Those applying for a CIP know it involves a substantial fee upfront and, also, that the fee will increase when including a spouse and other family members. But few applicants realize that additional fees may become applicable in the future, for example when they have children after the rest of the family has already received citizenship. In these cases, further outlays may apply if they wish to extend citizenship to the newborn as well.
The cost of including a spouse and children are generally well known among applicants, and most CIPs publish the fee structure on their official websites. But the price of including children born post hoc – that is, the cost of extending the family’s citizenship to a newborn after everyone else have their passports – is typically not a matter of common knowledge.
Even when applicants are aware of such fees, they often misapprehend them as applying only to existing children not included in the original application.
Yet, most CIP nations stipulate a fee, not only for current children not previously included, but also on yet-to-be-born dependents. Consequently, a CIP citizen who spends hundreds of thousands today in acquiring citizenship for his family will often need to keep thousands more in reserve should new family members come along at a later date. Little Johnny can’t be the only one limited to non-Schengen travel.
Typical of CIPs, ‘future child rules’ are not uniform across jurisdictions. A time limit exists in some (after a CIP applicant obtains citizenship, any new children are exempt from additional fees for a number of years thereafter) while, in others, no such “grace period” applies.
The Caribbean, the cradle of CIPs, is the epicenter of this generational issue. We’ll outline below the Caribbean spectrum of costs for adding newborn children to CIP applications after the fact.
It’s sometimes cheaper to wait than to ovulate
In Saint Lucia, any additional child spurs a fee of US$25,000 if they are under 16 years of age. If they’re over 16, the charge is a smaller but still substantial US$5,000, with a non-refundable processing fee of US$1,000 on top.
In Grenada, additional fees apply to all children – and even grandchildren – of the CIP citizen. If an additional dependent – like a child born to the CIP citizen – sees the light of day within 12 months of the initial application, authorities reopen the case and add the dependent at an additional cost of USD$25,000.
Subsequent to the 12 months, additional dependents require new applications, this time for citizenship-by-descent. The fees for this vary, especially when a migration agent handles the matter, but typically they will not exceed US$10,000 per application.
In Dominica, there is a real clash between love and money. If the applicant adds the child in their application, they must pay an additional USD$25,000 for the child. If the child is born after the CIP applicant becomes a citizen, the cost plummets to USD$500.
In Saint Kitts & Nevis, the inclusion of additional dependents costs US$10,000 per head, while Antigua & Barbuda applies a fee of US$75,000 for a new spouse or parent, and 25,000 for minors. No mention is made on their respective websites as to whether an existing application may be reopened or whether a separate one is required.
Such stark differences in price within and between CIP countries should and will have a bearing on investors’ timing of their applications, as well as their choice of otherwise comparable programs.
The ius soli workaround
In each of the five Caribbean CIP countries, applicants have the opportunity to rely on ius soli to obviate the cost of including the newborn in the application. The mother can travel to the island a few months before her due date, give birth, and give the child an automatic birthright to citizenship.
But as long as the parents are taking advantage of ius soli, there are more attractive alternatives, like birthright citizenship in Canada, the US (unless you mind a lifetime of subjection to the IRS, of course), or Chile.
In any case, using the ius soli strategy may come at an opportunity cost, one that each family will need to consider according to their particular circumstances. The mother will have to stay for months outside her home country, away from the warm bosom of friends and family. She may have to give birth in a medical environment where neonatal care isn’t of the standard she’d expected. She may have to forego professional income.
Succeeding at succession
These additional costs are unlikely to become a deciding factor for many CIP applicants, especially those of very high net worth. But far from every applicant will consider an additional $25,000 negligible.
For those to whom a CIP is more of a need than a want and who are dipping into their assets to a substantial degree to afford it, knowledge of additional future fees could mean the difference between proceeding with an application and holding back for a year or two, until their new child is born.
That these fees exist but remain little-discussed is not only an issue for future applicants, but also for the nations that charge these costs. More importantly, it is a matter requiring the urgent attention of CIP-advisors.
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.