The 2021 CBI Index analyses countries with ‘operational’ citizenship by investment (CBI) programmes. Such programmes are rooted in law, subject to procedural rules and policies, readily promoted abroad, and have, if longstanding, processed a sizable number of applications over their lifetime.
Countries that lack one or more of these elements fall outside of the remit of the CBI Index. Examples of such countries include Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, and Samoa.
CBI in Bangladesh finds its roots in the Bangladesh Citizenship (Temporary Provisions) Order, with Article 2B(2) giving the government wide-ranging powers to “grant citizenship of Bangladesh to any person who is a citizen of any state of Europe or North America, or of any other state,” and Article 4 stating that “The government may, upon application made to it in this behalf in the manner prescribed, grant citizenship to any person.”
Although documentation on the specific conditions for CBI in Bangladesh is difficult to access, the Central Bank of Bangladesh states that citizenship may be granted to any person who invests in Bangladesh, including in a recognised financial institution, and does not repatriate that investment.
However, CBI in Bangladesh falls short of offering a clear, formal framework and its application volume is non-existent.
Unlike in many of the programmes the CBI Index assesses, there is no single government body tasked solely with administering CBI in Bangladesh. Citizenship is broadly administered by various entities, ranging from the Ministry of Home Affairs, to the police and the Investment Development Authority.
Further, highlighting the country’s unpopularity with investors, only two people who naturalised as citizens of Bangladesh obtained citizenship through the making of an investment between 1988 and 2016. Both were granted citizenship in 1997, more than 20 years ago.
Over in Oceania, in 2016, Papua New Guinea passed amendments to its Constitution and Citizenship Act to make provision for investors to obtain citizenship of the country.
Before being able to apply for citizenship of Papua New Guinea, investors must make a K150,000 (US$42,800) investment in a company or business in Papua New Guinea, and seek a position and work permit from the Department of Industrial Relations. They must then apply for an Entry Permit for Businesspersons/Investors.
Unlike some of the world’s most popular CBI programmes, Papua New Guinea’s rules are aimed at those who already have ties to Papua New Guinea and wish to relocate to the country. This is because citizenship applicants must intend to permanently reside in Papua New Guinea, and either renounce their citizenship of origin or apply to be approved for dual citizenship. The latter option, however, is only available to citizens of Australia, Fiji, Germany, New Zealand, Samoa, the UK, the US and Vanuatu, severely reducing the pool of prospective applicants. Additionally, when making an application for citizenship, investors must submit character references from two Papua New Guinean citizens who have known them for at least two years.
CBI stands as an interesting route to citizenship particularly for those who do not have links to the host country. Because Papua New Guinea insists on those links even for investors, and limits those who can access dual citizenship, it suffers from a lack of industry prominence, despite its low investment threshold.
On 31 January 2017, Samoa’s Citizenship Investment Act and Citizenship Investment Regulations entered into force and Samoa began accepting applications under its newly instated CBI scheme.
Investors are eligible to apply for CBI in Samoa if they intend to make a minimum of WSt4m (US$1.55m) ‘qualifying investment’ within three years of the date the application is granted, and, at the time of application, have a minimum net worth of WSt2.5m (US$971,000).
Applications must be accompanied by an investment plan for review by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour (MCIL). If an application is approved, the investor is granted a permanent resident permit valid for three years. The investor must reside in Samoa for at least 15 days per year during the three-year period and comply with the investment plan to be able to make the final application for citizenship.
Compared to Bangladesh and Papua New Guinea, Samoa offers some of the same features as the more popular CBI jurisdictions. It has, for example, a Citizenship Investment Committee, application fees (albeit very expensive), due diligence fees and provisions to allow for an independent specialised third party to perform background checks.
However, Samoa’s high investment threshold, minimum wealth requirement (a feature shared, but then dropped, by St Lucia), arduous investment plan requirement, and taxing physical presence requirement, have had an overall negative impact on investor interest. According to MCIL’s past three annual reports, Samoa received a total of two CBI applications between the years 2017/2018 and 2019/2020. Of these applications, one was withdrawn by the applicant and the other was placed on hold due to missing documentation and unpaid due diligence fees.