Since the government is primarily concerned with protecting the status quo and avoiding the compromise of its cultural values and standard of living, Foreigners who stay in the country for an extended period rarely become permanent citizens. As an ex-pat, your only option to becoming a naturalized citizen is by marriage to a native and this still does not guarantee your citizenship, particularly for non-Muslims who have not converted to Islam.
There are special cases where a Bahrain’s ruler may grant citizenship to a foreigner found the worthy cause of his outstanding services over several years. On the other hand, an employer might decide to gift a hard-working employee who has provided enormous contributions to the company in years, a work and residence permit of indefinite duration.
Such an employer must be a figure of considerable influence for this gift to be permanent. Since Citizenship by Birth does not apply to children born in Bahrain to foreign parents, there are only a few options left to explore. This is a guide on what to know on how to become a citizen here.
What are the options?
The Bahraini Nationality Legislation of September 16, 1963, is the foundation for Bahraini citizenship law. It does not allow dual citizenship, hence a Bahraini citizen who receives a foreign passport loses his or her Bahraini citizenship. The options open to foreigners include:
Citizenship by Birth
Applies to a person born to a foreign father who holds a permanent residence permit and is born in Bahrain. It also includes anyone born in the territory whose parentage is unknown.
Citizenship by Descent
This is granted to a person who has a Bahraini father, irrespective of where the mother is from, and irrespective of the place of birth. In cases where the father to a child by a native mother is unknown or stateless, such a child acquires citizenship by descent, irrespective of the place of birth.
Citizenship by marriage
This type of citizenship applies to a foreign spouse (woman) who marries a native citizen. A foreign husband, on the other hand, will not be granted citizenship if he marries a citizen.
Citizenship by Naturalization
A foreigner with a permanent residency visa who has lived in the country for at least 25 years qualifies. Such a foreigner must satisfy special conditions to be granted citizenship. As this is a rare occurrence, if you are looking to become a citizen by Naturalization, you must be willing to meet up with all requirements asked such as having a good and honorable character.
The following requirements must be completed when a foreigner applies for citizenship:
- Each applicant must present himself in person
- Non-Arab applicants must have lived in the United States for at least 15 years, whereas Arab applicants must have lived here for at least 25 years
- An applicant must be fluent in Arabic
- Must have a property in the Survey and Land Registration Bureau that is registered in his or her name
- Must be a moral individual with a decent reputation
- Must be mentally competent
- Has to have a stable source of sustenance
Some documents required during the application process are:
- A letter addressed to His Majesty, the King, showing the desire to obtain citizenship
- A document of the applicant’s ID card data
- The applicant’s current passport, both the original and a copy Birth certificate of the applicant
- Applicant’s marriage certificate (if issued in Bahrain)
- Certificate showing proof of an owned property, from the Survey & Land Registration Bureau
- Evidence of good health and fitness
Becoming a legal citizen takes time and requires patience. Not all applicants will be granted citizenship, so, it is best to expect a deprivation during the process. The processing usually takes several months to acquire.
For foreigners applying for citizenship through registration, there are no set processing fees. Only a one-time fee is charged when submitting the application form and upon approval.