Kiribati: Whether foreigners can obtain passports through the Investor Passport Program; whether this program gives residence or citizenship rights; if applicable, the circumstances leading to the loss of these rights; the significance of the letters before the status and number on the Kiribati passport (1997-2010)
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Publication Date||10 January 2011|
|Citation / Document Symbol||KIR103658.FE|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Kiribati: Whether foreigners can obtain passports through the Investor Passport Program; whether this program gives residence or citizenship rights; if applicable, the circumstances leading to the loss of these rights; the significance of the letters before the status and number on the Kiribati passport (1997-2010), 10 January 2011, KIR103658.FE, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e02e0ba2.html [accessed 3 June 2015]|
In its December 19, 2001 issue, the Canada Gazette stated that the government of Kiribati had introduced the Investor Passport Program in 1995 to attract business ventures and capital investment (Canada 19 Dec. 2001, 2811).
Investor passport application
According to the 1979 Passports Act, which was amended in 1996,
A "foreign investor" [. . .] means a person who the Minister [. . .] certifies in the prescribed form, is of good character and respects the laws, customs and traditions of Kiribati and has paid fifteen thousand US dollars (US$15,000) to, and executed a promissory note in the sum of five thousand US dollars (US$5,000) in favour of, the Republic, or if higher amounts are prescribed by regulations made by the Beretitenti [President] [. . .] those higher amounts (Kiribati 1979, s. 3).
Foreign investors had to file their passport application with a Passport Officer (ibid., s. 4. (1)(b)). Moreover, the holder of an investor passport, within a period of 14 days before the expiration of the period of 12 months from the date of issue of the investor passport and after that period such other period of time as may be prescribed, was required to return to and visit South Tarawa, present himself in person and "report to the Minister or other immigration officer as may be authorised by the Minister for the purpose of this section on the progress so far of the foreign investor programme" (ibid., s. 4A).
According to the same Passports Act, an investor passport could be withdrawn or cancelled if the holder of the passport is no longer certified as a foreign investor (Kiribati 1979, s. 4. (2)(c)). Detailed information on the circumstances that would lead to the loss of an investor passport could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
Residence and citizenship rights
An investor passport gave its holder the right to remain in Kiribati for five years from the date of issue (Kiribati 1979, s. 3). It was renewable, but the number of times it could be renewed is not specified (ibid., s. 5).
According to the Canada Gazette, the Investor Passport Program did not provide Kiribati citizenship, and residence in Kiribati, either before or after the process, is not a requirement for passport issuance neither is it encouraged (Canada 19 Dec. 2001, 2811).
A document published by Immigration New Zealand states that Kiribati investor passports "neither confirm the nationality of the passport holder nor clarify the status of the passport holder" (N.Z. 15 Dec. 2006). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
End of the Investor Passport Program
Another amendment made to the Passports Act in 2004 resulted in the repeal of the Investor Passport Program (Kiribati 2004, s. 2-5). For its part, in a report on Kiribati published in 2005, Freedom House confirmed that the government of Kiribati's 2004 decision to suspend the issuance of investor passports was made "in response to pressure from donor countries to improve immigration control following reports of fake passports and illegal passport sales" (Freedom House 2005).
Information on the significance of the letters before the status and number on the Kiribati passport could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Canada. 19 December 2001. Canada Gazette. Part II. Vol. 135, No. 26.
Freedom House. 2005. "Kiribati". Freedom in the World 2005. <<http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&year=2005&country=6766> [Accessed: 21 Dec. 2010]
Kiribati. 2004. An Act to Amend the Passport Act (Revised Edition 1996).
_____. 1979 (amended in 1996). Passport Act. (United Nations - Refworld)
New Zealand (N.Z.). 15 December 2006. Immigration New Zealand. "Unacceptable Travel Documents". Operational Manual.
Additional Sources Consulted
Oral sources: Attempts to contact representatives from the Republic of Kiribati's department of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, the Republic of Kiribati's consulates general in Auckland, Brussels, Hamburg, Honolulu, New South Wales, Sydney and Tokyo, and the Chinese embassy in Tarawa were unsuccessful.
Internet sites, including: Asian Development Bank (ADB), Australia - Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Edmund Rice Centre (ERC), United States - Department of State, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Forced Migration Online (FMO), United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), Keesing Reference Systems, Kiribati National Statistics Office, Kiribati National Tourism Office, Meiji Gakuin University, Migration Policy Institute (MPI), United Nations - Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, International Organization for Migration (IOM), Pacific Business Online (PBO), Pacific Islands Legal Information Institute (PacLII), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Radio France internationale (RFI), United Kingdom - Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), Rule of Law in Armed Conflicts Project (RULAC Project), The Social Contract Press.