Bangladeshi nationality law

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Bangladeshi Citizenship Act
National emblem of Bangladesh.svg
Parliament of Bangladesh
An Act relating to Bangladeshi citizenship
Enacted by Government of Bangladesh
Status: Current legislation

The nationality law of Bangladesh, titled the Bangladesh Citizenship Order, governs the issues of citizenship and nationality of the People's Republic of Bangladesh.


Upon beginning of State

Upon the beginning of the state, Bangladesh law granted citizenship to persons who were permanent residents of the territories that became Bangladesh on 25 March 1971.[1][2] The wording of the document makes separate mention of those whose father or grandfather was born in the territory and others, but it is unclear that there is any distinction in law between those groups.[2] The law also describes Bengalis who were in West Pakistan during the 1971 war and facing obstacles over returning as permanent residents eligible for Bangladeshi citizenship.[1]

Jus sanguinis

Bangladeshi citizenship is provided primarily jus sanguinis, or through bloodline, irrespectively of the place or legitimacy of the birth.[2] Therefore, any person born to a Bangladeshi woman illegitimately outside Bangladeshi soil would still be a Bangladeshi citizen, whereas a person born to two non-nationals in Bangladesh would not.

Jus soli

Citizenship is acquired at birth when the identity or nationality of the parents is unknown. In this regard, the child is assumed[2] to be born to Bangladeshi nationals, and hence, given citizenship upon birth. Jus soli citizenship is also conferred upon Urdu-speaking people of Bangladesh in May 2008 by a High Court verdict (see below).


Naturalization is not a right of any long-term resident. It is held at the discretion of the Government of Bangladesh, and may be conferred categorically or without certain rights or privileges.[2] Any adult of good character residing in Bangladesh for a period of five years (two, if married to a Bangladeshi), having resided in Bangladesh continuously for 12 months, competent in Bengali language and intending to reside in Bangladesh can apply for naturalisation.[2] If naturalised, the person must forfeit any other nationalities held. Any person who is a citizen of a nation where Bangladeshis are not allowed to naturalise (for instance, Saudi Arabia) is not eligible for naturalisation.[2]

If denied, a person can appeal against the decision in thirty days, where s/he will be heard; s/he cannot appeal if citizenship is conferred without certain rights or privileges. If accepted, a naturalised citizen must take an oath of allegiance within thirty days of the grant. A person is considered naturalised only after the oath.[2]

Naturalization of an alien man does not automatically extend to his spouse and children, but they may apply as soon as the naturalised man has taken the oath.[2]

Dual Citizenship

Dual citizenship is permitted under limited circumstances where the person is Bangladeshi not by naturalisation (in other words a Bangladeshi citizen of origin), and the other country which the person is a citizen of one of the following country(s): USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand or a European country. Such dual citizens of Bangladeshi origin can apply for a Dual Nationality Certificate which makes it legal to use a foreign passport; however people aren't prosecuted for not applying for such certificate. It is also possible to enter Bangladesh as a person of Bangladeshi origin, or a spouse/children of a person of Bangladeshi origin via an NVR seal on their foreign passports; exceptions include citizens of SAARC countries.

Naturalised citizens are required to relinquish any foreign nationality, and the acquisition of a foreign nationality denaturalises such persons as Bangladeshi citizens.

Travel freedom

Visa requirements for Bangladeshi citizens

In 2016, Bangladeshi citizens had visa-free or visa on arrival access to 39 countries and territories, ranking the Bangladeshi passport 96th in the world according to the Visa Restrictions Index.

Relinquishing nationality

Nationality can be revoked only if it was conferred upon a person by naturalisation, unless the person wilfully surrenders citizenship.[2]

It can be revoked if the naturalised alien provided false information in his/her application. It can also be revoked if the person is sentenced to prison for at least a year or fined at least BDT 1,000 (about US$14) within five years of the naturalisation, or if the person loses contact with Bangladesh for at least seven years. Defection by trade and communication with an enemy at war or remaining a citizen of an enemy state at war will also result in denaturalisation.[2]

Controversial issues

Ghulam Azam

Ghulam Azam was a leader of Jamaat-e-Islami during the Liberation War of Bangladesh. He moved to Lahore, Pakistan, during the war, held a Pakistani passport, applying repeatedly for a Bangladeshi nationality[3] until 1978, when he returned to Bangladesh on a tourist visa. He stayed in the same visa for 16 years until 1994. He then obtained Bangladeshi citizenship and a Bangladeshi passport during Khaleda Zia's tenure.

In a controversial verdict, the High Court, and later, the Supreme Court held that Ghulam Azam was a citizen by descent and domicile since the commencement of the Bangladesh Citizenship Order.

Stranded Pakistanis

The independence of Bangladesh from Pakistan in 1971 led to the abandonment in the Bengali-majority state of around half a million "Stranded Pakistanis", colloquially called Biharis, who traced their ethno-linguistic heritage mostly to the Bihar region. Biharis who maintained that they were Bangladeshis were granted citizenship by the Bangladesh Citizenship Order 1972.

Those who maintained that they were Pakistanis, however, were considered non-nationals, as well as those who found their names at the Red Cross list of refugees.[2] Despite official promises, neither Pakistan nor Bangladesh recognised them as citizens until May 2008, when the High Court conferred jus soli citizenship to all Urdu-speaking people born and residing in Bangladeshi territory after 1971.[4]

Rohingya people

Several hundred thousand Rohingya people fled Myanmar for Bangladesh including 250,000 in 1978 as a result of the King Dragon operation in Arakan. In an attempt to counter the Burmese claims that the Rohingyas are Bangladeshis, the Bangladesh Government amended the Citizenship Order in 1982 to officially declare all Rohingyas non-nationals.[4] Refugee crisis exacerbates because of human rights abuse in UN-run camps in Bangladesh,[5] and refugees are unable to return to Myanmar in fear of the junta.[6]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Bangladesh Citizenship (Temporary Provisions) Order, 1972 [Bangladesh]". UNHCR. Archived from the original on 7 October 2012. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Ko, Swan Sik (1990). Nationality and international law in Asian perspective. London: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers. ISBN 0-7923-0876-X.
  3. ^ "Bangladesh Vs. Professor Golam Azam and others, 1994, 23 CLC (AD)". Chancery Research and Consultants Trust. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  4. ^ a b "Bangladesh". The International Observatory on Statelessness. Retrieved 25 November 2011.
  5. ^ "UNHCR threatens to wind up Bangladesh operations". New Age. Dhaka. 21 May 2005. Archived from the original on 2009-04-25. Retrieved 25 April 2007.
  6. ^ Dummett, Mark (29 September 2007). "Burmese exiles in desperate conditions". BBC News. Retrieved 26 November 2011.

External links

  • Immigration, Bangladesh Police—Official web site
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