UK to review access for Caribbean CBI programs

UK to review access for Caribbean CBI programs

The EU and the US have become increasingly wary of the security risks associated with the Caribbean CBI programs. Now, the UK has also expressed its concerns.

During a recent conference in Washington DC, the UK security minister, Tom Tugendhat, stated that investigations will be carried out on CBI programs that provide entry to the UK for individuals with questionable backgrounds or potential criminal ties.

This news comes one year after the Tier 1 Investor Visa was suspended by the UK government shortly before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. The same concerns raised by Tugendhat were cited as the reason for the visa’s suspension.

Tugendhat remarked at the conference, “We found that the Tier 1 Investor Visa was too vulnerable to abuse, and so we had to end it. We are currently reviewing our existing visa process to ensure that no loopholes remain.”

He added, “Regrettably, this means that we must examine other jurisdictions that have visa waivers with the UK and are effectively providing a loophole. We cannot have visa waivers with economies that have backdoors; it simply does not work.”

It is suggested that the minister is specifically referring to Caribbean countries such as Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, and Dominica, which have visa-free access to the UK and offer popular CBI programs. Dominica, for example, provides citizenship in as little as three to four months for as little as $100,000 plus fees.

However, the review is not limited to Caribbean programs. The UK government’s investigation will also scrutinize CBI programs in Pacific and Central American countries.

Mr. Tugendhat’s comments demonstrate the UK’s commitment to ensuring the security of its borders by examining potential loopholes that may enable questionable individuals to gain entry.

Paraguay’s CBI program may also come under scrutiny from the UK. The country’s passport allows visa-free access to the UK, and its CBI program is one of the cheapest options available, costing just $70,000. However, Paraguay’s route to citizenship takes up to three years, which is similar to Brazil’s program. Brazil also offers visa-free access to the UK and provides citizenship within three years for a $200,000 investment.

The UK’s move to investigate CBI programs is part of its effort to combat illicit finance and circumvention of sanctions by wealthy Russians, according to media reports. During his visit to the US, Tugendhat met with senior officials from the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the FBI to discuss collaborating on pushing back against “illicit finance from sanctioned Russians as they become more adept at evading international restrictions,” the media reports.

This development occurred shortly before the US expressed the same concerns with five Caribbean nations, namely Antigua & Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Lucia, and St. Kitts and Nevis. The prime ministers of these nations held a roundtable discussion with Anna Morris, the US deputy assistant secretary of treasury for global affairs, during which they collectively agreed to six CBI principles prioritizing the banning of Russians from obtaining their citizenships.

These principles, which were labeled as a ‘risk management framework,’ also included conducting extra checks and personal interviews with applicants, rejecting applicants who had been denied in other programs, and working collaboratively to retrieve revoked passports.

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