The COVID pandemic is one of the greatest global catastrophes in recent memory. Global lockdowns, economic crisis, and strained healthcare infrastructures all impacted nations all around the globe. But one major lesson the pandemic made utterly clear is the importance of a Plan B, and there is no better one than a second citizenship.
As the world’s elite became more aware of their need for a second citizenship and began looking for solutions in the form of citizenship by investment, they found a plethora of options waiting for them. Among those options was the Pacific nation Vanuatu and its citizenship by investment program.
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Vanuatu’s investment-based citizenship scheme has been around since early 2014, and while it remains extremely popular among the Chinese, more High-Net-Worth individuals from around the globe have taken note and moved to obtain a Vanuatu passport.
The program has a simple premise, donate 130,000 USD for a single applicant, or 220,000 USD for a family of four to the Vanuatu Government to obtain Vanuatuan citizenship.
The program’s cost-effective pricing has long played a part in its popularity among the globe’s investors, but it was during the pandemic that Vanuatu saw demand skyrocket, and this heightened interest is what we will be dissecting in this article.
Following The Trend
The years prior to the pandemic saw steady growth in the number of applications submitted to the Vanuatuan government, with the pinnacle of growth coming between 2018 and 2019 when applications almost tripled, going from 445 to 1,182.
This extreme increase was no fluke, Vanuatu’s government has been working tirelessly on increasing awareness about their program, and it has looked to enlist more agents throughout the globe.
But then the pandemic struck, and everything came to a halt, or so we thought. Vanuatu’s program kept going strong, and while official numbers are yet to be published for 2020, we have good cause to predict an even greater number of applications were submitted during the height of the pandemic.
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This calculated prediction comes from numbers published by Vanuatu’s Ministry of Finance, which shared the amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) brought in by the citizenship by investment program for 2020. This amount correlates directly with the number of applications, and the total FDI for 2020 is about 30% higher than that of 2019, indicating an even higher number of applications.
Annual FDI Raised through CIP in Million USD
Then, the real question isn’t whether Vanuatu received more applications during a pandemic-ridden 2020, but why it did.
The Reasons For Vanuatu’s Upturn In Fortunes
Vanuatu has been diligently upgrading its program, and the flexible framework, seamless payment structure, and unique requirements allowed it to flourish during the pandemic. Here are the most significant factors that helped Vanuatu’s program thrive:
Vanuatu’s program can be done remotely without the need to travel to the country. Applicants and agents can complete the application and send it to the nation without ever getting on a plane.
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While the country did require applicants to take their oath in a consulate or embassy (which may not be present in their country of origin), the government did suspend this requirement and turned to virtual oath ceremonies to make it easier for applicants to complete all the requirements remotely.
One of the main differences between the Vanuatuan program and other citizenship by investment programs in the Caribbean is the issue of denied visas.
In the Caribbean, if you are denied a visa from a country on the nation’s visa-free travel list, you must re-apply and obtain approval before applying. For example, if you are denied a visit visa to the United Kingdom, and then apply for the St. Lucia citizenship by investment program which awards you a passport that travels without a visa to the UK, your application will not be accepted.
In normal times this would not be an issue, as you would just re-apply for the visa. But in a time when consulates were closed and international travel was banned, getting a visa for any country became near impossible.
Vanuatu does not have this requirement, making it easier for those with a rejected visa to apply for Vanuatu citizenship.
Accepting Multiple Currencies
Vanuatu prices its program in USD, but that doesn’t mean you have to pay in American Dollars. The program accepts Australian Dollars (AUD), New Zealand Dollars (NZD), and Japanese Yen (JPY).
In a time when banks were restricted to lower workforces and shorter working hours, being able to utilize your monies in their current state was a godsend.
The Future Is Bright
Vanuatu’s rise to prominence is no blunder but the result of tireless efforts by the government to improve its program and meet the needs of global investors.
While the program is now extremely popular, Vanuatu is not resting on its current achievements but instead continuing to improve its offerings, most notably through the latest bill that proposes the addition of a real estate option to the program. Parliament approved the bill, and it is now only a matter of time before Vanuatu’s Citizenship by Investment Program gets an entirely new dimension.
The government’s well-documented efforts in trying to get an Afghani family that holds a Vanuatuan passport outside of Afghanistan during the Taliban takeover is another testament to the Pacific nation’s commitment to its newly drafted citizens.
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Continuous improvement and heightened awareness are the foundations of increasing demand for its program, and Vanuatu is currently ticking all the right boxes.
Vanuatu offers one of the most enticing programs in the world, but it isn’t the only one that is gaining momentum. Choosing the right citizenship by investment program that can transform your life for the better requires top-tier consulting, and that is exactly what we at Savory & Partners specialize in. To know more about Vanuatu in particular, or citizenship by investment in general, contact us today for a free consultation with one of our seasoned consultants.
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