In a press release issued today, Roseau-based Advance Global Partners announces it is partnering with the government of Dominica to implement a new Entrepreneur Visa program under which those who invest from US$50,000 and spend three months a year in the country would qualify for naturalization in two years.
Press release reprinted in full below:
Roseau, September 7, 2020 – On Sunday, the Commonwealth of Dominica announced that it will be launching in the coming months the Entrepreneur Visa, which is a unique platform. This one of a kind visa recognizes the government’s interest in providing a unique status to applicants who make a significant financial investment in the country. It will add valuable foreign direct investment into the private sector. Moreover, it clearly defines the requirements for the grant of a residency permit via investment in an effort to encourage further investment into the island. Finally, this program represents additional avenues for engagement with investors who are looking for options beyond the Citizenship by Investment Program.
The client applying for the Entrepreneur Visa receives a 2-year residency permit, which will be issued within 45 days of approval, and can apply for naturalization after said 2 years, provided he meets all the criteria.
The applicant has three (3) options with respect to investment:
- Invest a minimum of 50,000 USD in an existing government-approved company through the Investment Fund.
- Invest a minimum of 100,000 USD in a new startup business locally registered in the Commonwealth of Dominica employing at least 3 full-time employees.
- Invest in a government-approved public sector or private sector venture as an equity investor.
What are the requirements?
The requirements are straight forward:
- Make of a deposit of a minimum amount of USD 100,000 in a local financial institution (please note that the funds may be used from Dominica and depleted during the residency period);
- Spend a minimum of 90 days out of 365 days per year in the country.
What are the benefits of the Dominica Entrepreneur Visa?
- Pathway to Dominica naturalization (visa-free travel to 140 countries including Schengen)
- Permanent residence for the whole family, including children under 21 years old
- Fast processing time
- Favourable tax regime
- Peaceful and clean environment, low pollution
- Great quality of life set amidst a tropical climate
- Political stability
- Great program for those who continue to live abroad but desire an alternate country of residence for themselves and their family members, for tax planning and other purposes
- Visa-free travel to CARICOM countries
- Ease of doing business in the Caribbean and beyond
- Investors will have real KYC value add from being real contributing members of a society in which they are intending to become citizens and are residents.
To find out more on the Dominica’s Entrepreneur Visa, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
[Signed Advance Global Partners]
Following the release of the statement, IMI reached out to Advance Global Partners’ Kenneth Green (who is also the author of a regular column – Keyword: Leeward – here on IMI) to obtain further details.
Q&A with Kenneth Green, Managing Partner of Advance Global Partners, the program’s concessionaire
IMI: How did this program come about?
Kenneth Green: It came about after multiple approaches from myself as Managing Partner of Advance Global Partners to the Government of Dominica, including a presentation to Cabinet, after having studied the performance of permanent residency programs versus citizenship by investment programs and assessing the needs for funds being injected into the private sector rather than simply for public sector use.
The Caribbean CBI programs are typically injections into the public purse with public sector priorities being financed in line with the development aims of each government. This is the first, we believe, residency program clearly focused on entrepreneurship, filling gaps of venture capital and angel investing, and also fulfilling the expressed aim of widening the private sector base.
IMI: Who will be administering the program? The CIU?
Kenneth Green: The program will be administered between Advance Global Partners and a special Investment Committee set up by the government, and the Ministry of Labour and Immigration.
IMI: And who exactly is on this Committee?
Kenneth Green: It hasn’t been named yet but it’s expected to be former private-sector bankers and finance specialists and high ranking technocrats from the Ministry of Finance.
IMI: Will the application procedure work the same way as for CIPs with KYC/AML controls etc?
Kenneth Green: Yes, it will. However, a major component of the AML will be done by the banks for whom all these applicants will be local resident clients.
IMI: Must people apply through accredited agents? And will these be the same who are currently accredited for the CIP?
Kenneth Green: Yes, they must apply through accredited agents. Prospective Entrepreneur Visa agents must apply for accreditation with the Ministry of Finance and the focus will be on agents locally domiciled in Dominica because of the demands of clients in navigating the local environment.
IMI: What is the program’s target demographic? Could you describe a typical applicant?
Kenneth Green: The typical applicant will be a high net worth individual who is looking for a second home and the added benefit of naturalizing in two years, whether in order to renounce their current citizenship or toadd to their existing citizenship. It is also targeted at entrepreneurs who may want to diversify their asset reach and protection as well as to gain additional security from living in the Caribbean and having a second citizenship as an ancillary benefit.
IMI: Can we get more details on the US$50,000 investment fund option? Who manages this fund? What will it invest in?
Kenneth Green: The Investment Committee will manage it. There will be a list of qualifying companies in which the Investment Committee will invest the funds as grant funds. This is to mitigate against the financial constraints many small businesses have in providing collateral and security in order to secure commercial loans and financing.
IMI: For the US$100,000 startup option, are there any stipulations as to sector or business type? And the three employees, does that include the founder and do they need to be local Dominica citizens or can they be anyone?
Kenneth Green: This will be decided by the soon-to-be-created Investment Committee. The sectors and business types will be updated yearly based on the demands of the country. The government will decide in concert with the Investment Committee, who will have private sector experience. The three employees have to be local Dominicans as this aspect of the program is geared towards increasing employment. Work permits will be granted for specialized skills that are not already available on-island, as needed.
IMI: For the third option (government-approved public or private venture), what type of companies are on the list of approved ventures? What is the lower limit in terms of investment amount/equity size?
Kenneth Green: This list is being worked on between the government and the Investment Committee and will be a combination of serious development ventures in which the government has a keen interest to get off the ground in a short time and which have been offering incentives. It will also include nationally sensitive ventures such as water plants, marinas, energy, recycling, etc., which need significant investment.
The lower limit has not been set as many of these ventures are capital intensive and will require customized offers for finance.
IMI: Your press release lists, as a requirement, the depositing of US$100,000 in a Dominica bank, which can be depleted over time. But does the US$100,000 still apply if you choose investment option number one, which only requires an investment of US$50,000?
Kenneth Green: The US$100,000 is, in effect, a source-of-funds for the applicant and has to be held in Dominica but can be depleted even when the investors are not in Dominica (i.e., they have spent their three months and are now traveling or spending time in their first country).
The main reason we apply this requirement it is to confirm that the applicant has the necessary funds to live on-island and be a vital contributor and, more importantly, to establish KYC-links with the local banks that will enable the latter to build a financial history over those two years of having a local bank account in Dominica, with funds that are being actively used.
This will be important when the applicant is asked to prove residency in Dominica (for example, if being queried when applying for a bank account elsewhere as a Dominica resident) and will be a vital instrument in also allowing the applicant to get further financial instruments locally and to be authenticated as creditworthy beyond their initial application data.
IMI: What now remains before the program can launch?
Kenneth Green: What remains is the final formation of the Investment Committee, as well as the submission of the program’s final structure to Parliament. This would then go through a procedure of legal amendment before it’s passed. We expect the program will be ready to take its first applicants within about two months.
Appearing on One on One with Prime Minister Skerrit last night, the Prime Minister himself – who hosts a current-events broadcast every Sunday – interviewed the man he’s appointed to implement the program. Green offered further background on the thinking that went into the program’s design.
“The 90 days is not coincidental because the OECD, as you know, sets standards for ‘unfair tax practices’ and 90 days puts us over that threshold,” said Green in a nod to the region’s history of accommodating the OECD’s requests only to later find the goalposts moved again.
Under the program, explained Green, local businesses may request introductions to the Entrepreneur Visa investors, a policy he hopes will enable local business owners to benefit from the investor’s know-how and business acumen.
Watch Green go into detail about the upcoming program for more than an hour in the segment below: