Bangladesh stands as the globe's most densely populated country, home to a populace exceeding 172 million. It holds the eighth position among the world's most populous nations, yet ranks 92nd in terms of territorial size. The passport issued by the People’s Republic of Bangladesh is often regarded as having limited global access: its holders enjoy unrestricted entry to only 17 countries, while another 32 nations offer visa-on-arrival privileges; meanwhile, travelling to 149 countries necessitates obtaining a visa in advance. Notwithstanding these limitations, Bangladesh does offer avenues for granting citizenship to foreign nationals through the process of naturalisation.
Bangladeshi Nationality Law
Bangladesh achieved its independence relatively recently. Prior to 1947, it existed as a part of British India, alongside Pakistan, and was subject to the laws of the United Kingdom. Subsequently, following the withdrawal of British colonial rule, it became a constituent of Pakistan, eventually attaining full independence in 1971.
Following the creation of the new state, Bangladesh granted citizenship to those people who permanently resided in the territories that became part of the country on the 25th of March, 1971.
Currently, the Bangladeshi nationality law is based on the Pakistan Citizenship Act, 1951, which was later amended by a number of legislative measures passed by the government of the independent republic (Citizenship Order, 1972 and Citizenship Rules, 1978).
Dhaka. Photo: Salman Preeom (Unsplash)
Citizenship by Descent
In accordance with the Citizenship Act of 1951, Bangladeshi citizenship can be conferred through jus sanguinis, or the right of blood. This principle dictates that citizenship can be obtained based on ancestral lineage, irrespective of the place of birth. As a result, offspring of Bangladeshi citizens possess the eligibility to seek the republic's passport, even if they were born overseas. Notably, the legitimacy of birth holds no significance in this context: a child born out of wedlock to a female Bangladeshi citizen, or when the father's identity is undisclosed, retains the right to acquire citizenship.
Simultaneously, a child born in Bangladesh to two foreign parents does not meet the criteria for obtaining the nation's passport.
Citizenship by the Right of Birth within the Territory
Bangladeshi legislation gives preference to the principle of "right of blood," although the concept of "right of soil," legally referred to as jus soli, is occasionally invoked as well. This occurs in situations where the identity or nationality of a child's parents, born within the country, remains unknown.
Nevertheless, this provision does not extend to children born to "enemy aliens," individuals residing without legal authorization in Bangladesh, or refugees. The term "enemy aliens" encompasses individuals who either do not acknowledge or actively reject the sovereignty, territorial integrity, and independence of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. It also includes individuals whose country of citizenship is, or was, engaged in hostilities with Bangladesh since the declaration of independence in March 1971.
However, jus soli citizenship is granted to some Urdu-speaking people of Bangladesh by a High Court verdict.
Dhaka. Photo: Simon Reza (Unsplash)
Citizenship by Migration
The government of Bangladesh retains the authority to confer citizenship through migration to individuals who meet the following criteria:
- Relocated to the territories that later became part of Bangladesh.
- Undertook this relocation after the enactment of the Citizenship Act of 1951 and before the 1st of January, 1952.
- Transferred from any region within the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent.
- Had the intention of establishing permanent residency within the territory that subsequently became a part of Bangladesh.
- Obtained a certificate of residence.
In such instances, citizenship is acquired by the applicant along with their spouse, minor children, and dependents who are either fully or partially reliant on the applicant.
According to the regulations of Bangladesh, you have the option to acquire citizenship through residency or naturalisation. You are eligible to apply for Bangladeshi citizenship if you:
- Have reached the legal age.
- Comply with all laws and common norms of behaviour.
- Speak Bengali, the official language of the Republic of Bangladesh.
- Have resided legally in Bangladesh for at least five years (or two years if you are married to a citizen).
- Intend to continue to live in the country.
The decision regarding conferring citizenship upon a foreign individual lies with the Bangladeshi government. If the applicant holds citizenship in a country where naturalisation of Bangladeshis is not permitted, they are ineligible for naturalisation in Bangladesh. Furthermore, a foreigner who has successfully obtained naturalisation in Bangladesh must renounce any other citizenships they hold.
Dhaka. Photo: Tanvir Islam (Unsplash)
Bangladeshi Citizenship by Investment
To obtain a passport of the Republic, you are required to either invest $5 million in an industrial or commercial project within the country or transfer $1 million to a recognized financial institution in Bangladesh. It's important to note that this amount cannot be subsequently re-exported from the country.
An investment of $75,000 is sufficient to secure a permanent residence permit.
How to Apply for Bangladeshi Citizenship
If you are residing in Bangladesh, the process for applying for citizenship involves submitting your application directly to the government authorities of the country. For those located outside the republic, you are required to submit your application to the Bangladeshi diplomatic mission or consulate in your country of residence. In cases where such institutions do not exist in your country, you can proceed with your application in the nearest country where these facilities are accessible.
The application must be accompanied by an affidavit statement attesting to the accuracy of the enclosed information, as well as four passport-sized photographs of the applicant, duly certified by a first-class officer or a justice of the peace. The Bangladesh authorities, to whom you are submitting your application, hold the authority to request any supplementary information and documents they deem essential.
In a Nutshell
Bangladeshi citizenship can be acquired through descent, naturalisation, or investment. Additionally, passports are issued to individuals who migrated to the country following the partition of former British India.
Cover photo: Masba Molla (Unsplash)