Removal of waiting period for citizenship by marriage has implications for the Citizenship by Investment Programme

Basseterre, St Kitts, May 26, 2019 – Almost 200 persons descended on the Ministry of National Security Wednesday morning “flocking to get their papers filled out and submitted to get their St Kitts and Nevis citizenship by marriage, former government minister Dwyer Astaphan has disclosed.
Astaphan, who once held the post of National Security warned that the removal by the Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government of the three-year waiting period before citizenship can be granted to non-nationals marrying a St Kitts and Nevis national, could not only result in financial transactions or marriages of convenience, but has implications for other OECS countries as well as the Citizenship by Investment Programme.
“In my opinion, if you get married, you should not automatically get residence and a work permit. Why, because the validity of the marriage – the bonafides of the two parties – should be under investigation the minute the marriage certificate is presented. If they are under investigation, you cannot give the person a work permit and residence and you are not sure if it is a fake marriage or a marriage of convenience, but they do get it. In my opinion, they could get permission to stay while the investigations are underway without permission to work, Astaphan told Douglas Wattley, host of The Rebuttal on Kyss 102.5 FM.
Astaphan added that once the documents are in order, then citizenship can be granted.
He is of the view that “persons have gamed the system and now see it as a wide open door for them to jump in.”
“That is why this morning down between the Ministry of National Security and The Circus, they had almost 200 people flocking to get their papers filled out and submitted to get their citizenship by marriage,” said Astaphan, who disclosed that he has seen and has in his possession “a number of marriage certificates, having spoken to the parties in the marriage and knowing full well that they are not really living together as man and wife.”
“St Kitts is small and you can find out where each party lives and you can get electricity and water bills they get and you can get sufficient evidence to show that they are not living as man and wife.”
Astaphan said the removal of the three year waiting period “is partly intended to score political points.”
He said people will continue to game the system and break the law but if it is pursued without vigorous and proactive vigilance, then persons will continue to game the system which means they will be able to register to vote, although they have broken the law.
Astaphan said there are implications for other countries in the OECS because all citizens of St Kitts and Nevis can travel and reside.
He pointed out that under the Citizenship by Investment Programme persons can gain citizenship but with the removal of the three year waiting period a potential investor instead of purchasing a condo for US$400,000 or US$200,000 can pay a national US$5,000 to get married.
“You can become a citizen for US$10,000 and would not have to spend all that money. It could have an impact on the CBI programme if the measure is not properly done,” said Astaphan.

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