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Mitchell: Constitution Says Who Is Automatically A Citizen

PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell.

PLP Chairman Fred Mitchell.

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

THE Minnis Administration's plan to amend the Bahamas Nationality Act to grant children of Bahamian women born outside the Bahamas automatic citizenship "almost certainly" runs "ultra vires of the Constitution," Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Fred Mitchell said Friday.

"The Constitution says who is automatically a citizen," the former Foreign Affairs and Immigration Minister said. "But one has to see the details. In any event, under the PLP we had announced that by policy that category of the children of Bahamian women with foreign spouses would be granted citizenship upon application. So I am not sure given the rejection of an amendment to the Constitution that the government is in a lawful position to reverse that. I don't think statue law can alter that."

He noted that section 6(2) of the Bahamas National Act currently gives the minister power to grant citizenship to any child upon application.

The Act says: "The Minister may at his discretion cause the minor child of a citizen of The Bahamas to be registered as a citizen of The Bahamas upon application made in the prescribed manner by the parent or guardian of such child. The Minister may at his discretion, in such special circumstances as he may think fit, cause any minor to be registered as a citizen of The Bahamas."

Mr Mitchell's comments follow Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis' immigration-related announcements in the House of Assembly Thursday.

The prospect of granting children of Bahamian women automatic citizenship was put to the country in last year's constitutional referendum. The first of the four questions, it was overwhelmingly rejected, with 32,249 people voting “yes” and 51,022 people voting “no”.

Mr Mitchell also said the administration's plan to establish a commission independent of Cabinet that has the power to grant citizenship could also be unconstitutional.

A major pledge of the Minnis Administration's approach to immigration has been to create an independent commission to approve applications for citizenship.

The administration believes this could quicken the approvals process and remove politics, ensuring politicians don't have the power to grant citizenship unless national security concerns are pertinent.

Mr Mitchell said while he'll await the specifics of the administration's plan, it's not clear the Constitution would allow an administration to do this.

"This is the one that would appear to be impermissible by the Constitution under the principle delegate cannot delegate," he said. "If I'm correct, while the Constitution gives the power to describe how citizenship might be acquired, I do not think that it contemplates devolving that power from the government. Right now the Act says the 'minister' and so I think that is as far as the devolution can go."

Comments

ohdrap4 1 year, 1 month ago

what goes around comes around.

you were not huffing and puffing when the plp implemented the belonger's permit.

that is the plp.

when a bahamian woman laments that her children by a foreign husband are not citizens, they tell her she should have had her children out of wedlock before marrying the fella.

women can cry in the bedroom or the kitchen, where it is warm.

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John 1 year, 1 month ago

One must really wonder who is behind these citizens change issues and the motive behind it. With so much pressing issues facing the country why would the Minnis government rush to change qualifications for Bahamian citizenship that the Bahamian election voted so resoundingly against? Why is the Minnis government planning to establish a lottery when the Bahamian people loudly and clearly said they didn’t want one? Clearly these moves are to appease some special interests groups at the expense and possible detriment of the Bahamian people. And if Minnis continues to go against the wishes of the people who elected him and the others he is mandated to serve, his defeat at the polls during the next Election will be the worst in the history of this country. Is GAY marriage next on his agenda?

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 1 month ago

There are too many unfair sexist clauses concerning citizenship ....... what can be cleaned up by ordinary legislation needs to be done immediately ........ Article 14(1) also has to be regularized for Bahamian men who can prove using DNA that they are the fathers of children born to non-Bahamian women

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DDK 1 year, 1 month ago

Just how can the rights of Bahamian women be detrimental to Bahamians? How can a national lottery be detrimental to Bahamians when "web shop" are obviously so beneficial for them?

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 1 month ago

There are TOO MANY children born in The Bahamas out of wedlock to non-Bahamian women (and Bahamian men) ...... What is going to be done with the 20,000 - 30,000 non-Bahamians who fall into this category??????? ....... I call these the "Frankies" of The Bahamas ...... Thank God Frankie had a political benefactor.

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regrolli 1 year, 1 month ago

Fred Mitchell is a bigot; pure, simple and ugly. He advertises this every time he speaks. How in 2017 can any right minded human being advocate anything but equality for all Bahamians? It is sickening that Bahamians do anything more than stone him.

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GODCOUNTRYBAHAMIANFIRST 1 year, 1 month ago

It says to Amend. Definition of Amend: "To make changes, update." Well, I don't know about all of that. I do know that this used to be a country that wanted people that provided jobs for Bahamians and could contribute to the country in a positive way, to come in. Now we have people who compete with us for work, and bring their own culture. I know that we used to be a prideful nation. Many of these people have no desire to be like us. This is not being prejudice or racist. We are a loving people and we care about other people, but we must be smart. We cannot afford not to be smart. I am not ashamed of Jesus, or of being a patriot of this country. Bahamians first, as it should be in any country of their people. This new government has a chance to make us a great island nation again, I hope they do it and are thinking about that when they are 'AMENDING' things. If Fred Mitchell has something to say that can help us as a nation, then I am willing to hear him. I am willing to hear anyone who loves this country. If he is not trying to help, then shame on him. Also we must think about ISIS that is infiltrating countries through people coming in. So government must be thinking about everything when 'amending', though it may seem mean. That is my point. We must do the right thing for the country, even it has to do with women who have children abroad, and pay attention to our constitution while doing it. We must be careful. I have seen what change can do to a country, and it's not always pretty in the end.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 1 month ago

Unfortunately Fred is right on this one and the Dimwitted Doc is most assuredly wrong. Minnis is behaving like Trump....power has gone to his head....he's constantly shooting-from-his-hip and making a complete fool of himself. And to top it off, his cabinet ministers are now constantly heaping praise on him at every opportunity no matter what he does because they know he seeks and needs, more than anything else, their glowing praise. Yes indeed, our insecure PM welcomes the praise of the "Yes" men he has surrounded himself with. This does not augur well for our country going forward.

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licks2 1 year, 1 month ago

NOW YOU NEED TO GO AND READ THAT DOCUMENT. . .FRED IS DEAD WRONG. . .AND YOU TOO FOR FOLLOWING DUMB CRAP!! WILL SOMEBODY IN THE DNA PLEASE CENSOR THIS POSTER BEFORE HE/SHE KILL THE ONLY HOPE OF GIVING THE FNM A FIGHT COME NEXT ELECTION. . .

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CatIslandBoy 1 year, 1 month ago

Fred Mitchell is dead wrong on this one, as he has always been on most every topic that pertains to the well-being and uplifting of this country. I guess, welcome to Bradley Roberts lite! Any Bahamian who does not believe that Bahamian women are entitled to the same constitutional rights as their male counterparts, needs have their heads examined. Of course I understand that some of you see every every action of this government through PLP shaded lenses. For you, I feel sorry. However this country will march boldly into the 21st century with or without you.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 1 month ago

THE Minnis Administration's plan to amend the Bahamas Nationality Act to grant children of Bahamian women born outside the Bahamas automatic citizenship "almost certainly" runs "ultra vires of the Constitution," Progressive Liberal Party Chairman Fred Mitchell said Friday...........The prospect of granting children of Bahamian women automatic citizenship was put to the country in last year's constitutional referendum. The first of the four questions, it was overwhelmingly rejected, with 32,249 people voting “yes” and 51,022 people voting “no”.

Unless one is willing to both tear up our Constitution and ignore the will of the Bahamian people as expressed in a duly held national referendum, Fred Mitchell is 100% right on the points made by him that are quoted immediately above.

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 1 month ago

And millions of dollars were spent educating Bahamians all over the Bahamas on the issues behind the questions asked in the national referendum referred to by Fred. But CatIslandBoy no doubt believes his vote on the first of the four questions in that referendum should have counted more than our majority vote. Why? Because he probably smugly thinks he is smarter than most of us dumb folks that he looks down on.

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CatIslandBoy 1 year, 1 month ago

@Well_mudda_take_sic. You are so full of yourself! Look around, my fellow blogger. You are in the minority. Most Bahamians are light years ahead of you and can see right through your BS; no matter how you dress it up. There is no doubt that you are still getting over the trashing that the DNA and PLP took at the polls, but please accept that the FNM were elected and given an overwhelming mandate to govern this country, despite your out of date logic. Just suck it up and live with it! You got almost 5 years to go. This mean that we will just have to endure your putrid bile for this period, but so be it!

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Well_mudda_take_sic 1 year, 1 month ago

Try run or deflect from the real issues as you may.....but they will always remain to be addressed. Not sure why you think I'm a PLP or DNA supporter, but I do confess to wishing we had a stronger opposition in the HOA to help keep the Minnis-led administration on an even keel.

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licks2 1 year, 1 month ago

You is shelly moss aye? You for get that those articles needed no referendum to be done. . .the PLP wanted to entrenched them into the Constitution. . .that activity needed a referendum to be done. . .thus they were put to the people!! The DNA needs to sanction ya tail for being so dumb about so important issues. . .

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John 1 year, 1 month ago

Well you talk about the 20,000 to 30,000 children who are born in the country and have no status. Most countries laws state that children born out of wedlock take the nationality of their father. So given They already have the nationality of their fathers and Minnis is now also making them Bahamians through the nationality of their mothers, Minnis is opening a whole new can of worms. Firstly many countries does not recognize dual nationality so these individuals will have to give up or confirm their Bahamian citizenship at some point, say 18. Secondly where there’s a family dispute and the father is claiming one nationality for the children and the mother is saying Bahamian what overrules? Thirdly since these children citizenship are automatic they can live outside the country most of their lives and if they get in problems with the law, they can be deported to the Bahamas, no questions asked. Then there can be the claim of proof of citizenship of the mother. For example there are many children being born to parents of Haitian illegal immigrants. The mother, and maybe father was born in the Bahamas all their lives but have no legal status. How do you classify these children and the generations of them to come? Yes there may be amendments to citizenship requirements. But Minnis cannot take it upon himself to do it against the wishes of the Bahamian people. And if he doesn’t tread carefully the entire state of the indigenous Bahamian can be wiped out with the wrong stroke of a pen.

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ohdrap4 1 year, 1 month ago

you are making circular arguments.

there are children born in wedlock in this country of a bahamina mother and foreign father who are denied citizenship.

children born in wedlock to a bahamian father and foreign mother receive citizenship.

that is inequality,

your bigotry is showing.

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Reality_Check 1 year, 1 month ago

We do not live in your Bahamas; we live in our Bahamas, a democratic country where all votes count. The people have already spoken on this matter in a recent national referendum. Who are you to call the majority of voters in that referendum bigots?! Put your mind at ease by finding another country if you don't like the majority of us.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 1 month ago

Ohdrap ....... If you are born in The Bahamas IN WEDLOCK and one of your parents is a Bahamian, you are 100% Bahamian ..... please read the Constitution.

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John 1 year, 1 month ago

actually its your ignorance you are mistaking for bigotry.

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licks2 1 year, 1 month ago

Every one of those countries allow duel-citizenship with the Bahamas. . .and just as each of those countries. . .as so with the Bahamas. . .YOU CANNOT BE ELECTED TO THEIR GOVERNMENT HOLDING DUEL STATUS. . .there are no other prohibitions with the Bahamians holding duel citizenship. . . not even Haiti forbids it!!

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infoseeker 1 year, 1 month ago

"Well you talk about the 20,000 to 30,000 children who are born in the country and have no status. Most countries laws state that children born out of wedlock take the nationality of their father. So given They already have the nationality of their fathers" What kind of stupid are you, we are the opposite of most countries because as a man out of wedlock you take your mother's nationality here in the Bahamas, this is what they are correcting you JackA**

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licks2 1 year, 1 month ago

Where you get that number from? Again. . .some states gives it through the mother. . .some through the the father. . .

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Apostle 1 year, 1 month ago

Please Fred, no time for your pandering. The PLP changed the outcome of the gambling referendum and enacted the law to facilitate an illegal enterprise making it legal.You forget quick.

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Required 1 year, 1 month ago

Fred, it pains me to admit, is indeed right on most of this.

What I suspect he is wrong about is the "independent" commission. That seems to be easily compatible with the Constitution.

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SP 1 year, 1 month ago

Is Fred Mitchell "talking" to us underlings now?

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DDK 1 year, 1 month ago

"THE CONSTITUTION OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF THE BAHAMAS CHAPTER II CITIZENSHIP

  1. (1) A person born in The Bahamas after 9th July 1973 neither of whose parents is a citizen of The Bahamas shall be entitled, upon making application on his attaining the age of eighteen years or within twelve months thereafter in such manner as may be prescribed, to be registered as a citizen of The Bahamas: Provided that if he is a citizen of some country other than The Bahamas he shall not be entitled to be registered as a citizen of The Bahamas under this Article unless he renounces his citizenship of that other country, takes the oath of allegiance and makes and registers such declaration of his intentions concerning residence as may be prescribed. (2) Any application for registration under this Article shall be subject to such exceptions or qualifications as may be prescribed in the interests of national security or public policy."

I am curious as to what might constitute the exceptions or qualifications as may be prescribed in the interests of national security or public policy referred to in 7(2). Any help from you legal buffs out there?

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licks2 1 year, 1 month ago

Ya see why I tell yinna DNA that yall don't know what the hell yinna talking about. . .that article was initial for Order in Chief 1973. . .the initial turn-over when we were granted independence. . .not for thereafter. . .now read on further and it will show you what I am talking about. . .hiding the information will not help ya cause there fella!! "Provided that "IF" he is a citizen of some country other than the BAHAMAS. . .he shall not be entitled to be registered as a citizen of the Bahamas. . .unless he renounced his citizenship of that country! They key word here is "NOT A BAHAMIAN". . .THOSE Bahamians WITH DUEL CITIZENSHIP WERE NOT REQUIRED TO GIVE UP ANYTHING!! ONLY THOSE WHO WERE NOT BAHAMIAN ON JULY 10TH, 1973 WERE REQUIRED TO GIVE UP THEIR OTHER CITIZENSHIP!!

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Maynergy 1 year, 1 month ago

P. Carl Gibson - Home | Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BehindGreyCu...">https://www.facebook.com/BehindGreyCu... P. Carl Gibson. 35 likes · 1 talking about this. Behind Grey Curtains" by P. Carl Gibson, could very well as of the May 10th, 2017, show how generations...

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 1 month ago

So in other words all yinnah from foreign just come here and pop out a puppy for free in our clinics and we ga give dem passport. Das da law bey.

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licks2 1 year, 1 month ago

Oh why yinna DNA dem don't go get in a group and hire some body to teach yinna these things. . .IF THEY ARE HERE LEGALLY. . .YES SIR. . .AT 18 THEY ARE ENTITLED! THAT RIGHT IS REMOVED AT 19 IF NO REQUEST IS MADE! HOWEVER, AN ILLEGAL PERSON IS "NON-EXISTENT" IN CONSTITUTION. IN OTHER WORDS. . .THEY ARE NOT HERE. . .EVERYBODY ELSE IS ENTITLED!!

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Socrates 1 year, 1 month ago

when it comes to equal rights for bahamian women in 2017, this country ranks on par with Saudi Arabia... what company...

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John 1 year, 1 month ago

Obviously this change is citizenship law is being rammed down our throats by the US and other external forces. Now those mothers who choose to go the US to have their babies will no longer have the luxury of their children having US citizenship. And many children who are born in the US and in other countries around the world may find themselves being deported unceremoniously even after they live in those countries all their lives. Even though these persons may be entitled to Bahamian citizenship, there should be a process where they have to apply and to relinquish the citizenship of any other country.

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BahamasForBahamians 1 year, 1 month ago

As much as the red shirt tribe of Tribune commentators may hate the Fairy Fred, he is legally correct on this one.

This requires constitutional amendments - which requires another referendum.

Does hubert think every Prime Minister did that way because they wanted to?

Where is this guys legal advisors? I hope they are not paid. He has been speaking without advice or logic quite often these days.

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licks2 1 year, 1 month ago

This conclusion shows how limited is your knowledge of the constitution. . .I can reasonably believe that FM. . .being a lawyer is not being entirely honest. . . however, I cannot afford you the same concession. . .you should do your homework before you speak. . .or are you being just as dishonest as Mr. Mitchell? The way the current constitution is written is fine for the present Immigration Act to do what Doc wants to do. . .however, to do what the PLP wanted to do (enshrine it in constitution) require a referendum. . .

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 1 month ago

Thank you, Licks ......... and then tell Fairy Fred go and challenge it in court .... as the fool he is.

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Tarzan 1 year, 1 month ago

....but if you take away the power vested in a Minister to decide who gets citizenship, and instead have lawful rules, you take away the power to sell citizenship and that is a lot of money that corrupt PLP's want to spend.

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Reality_Check 1 year, 1 month ago

Carl Bethel had better keep one very fundamental thing straight in that wandering mind of his that is all too often prone to mischief and deceit. It is the people of the Bahamas, i.e. we Bahamian citizens, who get to determine directly for themselves who is eligible to be a Bahamian citizen. Our elected officials are only able to determine by statute and regulations the terms, conditions and procedures by which constitutionally eligible individuals are to be conferred Bahamian citizenship. This difference here may be subtle and difficult for many to understand, but it is nevertheless a vitally important difference. Put another way, it was always intended that the right and privilege to determine citizenship eligibility should rest directly with the Bahamian people, i.e. be reserved directly unto ourselves through our Constitution, as opposed to being reserved indirectly by us through our elected officials. There are somethings we simply and rightly do not ever want to trust or empower our elected officials to do - the determination of who is eligible to be a Bahamian is at the very top of that list!

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jamaicaproud 1 year, 1 month ago

It is indeed a strange place, where people can argue against a child of a citizen gaining citizenship. Is Does Bahamian citizenship grant one access to heaven? This is prejudice, bigotry and paranoia amplified. How can you have children of citizens being "out of status"? Is it that Bahamian men want to control their women by denying certain rights? Shameful and trifling. Won't a bunch of mot status people lead to unemployability, crime, ghettoes, shanties etc? You all just need to ship all foreigners out by Dec 31. Even those with skills that are needed in the archipelago.

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My2cents 1 year, 1 month ago

The rights to citizenship for a child of one Bahamian parent should be automatic. I don't agree with anyone who feels otherwise. However, the children of naturalized Bahamians and non Bahamians should not have the same entitlement, they should apply. We have far too many "proud" Haitians and Jamaicans, etc. who obtain citizenship through fraudulent means. And treat our country like a 20 year rest stop, toward the US, where they can access "free" resources and outbid unskilled Bahamians for jobs that Bahamians supposedly won't do.

The Bahamas can barely sustain it's existing population. To open yet another path for fraud where men can claim 20 unrelated kids for a bottle of rum is irresponsible. The government needs to really needs to address how the new legislation will minimize fraud in these cases.

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Equality2 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Children born to women married to non-nationals, and unwed men do not have the same rights to citizenship as men married to non-national women. How do you justify this as a country to say this is fair? It’s a very sexist and antiquated way of thought. Here is the information for those of you that really don’t know what you’re talking about.

Automatic Bahamian citizenship is given to persons who are:

Born in The Bahamas to married parents, with either parents being a Bahamian citizen Born to an un-married Bahamian female in or outside of The Bahamas Born outside of The Bahamas to a married Bahamian male who was not born outside The Bahamas Adopted by a married Bahamian male Adopted by a single Bahamian female. All other foreign nationals who wish to be afforded the rights, responsibilities, and privileges afforded to Bahamians, and qualify, must apply for citizenship.

Eligibility In order to apply for Bahamian citizenship, persons must be one of the following:

A legal permanent resident in The Bahamas who has had the legal status for 10 years, including the 12 months immediately preceding the date of application, and who has resided in The Bahamas for a minimum of 6 years preceding the 12 months mentioned above A female spouse of a Bahamian citizen Born in The Bahamas after 9th July, 1973 to Non-Bahamian parents A child (adopted or biological) who has at least one Bahamian parent (Naturalised or otherwise) A child born in the Bahamas to non-Bahamian parents Please note that whilst a male spouse of a Bahamian citizen may not be eligible for natural citizenship, he would be eligible for naturalized citizenship.

Process

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Equality2 11 months, 4 weeks ago

Children born to women married to non-nationals, and unwed men do not have the same rights to citizenship as men married to non-national women. How do you justify this as a country to say this is fair? It’s a very sexist and antiquated way of thought. Here is the information for those of you that really don’t know what you’re talking about.

Automatic Bahamian citizenship is given to persons who are:

Born in The Bahamas to married parents, with either parents being a Bahamian citizen Born to an un-married Bahamian female in or outside of The Bahamas Born outside of The Bahamas to a married Bahamian male who was not born outside The Bahamas Adopted by a married Bahamian male Adopted by a single Bahamian female. All other foreign nationals who wish to be afforded the rights, responsibilities, and privileges afforded to Bahamians, and qualify, must apply for citizenship.

Eligibility In order to apply for Bahamian citizenship, persons must be one of the following:

A legal permanent resident in The Bahamas who has had the legal status for 10 years, including the 12 months immediately preceding the date of application, and who has resided in The Bahamas for a minimum of 6 years preceding the 12 months mentioned above A female spouse of a Bahamian citizen Born in The Bahamas after 9th July, 1973 to Non-Bahamian parents A child (adopted or biological) who has at least one Bahamian parent (Naturalised or otherwise) A child born in the Bahamas to non-Bahamian parents Please note that whilst a male spouse of a Bahamian citizen may not be eligible for natural citizenship, he would be eligible for naturalized citizenship.

Process

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