After hearing about the dozens of variants of Commercial Immigration (i.e. selling residency or even citizenship) Glenn Jones from Bda Sun raised a question in the business session for Government’s presentation on Commercial Immigration. If we have already have the Job Maker’s Act (qualifying executives with significant influence on Bermuda jobs can apply for PRC), and residency permits available to those buying a Tucker’s Town home (or any number of other properties), don’t we already have a form of Commercial Immigration?
Essentially, you have to say yes. Granted, there are nuances, but essentially money is buying residency.
What I found fascinating and eye-opening from the information provided in the session was how ubiquitous and expansive these programs were in other countries. Some were simple; In St. Kitts, invest USD$250,000 into their special development fund and get full citizenship within 3 months with a passport having visa free travel to UK, Canada and the EU. Some more complicated; Singapore; invest USD$2M for 5 years and have a company with at least USD$50M in turnover, get PRC and can apply for citizenship in 2 years. You must renounce all other citizenships however.
While I am a proud Bermudian, I don’t really subscribe to the “selling my birthright” agenda. While I consider myself extremely lucky to have won the birthright-lottery by being born in Bermuda to Bermudian parents, I don’t think that sharing this place with other people who might make it a better place is selling out at all. In fact, we should be making all the ‘second class citizens’ we already have on island (PRC’s, LTR’s, etc.) who pay taxes, have jobs, etc. full citizens. But that’s another post.
With the right objectives and precautions in place, I believe that a Commercial Immigration program could be beneficial to all walks of life in Bermuda. The primary objectives should be to:
- Bring individuals to Bermuda whose initial investment would lead to longer term GDP growth. i.e. I would view moving a company operation here far above investing $500K in a hotel condo.
- Increase job growth in Bermuda, especially in cases where the source of business revenue is in foreign exchange, and especially where Bermudians would be given first dibs.
- Consider only those individuals whose background is spotless and could only add to Bermuda’s reputation.
There are pitfalls to consider, no doubt, but I think the potential benefits trump those.