From Laggard to Best-in-Class in Two Years: The Saint Lucia CIU’s Remarkable Comeback

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In a July 2018 interview, the Saint Lucia CIU’s chief executive, Nestor Alfred, conceded that his Unit’s processing times left much to be desired:

“When compared to other islands, the number is a far cry from where it should be,” he lamented, adding that in 2017 and 2018 combined, the program had received 279 applications, only about a third of which had been approved by the 2018 half-year mark. Some applications, he divulged, had been pending for close to nine months.

Alfred, at the time, told local reporters the Saint Lucia CIP was among the region’s least competitive. 

“Guess why?” he asked rhetorically before responding: “Because we are not prepared to issue citizenship to people within 30 or 40 days. Our vetting process may be one of the most rigorous processes you can find in this region.”

In 2020, however, among the Investment Migration Executive Survey’s© international IM-firm respondents, 21% rated the Saint Lucia CIU as the market’s most efficient processing unit, up from 0% the year before.



What changed in the Saint Lucia CIU? Presumably, it didn’t relax vetting standards, so why do these no longer have a decelerating effect on the Unit’s work? We decided to ask Nestor Alfred himself, who, in our Investment Migration After COVID report, gave a full account of how he and his team were able to turn the processing unit around in under two years.

Nestor Alfred is proud to have his CIU named “most efficient processing unit” in this year’s Investment Migration Executive Survey.

Alfred also revealed that he’s planning an overhaul of the Saint Lucia CIP’s real estate framework, as well as a new marketing agreement with one of the program’s promoters, in the coming months:

“In regard to policy, we will be doing some further strengthening of the real estate framework – there needs to be a bit more accountability. We are also looking at a collaboration with one of our promoters to launch a product to help make the programme more attractive.” 

In the interview, Alfred went into details about:

  • How the CIU was able to “trim away” steps that were not absolutely necessary, without sacrificing the due diligence quality;
  • How the CIU brought average processing times down from more than half a year to just 56 days;
  • Why a CIU should focus on the parts of the process it can influence, and work to reduce the delays occasioned by the steps handled by outside partners; and
  • How use of the CIU’s online portal drove massive increases in productivity.

In the Investment Migration After COVID report, you can read the full interview with Nestor Alfred, see the complete results of the 2021 Investment Migration Executive Survey, get an overview of which programs have been the relative winners and losers of the pandemic year, and learn how dozens of the leading executives in the investment migration market believe the market has, and will, change as a consequence of COVID.

The report attempts to identify the most consequential transformations that have taken place in the investment migration market over the last year, to prognosticate as to which marks 2020 will leave on the market in the long run, and to outline how industry professionals can prosper in the new investment migration market.

Investment Migration After COVID – Trends and Outlook 2021

Investment Migration After COVID tells the story of what we expected to happen after the pandemic, compares that to what happened, and highlights what dozens of leading investment migration executives anticipate will change in the years ahead.

  • Findings of the April 2021 Investment Migration Executive Survey©
    • How pandemic-related government restrictions have affected the service deliverability;
    • How the pandemic has affected demand;
    • Which source markets are growing the fastest;
    • How client’s preferences have changed as a consequence of the pandemic,
    • In which regions IM companies are planning to open new offices;
    • Which programs have risen and fallen the most in popularity over the last year;
    • Which programs were the best-sellers in the last year, and which are expected to be the best-sellers in the next year; and
    • Which application processing units were the most efficient in 2020.
    • How companies have adapted to new work habits necessitated by the pandemic, such as working remotely, reducing travel and in-person event attendance, and the degree to which such changes are likely to persist in the long term.
  • A review of the April 2020 COVID Market Impact Survey©
    • How IM executives expected the pandemic to impact demand compared to what actually happened;
    • How demand has changed between April 2020 and April 2021; and
    • What IM executives expected to happen with border restrictions compared to what actually happened.
  • An interview with Nestor Alfred of the Saint Lucia CIU
    • How did the Unit change its policies to go from being a laggard to being the most efficient CIU, according to IM executives?
  • The mega-trends driving the transformation of the IM market after COVID
    • The West wakes up to investment migration;
    • Crypto-millionaires: The new new rich;
    • The race to digitize and remote-enable program processing;
    • Beyond visa-free travel;
  • How major investment migration programs performed in 2020
    • The winners and losers of the pandemic.
  • The biggest differences between the IM market before and after COVID, according to industry leaders
    • Stefan Kraus, COO of Henley & Partners;
    • Jean-François Harvey, Global Managing Director of Harvey Law Group;
    • Eric G. Major, CEO of Latitude;
    • Mohammed Asaria, Founder of Range Developments;
    • Micha-Rose Emmett, CEO of CS Global Partners;
    • Nicholas Stevens, Managing Director of NTL Trust;
    • David Lesperance, Managing Partner of Lesperance & Associates;
    • Paul Williams, CEO of La Vida Europe; and
    • Sam Bayat, Founder of Bayat Legal Services.


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Christian Henrik Nesheim AdministratorKeymaster

Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 14 years in the United States, China, and Spain. 

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