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(PRESS RELEASE) — Saint Lucia has improved its passport power ranking in the Henley Passport Index, with citizens enjoying visa-free/visa-on-arrival access to 145 countries.
In a further display of regional passport power, Saint Lucia now sits in 6th place regionally and 31st globally, moving up two spots. This marks a new high for Saint Lucia, which moved up its ranking seven spots since 2008.
Powerful passports attract high-end candidates willing to develop the socio-economic structure of a country. This means more quality employment across all of society, from lawyers to gardeners, from architects to construction workers. It can also create enhanced infrastructure and sound business linkages for the people.
The need for greater visa-free access to promising destinations has grown steadily with the increase of global economies. Families and individuals want to transcend the constraints imposed on them by their country of origin and access business, financial, career, and lifestyle opportunities on a global scale.
Commenting on the achievement, Mark Maragh, managing director of Henley & Partners Saint Lucia, says: “A powerful passport or a passport which steadily increases its global ranking is always a more attractive passport. People have become more transnational than ever before and want to explore other markets for business, lifestyle or work. The receiving destination, through the Citizenship by Investment Programme, benefits as they now have the opportunity to expand its global trade market, benefit nationally through the National Economic Fund, business investments, government bonds and through real estate. I am pleased that Saint Lucia’s passport continues to climb on the global stage; it’s evident that Saint Lucia is a premium destination.”
Neighbouring territories, Grenada ranked 8th regionally and 33rd globally with access to 143 countries; Saint Kitts & Nevis ranked 3rd regionally and 27th globally with access to 151 countries, while Antigua & Barbuda ranked 4th regionally and 28th globally with access to 150 countries
Dr. Christian H. Kälin, group chairman of Henley & Partners and the inventor of the Passport Index concept, says this latest ranking shows that despite rising isolationist sentiment in some parts of the world, many countries remain committed to collaboration.
“The general spread of open-door policies has the potential to contribute billions to the global economy, as well as create significant employment opportunities around the world. South Korea and the United Arab Emirates’ recent ascent in the rankings are further examples of what happens when countries take a proactive foreign affairs approach, an attitude which significantly benefits their citizens as well as the international community.”
For both economic and personal reasons, migration is an appealing prospect for some Caribbean citizens with intra-Caribbean and international migration remaining pronounced features of Caribbean migration patterns. An important example of this form of migration involves the movement of Cuban doctors and nurses to Anglophone Caribbean states, where they work in hospitals in these countries. Cuba–Caribbean health agreements support intra-Caribbean labor force migration by minimizing the shortage of healthcare professionals in the region.
Demographic factors and developed countries’ policies have facilitated the migration of citizens from the Caribbean region.
Short-stay international migration continues to be a major trend among residents of Caribbean countries. Some Jamaicans have traveled to the US and Canada on these countries’ guest worker schemes. These migrants obtain seasonal employment in the US and Canada as hotel and agricultural workers.
Similarly, university students from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and Barbados have also obtained summer employment in the US through work and study programs, where their services are utilized in the food industry. The UK and the US have also provided scholarship opportunities to students from the English-speaking Caribbean through the UK Commonwealth, Chevening, and Fulbright scholarship programs.
Another trend in the region is that of return migration. Short-stay migrants normally return to their countries once their seasonal employment or scholarships end.
The 2019 outlook for the Caribbean region is that migration in all its forms is likely to continue. Intra-Caribbean and international short-stay migration will probably remain stable, but the resettlement of retirees through return migration may be hampered by economic and safety concerns in the region.
Countries continue to embrace mutually beneficial migration
Asian countries’ continued dominance of the Henley Passport Index reflects the extraordinary effect that international mobility and migration has had on the region. The full scope of this impact is explored in the recently launched 2019 edition of the Henley Passport Index and Global Mobility Report – a unique publication that offers cutting-edge analysis and commentary from leading scholars and professional experts on the latest trends shaping international and regional mobility patterns today.
Commenting in the report, Dr. Parag Khanna, the founder and managing partner of FutureMap in Singapore, notes: “China’s Thousand Talents scheme, Thailand’s entrepreneur visa, and similar initiatives from the UAE to Singapore show many states sustaining a high comfort level with mutually beneficial economic migration.”
China’s steady ascent up the rankings over the past few years is a clear demonstration of this. In 2017, the country was ranked 85th, with citizens able to access just 51 destinations. Going into 2019, China sits in 69th place, with its nationals now able to access 74 countries and territories around the world.
Commenting in the report, Froilan Malit, an associate at the Gulf Labour Markets, Migration, and Population (GLMM) program and a Fellow at Centre International de Formation des Autorités et Leaders (CIFAL), says: “Overall, international migration has not only helped stabilize economic growth in Asia Pacific but enabled many labor-sending South and Southeast Asian countries to sustain strong economic growth, even in times of crisis.”
As is clear from the United Arab Emirates’ continued upward trajectory, the Middle Eastern powerhouse has taken a similar approach to Asian high performers. Now holding top spot in the region at 22nd place globally on the Henley-IATA index, with its citizens able to access 164 destinations around the globe, the nation recently signed agreements with a number of countries, including Mexico, Japan, and Sierra Leone. Commenting on the UAE’s recent partnerships with African nations, Ryan Cummings, Director of Signal Risk, says: “The United Arab Emirates has demonstrated a penchant for reciprocating visa deregulation as the country aims to attract diverse skill-sets and increase the power of its own passport.”
Cummings suggests that the African continent would also benefit from this more expansive approach: “Africa continues to lag behind the rest of the world. That said, it is certainly moving in the right direction in terms of enhancing visa openness. Over the past year, several African countries – notably Angola, Ethiopia, Kenya, Namibia and Senegal – relaxed visa requirements, with the intention of enhancing trade, co-operation, and security.”
Looking ahead: Brexit, the US, and changing alliances
The 2019 Henley Passport Index and Global Mobility Report offers fascinating insight into what the coming year might hold in terms of visa freedom and travel access. Experts anticipate that neither the US nor EU member states are in line to substantially revise their current visa policies, whereas countries in other parts of Europe (such as citizenship-by-investment newcomers Moldova and Montenegro), as well as those in Asia and the Middle East, look set to continue seeking visa-waiver agreements with diplomatic allies.
A question mark remains over the ultimate impact of Brexit. While the deal hangs in the balance, it is difficult to anticipate what the ultimate ramifications will be for EU and UK citizens, as well as for EU and UK trade and cooperation.
Commenting in the report on the potential impact of Britain’s changing relationship with the EU, Simone Bertoli, professor of economics at Université Clermont Auvergne (CERDI) in France and a Research Fellow at the Institute of Labor Economics in Germany, says: “London’s finance sector could lose a substantial part of its appeal, and other European countries (notably, France, Germany, and Ireland) could decide to strengthen policy measures to attract financial sector workers.”
Finally, insights from the report show that the ever-growing trend towards visa-openness is unlikely to slow down. Overall, 2019 looks set to hold some surprises in the travel freedom space as more countries and citizens embrace the benefits of global mobility.
Citizenship-by-investment countries consolidate their respective positions
As in 2018, countries with citizenship-by-investment (CBI) programs continue to hold their strong positions. Malta, for instance, sits in 9th spot, with access to 182 destinations around the world. St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda hold 27th and 28th spot respectively, while Moldova remains in a strong position at 46th place, with citizens able to access 122 countries. A recent agreement signed between St. Kitts and Nevis and Belarus, due to come into effect in the coming months, will further strengthen the St. Kitts and Nevis passport, and enhance the travel freedom of its citizens.
Dr. Juerg Steffen, the CEO of Henley & Partners, says: “The enduring appeal of investment migration programs shows that more and more people are embracing alternative citizenship as the best way to access previously unimagined opportunities and improve their passport power. Additionally, it is no surprise that countries are increasingly looking to launch CBI programs, which attract talented individuals and bring enormous economic and societal benefits.”