa-free access to China and Russia. Grenada is also the only Caribbean CBI country to hold an E-2 Visa treaty with the USA. This means, once Grenadian citizenship has been granted, there is the opportunity to then apply for residency in the USA through business investment, should one wish to do so.
How long does it take from investment to citizenship?
The government processing time is between 60-90 days from the date the application is submitted. La Vida’s in-house processing team will assist applicants with the entire process from start to finish, providing investors with a seamless and stress-free service.
What is the E2 visa and why does it matter?
The E-2 Visa is an optional and secondary application which is available as an extra service to those who may want to gain residency in the USA. Should investors decide to take this step, they need to budget for an additional investment into a US business. There is no fixed amount set by the government, but it is recommended that applicants invest a minimum of $120,000 upwards and become at least a 50 percent shareholder in the company. This route is fast becoming more popular than the direct EB5 programme to the US which has lengthy delays and requires a much larger investment of $900,000+. It’s important to note that the E-2 visa category is not affected by the recent immigration bans announced by president Trump.
How long does the E2 Visa take to process?
The timeframe for this is usually two months from the time the E2 application and business investment are made. Applicants will be issued with a five year US residency visa with unlimited renewals.
What is it like, living in Grenada?
Grenada is an enchanting and unspoiled tropical island located in the Caribbean. Grenada boasts the quintessential laidback Caribbean lifestyle with lush landscapes, pristine beaches, and warm and friendly people, many of which have historical family ties back to West Africa. The official language spoken in Grenada is English and the population of Grenada is approximately 112,000 people. The magnificent environment with its safe surroundings and exquisite new resorts makes Grenada an alluring destination for tourists and investors. The country is one of the most open and business friendly economies in the region and continues to grow steadily. The island has an established health care system and is home to St George’s University, one of the world’s largest American accredited medical schools, drawing students and faculty from 140 countries. It is easily accessible with a number of daily direct flights into Grenada’s International Airport from major US cities, London and a number of regional flights from the surrounding islands. The airport also offers fixed-based operator services for private jets.
Grenada is close to the equator, which ensures a year-round tropical climate. Its cooling trade winds make temperatures comfortable. Most notably it is located outside of the hurricane belt.
From your own perspective why is this a much needed opportunity for Nigerians asides chasing the American or English dream?
It’s different in that this is about access, visa free travel and a Plan B. With the direct US and UK immigration options, applicants are usually required to reside full time in the country. Many Nigerians do not wish to leave their country and relocate, they just want more flexibility. Grenada’s CBI programme has no minimum stay requirement. As it is part of the commonwealth, Grenadian passport holders are entitled to spend up to six months per year in the UK too.