The European Union has raised concerns over trade in golden passports after five Caribbean countries sold citizenships to 88,000 persons from Nigeria, Iran, Russia, and China.
The bloc is seeking to review its visa scheme in countries offering investor citizenship schemes to countries with a corruption perception and poor human rights records.
The EU said the move has become essential to curtail security risks to member states.
Golden passports grant applicants visa-free access to the EU
Citizen-by-investment programmes, also known as golden passports, are run mainly through third countries with visa-free access to the EU.
The scheme gives citizenship rights based on investments or against a flat fee, with low or no residence requirements, giving interested new nationals visa-free access to EU countries.
Passport sales in the Caribbean countries of Dominica ballooned after 2015, when some citizens of several island countries received permission to travel to most EU member states for 90 days without a visa.
Indiscriminate golden passport issuance increases the possibility of terrorism financing
The EU stated in a report published on Wednesday, October 18, 2023, that the countries offering golden passports subject applicants to weak security checks.
The report added that such programmes allow beneficiaries to circumvent the regular Schengen visa procedure and thorough assessment of a person’s migratory and security risks it takes, including possible evasion of measures to stop money laundering and terrorism financing.
The bloc cited Dominica, which has given about 34,500 passports. The number exceeds more than four times the total number previously disclosed by the country’s government.
Another country is St Kitts and Nevis, which has a population of 48,000 and has issued 36,700 golden passports.
Top Caribbean countries offering citizen-by-investments
According to the EU report, visa-free access to the EU shouldn’t be used as a commercial commodity to be sold and bought.
The Caribbean states offering citizenship-by-investment include Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia.
These countries allow applicants the opportunity to change their identity after getting citizenship.
Per the EU report, the nationalities with the highest number of recipients of the golden passports are China, Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Nigeria, and Libya.
The EU stated the move to stop the countries from issuing visa-free access to these countries is part of the measures to fight organized crime and corruption.