More than six million tourists stop to experience the beauty of The Bahamas each year. Many of them board the plane or boat home with dreams of returning to make the islands their home. Just how hard is it to get Bahamian citizenship?
Bahamian Citizenship by Birth
The government automatically grants citizenship to children of:
- Married couples where one or both have citizenship, regardless of where they live.
- Single female citizens, regardless of where they live.
- Single female noncitizens when the fathers are Bahamian and were born on the islands.
- Adoptive married male citizens or married or single female citizens.
Dual citizenship is granted only to children of Bahamian citizens born in foreign countries that automatically grant citizenship to people born within their boundaries. The Bahamas allows dual citizenship to age 21, at which point the child must choose a country of allegiance. If the child opts to abandon Bahamian citizenship, he may apply for permanent residence.
How to Become a Bahamian Citizen
The most common ways of obtaining Bahamian citizenship are through marriage and long-term residential status. However, others are sometimes eligible, for instance:
- People who have had legal permanent resident standing for 10 years, and who have spent six years or longer in The Bahamas, including the 12 months leading up to filing the application.
- A woman married to a Bahamian citizen.
- Children with one or two parents who are citizens.
- Children born to noncitizens while in The Bahamas. They must apply after age 18, but before age 19.
Appropriate Applications for Bahamian Citizenship
There are three different applications used for requesting citizenship. Application Form 1 is only for female spouses of citizens, and Application Form 4 is only for children of Bahamian mothers born outside of the islands. All other applicants should use Application Form 2. Applicants can pick up forms at one of the Department of Immigration offices found throughout The Bahamas or can download them online from the government website.
Read More: Ways to Lose Citizenship
Paperwork and Fees to Apply for Bahamian Citizenship
Bahamian law is more restrictive than other countries' when it comes to who can apply for citizenship. The appropriate paperwork for an application depends on the current legal status of the applicant and her claim to citizenship.
All applicants must submit:
- Birth certificate.
- Two passport-sized color photos.
- All existing Bahamas visas and permits, if applicable.
- Biodata page of a passport, valid for six months.
- Police certificate of good behavior for applicants 14 years of age and older from the six months leading up to application.
- BS$10.00 postage stamp.
- BS$100.00 processing fee.
Non-spouse applicants must also submit:
- Parents’ birth certificates.
- Parents’ marriage licenses, if applicable.
- Mother’s passport, if born to Bahamian female citizen outside The Bahamas.
Spouse applicants must also submit:
- Spouse’s birth certificate.
- Marriage certificate.
- Divorce or death certificates for previous spouses.
- Female applicants must also submit a medical certificate dated within 30 days of application.
Applicants must submit original documentation and must include English translations for documents written in other languages.
How Long Does It Take?
The good news about this complicated process is that the government processes applications quickly. Applicants typically receive a decision within three to four weeks of submitting their applications. If an applicant is denied citizenship, he may appeal with the help of a lawyer.
Bahamian citizenship has its perks, but it is not the only way to enjoy this tropical island home. An alternative to Bahamian citizenship is to apply for resident standing. Non-Bahamian citizens can live on the islands with annual residency, spousal residency or permanent residency permits. Purchasing property is the most common way to qualify. Applicants may also secure a student or work visa when sponsored by a school or employer.