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September 15, 2020

Which Citizenship by Investment Programmes are the most family friendly?

When it comes to securing economic citizenship, high-net-worth individuals are looking increasingly for Citizenship by Investment programmes that allow them to include their families, both immediate and extended. And the CBI Programmes are responding, with many adjusting their dependent criteria to cater to client demand. So which CBI countries are family friendliest?

CBI programme-holding countries are realising increasingly the importance of family reunification for investors, many of whom have large and close-knit families. “As a result, the overarching trend in recent years has been to expand the remit of eligible dependents and implement increasingly-competitive prices for families,” reported the recently released CBI Index 2020.

Recent CBI changes to dependent criteria
Among the CBI Programmes that recently changed their dependent criteria are the world’s two longest-running ones, Saint Kitts and Dominica, both responding in particular to the pandemic, which has prompted families to look for a Plan B, and the popularity of both programmes with HNWIs from the Middle East, many of which have large, extended families.

With this in mind, in July, Saint Kitts reduced temporarily (a limited time offer until December 31, 2020) the cost of citizenship for families. The donation to St Kitts’ Sustainable Growth Fund was reduced by US$45,000 to just US$150,000 for a family of four (the same cost as that for a single applicant). This special offer, which is available only until the end of 2020, seems to be already proving popular within the Middle East region.

According to Migrate World Ltd, a representative for Saint Kitts’ CIP in the Middle East and Africa, “there’s been a notable increased, of around 40% in applicants from the Arab world during the pandemic” says CEO Moe Alhaj, with interested individuals “largely from Lebanon, Iraq, Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia”.

Similarly, Dominica has also recently changed its family offering, though rather than reduce its fees, the country has instead amended the meaning of ‘dependent’ to include a wider range of family members, including grandparents and adopted siblings (in addition to blood siblings).

Furthermore, the Caribbean island of Saint Lucia adapted its CIP recently, making it cheaper for families to secure citizenship, as has Antigua & Barbuda, making family-friendly changes to the fee structure under its University of the West Indies Fund option. While the contribution cost for citizenship remains at US$150,000 for a family of four, the number of family members included in this price has been upped to six, making this a very affordable route to family citizenship.

And reflecting just how important family inclusiveness is for HNWIs when choosing a CBI Programme today, the annual CBI Index added the criteria of Family to its recently released report (CBI Index 2020) in evaluating the currently available CBI Programmes.

“The addition of the Family Pillar to the 2020 edition of the CBI Index reflects the fact that family eligibility is an increasingly significant consideration for prospective investors choosing citizenship by investment,” reports the CBI Index 2020. “The 2020 CBI Index recognises that the rise of increasingly complex family relationships is driving investors to seek programmes that allow for a more diverse range of family members to be included under a primary application.”

Conditions surrounding the inclusion of children
While all CBI programmes on the market allow some dependents to be included in an application, namely the spouse and children under 18, some programmes admit adult children and other extended family members too and different programmes deliver different costs for adding dependents.

So, while some countries, like Jordan and Cambodia only allow children under 18 to be included, other programmes, such as Montenegro and Vanuatu allow children up to the age of 28-30, albeit with strict stipulations.

And while Austria allows only adult children if they are disabled, Vanuatu asks that the adult child (18-25 only) must be residing with, or be dependent on, the applicant or spouse and furthermore must be attending full-time education.

Montenegro is slightly more generous, requiring that the adult child, of any age, must be ‘dependent on the applicant’; while Antigua demands that the adult child (18-28) must be enrolled as a full-time student and must be due to complete more than six months after submission of the application.

Dominica, meanwhile, recently amended its criteria in this regard, allowing adult children who the applicant can show are ‘substantially supported’ by the applicant or spouse, rather than only showing ‘full support’ as was previously the case.

When dependent criteria stretches to siblings, parents and even grandparents
It’s a similar case for parents/grandparents. While Saint Lucia, Bulgaria and Turkey don’t allow grandparents to be included in an application, Malta allows the inclusion of both parents and grandparents of both the applicant and spouse, although they must be over the age of 55 years and proof must be given as to them being supported by the applicant.

Dominica and Grenada allow parents and grandparents whatever their age, while Vanuatu only makes provision for parents if over 50 and only if they are residing with and dependent upon the main applicant or spouse.

According to the CBI Index 2020, Dominica, Granada and Saint Lucia are the only CBI countries to allow siblings, with Grenada requiring siblings to be aged 18 or over; Saint Lucia requiring siblings to be under 18, unmarried, and in receipt of consent from their parent or guardian; and Dominica demanding siblings be 25 or under.

But, what about post-citizenship family additions? While all programmes allow newborn children of economic citizens to become citizens, most programmes don’t allow families to include family additions between the application being sent and the citizenship being granted. Except Dominica and Saint Kitts that is, which both now allow for the addition of children born prior to the granting of citizenship, as well as allowing for post-citizenship spousal additions and the addition of parents and grandparents.

So which CBI Programmes are family friendliest?
With the Caribbean CBI countries competing, in particular, on attracting families to their shores, it’s no surprise to discover that Dominica and Grenada took the top spot in the new Family Pillar in CBI Index 2020’s latest report, both achieving top marks for their broad range of family-friendly provisions, allowing for kids over 18 as well as parents, grandparents, siblings and including in this the family of the main applicant’s spouse.

Grenada, for example, allows a family of four to make a one-off contribution of US$200,000 for citizenship, but they must also make additional Government Fees of US$50,000 per additional family member, and if parents, grandparents or siblings are included, additional fees are added.

Malta, Saint Kitts and Saint Lucia closely followed Grenada and Dominica on the family-friendly front, with Antigua and Barbuda next and Vanuatu after that.

Montenegro, Bulgaria and Turkey are less family-friendly, with neither Bulgaria nor Turkey accepting extended family members and “allowing children only under the exceptional circumstances when said children are rendered dependent as a result of a medical condition”, reports CBI Index 2020.