Antigua and Barbuda is the latest country to offer a visa deal in return for property investment.
Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer officially launched the new Citizenship by Investment Programme last Thursday, offering investors the chance to receive an Antigua passport and become a citizen of Antigua.
Eligible investments include a real estate investment of $400,000; a business investment of at least $1.5 million; or a $250,000 contribution to Antigua's National Development Fund.
The new program is the latest example of visa deals offered by countries around the world as they compete for investors. Other countries offering visas for investments include Dominica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Portugal, Cypress, Greece, and more recently Spain, where a visa bill passed the Spanish parliament last month. The U.S. offers a path to a visa through the EB-5 visa program.
"The singular goal of the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship by Investment Programme is to generate investments and jobs for Antiguans and Barbudans and to put Antigua and Barbuda on the road to sustainable growth and development,"
Mr. Spencer said at the launch of the program.
Antigua's new visa program comes two years after the Citizenship by Investment Task Force began examining viable options. But some criticized the idea as "selling passports."
In an effort to safeguard the country's image and the value of the passport, the new program will not be an open door for all, the Prime Minister said. The administration is "resolute that the CIP program should in no way jeopardize the integrity of the national passport," Mr. Spencer said.
"As such, we have structured the CIP to meet the most incisive scrutiny and to deliver the most rigorous review of the applications received by the Citizenship by Investment Unit," he said.
Following the lead of countries around the world, Antigua sees the residency program as one of the few options available to lure investors.
"The current climate in which we live where we have to contend with the reality of economic slowdown, and the virtual disappearance of traditional funding sources, this program remains one of the most viable options for development," Mr. Spencer said.