Investors Can Now ‘Buy’ Vanuatu Citizenship For $10,000

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Immigration regulations amended to attract foreign investment

By Jonas Cullwick

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, August 19, 2013) – Foreign investors will not have to wait 10 years to be Vanuatu citizens because now they can buy it just for US$10,000 (Vt963, 567 according to yesterday’s exchange rate). Minister of Internal Affairs Patrick Crowby amended the Immigration Visa Regulation Order No.180 of 2011 on Tuesday, August 13 and introduced the Road Map of the Capital Investment Immigration Plan (CIIP).

Crowby consequently alluded the potential for mutual benefit to be derived from implementing plans to attract foreign capital investment in exchange for the right to be granted residence and/or citizenship. This resulted in the adoption of the CIIP. This was gazetted as, "Immigration Visa Regulation (Amendment) Order No.115 of 2013" under the Immigration Act No.17 of 2010 on August 14, 2013.

Under Vanuatu laws previously a foreigner may only apply for Vanuatu citizenship after residing in Vanuatu for 10 years.

[PIR editor’s note: Radio New Zealand International reported that police have recently arrested several government officials on illegally granting citizenship. Police Chief Inspector George Toomey said "the suspects have been selling Vanuatu citizenship at a low price and ignored the law that requires ten years’ residence for a foreigner to become a citizen."]

With the adoption of the CIIP, that has been published in the Official Gazette on August 14, investors that comply with the conditions of the plan may enjoy the exclusive privilege of being granted citizenship following a significantly reduced period of residence.

Upon application and compliance with the CIIP criteria and completion of diligence investigation an investor applicant, his/her spouse and dependents under 21 years of age will be granted the right to enter and reside in Vanuatu for seven years (renewability subject to CIIP compliance conditions and fees).

And the right to be granted citizenship of Vanuatu on (I) acquiring and complying with the conditions of a CIIP residence permit for two years from its grant; and (II) to be granted citizenship of Vanuatu upon holding and complying with the conditions of a CIIP residence permit for nine months.

To qualify for the above benefits the applicant must invest US$260,000 (payable by installments), pay: (I) US$20,000 marketing fee to the Vanuatu Registry Services Ltd (II) pay US$5,000 for residence permit (III) pay US$3,000 processing fee to the Vanuatu Financial Services Commission (VFSC), (IV) US$2,000 processing fee to the Vanuatu Investment Promotion Authority (VIPA) and (V) US$10,000 for Vanuatu citizenship.

In addition to the expedient fee, residence, Vanuatu International Company inclusion, oath of allegiance and installment payments; the Application of Investment is (a) Government Bonds-25% of the seven-year-zero coupon bonds issued by the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu and (b) Bank Deposit-25% of the investment sum will be deposited with either the National Bank of Vanuatu or Vantu Bank Ltd for seven years from the date of the granting of residence permit.

At this stage Daily Post is not aware where Vantu Bank Ltd is located.

While the category of citizenship granted to applicants is full citizenship, not economic citizenship or any other category different from that enjoyed by the native-born citizens, there are limitations to the privileges of citizenship which may not be exercised until the new citizen has been ordinarily resident in Vanuatu for 10 years.

Privileges hinged on the 10 years residence are: the right to vote, the right to stand for election in the Vanuatu government, the right to work for public service, the right to serve the Vanuatu Police Force, the right to Vanuatu diplomat or consular protection when in any other country of which the citizen is a national and the right for a child born outside Vanuatu to inherit Vanuatu citizenship.

The timetable of the Vanuatu Government in terms of implementation is to: (I) Gazette any necessary instrument to Immigration Visa Regulation (Amendment) Order No.128 of 2012 and the International Companies Order No.142 of 2012 by July 15, 2013 (II) Implement acceptance of applications commencing August 15, 2013 (III) Amend Constitution to permit Vanuatu citizens to be, become and remain citizens of other countries and nationalities by December 31,2013 and (IV) enact other necessary amendments to the Citizenship Act, the Passports Act, the Immigration Act and other consequential statutory provisions by December 31,2013.

Meanwhile the Government appointed the Vanuatu Registry Services Ltd (VRS) as its exclusive distributor in November, 2012.

The Board of Directors of CIIF comprises of VRS representatives, the managers of the CIIP marketing team representing investors and the Vanuatu government. CIIF will issue a prospectus for the placement of its preferences shares to be registered with VFSC.

Accordingly Minister Crowby, amended the Immigration Visa Regulation Order No.180 of 2011.

Under the stipulated schedule subclauses of the said Act, 12 (4A), (4B) and (4C) were repealed and substituted.

The first (4A) if a foreigner under the Capital Investment Immigration Plan (CIIP), who wishes to benefit from the Road Map as set out in schedule 2, the criteria are the applicant must:

The development comes on the heels of the Vanuatu Government’s biggest infrastructure bid since independence-the much documented new international airport vision.

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