The STAR Businessweek
Last week the United States Embassy, based in Bridgetown, Barbados, made an important and much-welcomed announcement that Saint Lucians may now be eligible for waivers on the interview requirement element of their US visa renewal process. Up until now, Saint Lucians were required to physically travel to Barbados, footing the bill of airfare and accommodations, in order to conduct the majority—if not all—of their consular affairs with their American counterparts. Surely, immigration management technology like the 10-fingerprint scan and other biometric data collection and management protocols have helped contribute to the relaxation of the in-person interview, but this editor suspects there’s a bit more at play here than meets the eye. Stated in the associated press release by the US Embassy is a specific group of Saint Lucians who will not be eligible for the waiver—Saint Lucian economic citizens, otherwise known as Citizenship by Investment beneficiaries. It would seem that despite having their very own immigration investment scheme in the United States—marketed heavily by Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner as incentives for making real estate investments with the Trump Organisation—America doesn’t seem too welcoming of the Caribbean’s newest flock of Johnny Come Latelys. Of course, the communique was a little more, shall we say, diplomatic. The subtle nature of the soft rebuff may indeed be the reason why the astute Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, Gaston Browne, has been left wondering (aloud in the media, of course) why the exemption was not extended to the twin-island state and its citizens. It couldn’t possibly be the perception held by Canada, the US, and the EU that Antigua’s CIP epitomizes the wild, wild West Indies of economic citizenship. Or that America is finally wising up to the surreptitious nature of China’s interest in our region. Watch this space, the water isn’t even frothy yet.
Also, be sure to read our lead story this week Crowdfunding the Caribbean and how this alternative financing approach can help entrepreneurs bypass many of the obstacles to traditional financing. Saint Lucia is a specific focal point of the research in this article so I highly recommend our readers check it out. One startling statistic (well, startling to anyone who hasn’t already banked in the Caribbean) is that 60% of Saint Lucians don’t have a bank account. Read more starting on page 1!
It’s Nothing Personal. It’s Business.
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