Pakistan Emigration and Immigration

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Dark thin font green pin Version 4.png Prior to 1947, Pakistan was part of British India. For emigration and immigration information, history, and links to records prior to 1947, go to India Emigration and Immigration.

Online Records For India Including Pakistan[edit | edit source]

For online records prior to the partition of India into Pakistan, Bangladesh, and India:

Hindu Pilgrimage Records[edit | edit source]

Hindu pilgrimage records kept by a Pandit for Punjab in India and Pakistan. Registers are arranged by "caste". They contain native place, names of family members, the last occasion on which a family member came to this place of pilgrimage and made an entry in the register, the ceremony performed at the time and offering made to the priest. No women are mentioned unless their deaths are referred to indirectly.

Almanacs and Directories[edit | edit source]

At the back of the Bombay Calendar and Almanac and the Madras Almanac, there are lists of shipping departures from India to various ports in England. The lists include the name of the British passengers and notes the presence of a native servant. However, they do not usually give the name of the servant. Occasionally free native passengers may be named. Published lists of passages to and from India are also included in the Bengal Directory of 1815-59.

1813 HathiTrust Digital Library; 1815; 1832 1834 1839 all HathiTrust DL; 1839 Google Books.

Offices and Archives to Contact[edit | edit source]

The British Library, India Office[edit | edit source]

Asian and African Studies enquiries
The British Library, India Office
96 Euston Road
London NW1 2DB
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7873
Fax: +44 (0)20 7412 7641

They offer a remote Ecclesiastical Search Service and Certified Copies for enquirers who cannot find required information on this database, and those who are unable to visit our reading room.
Use this website to search:

  • 300,000 births, baptisms, marriages, deaths and burials in the India Office Records
  • biographical notes from a variety of sources
  • for mainly British and European people in India c.1600-1949
  • for people in other countries connected with the history of the British in India

The information included in the India Office Family History Search website is taken from a card index hitherto available only at the British Library. The card index was compiled by members of staff at the India Office Records from the mid-1970s onwards to meet the growing interest in genealogy. Users should note that probably less than 10% of the biographical sources available in the India Office Records was incorporated into the index, although future additions to this website are planned. As the biographical information included in this website is only a small part of the total available in the archives, users may need to search elsewhere in the records – see India Office Records: Family History Sources.

Passport Records[edit | edit source]

Duplicate identity certificates of natives of India proceeding to Europe 1900-17 (when their issue ceased) and duplicate passports from 1907 were sent to the British Library, India Office. Identity certificates 1900-1917 and passports for 1907-15 are at the British Library under reference L/P and J6. The duplicate passports for 1916-31 appear to have been destroyed.

National Archives, Kew[edit | edit source]

The National Archives
Ruskin Avenue, Kew
Richmond, Surrey TW9 4DU
Guide: Immigration and Immigrants

Finding the Town of Origin in Pakistan[edit | edit source]

If you are using emigration/immigration records to find the name of your ancestors' town in Pakistan, see Pakistan Finding Town of Origin for additional research strategies.

Pakistan Emigration and Immigration[edit | edit source]

"Emigration" means moving out of a country. "Immigration" means moving into a country.
Emigration and immigration sources list the names of people leaving (emigrating) or arriving (immigrating) in the country. These sources may be passenger lists, permissions to emigrate, or records of passports issued. The information in these records may include the emigrants’ names, ages, occupations, destinations, and places of origin or birthplaces. Sometimes they also show family groups.

Partition of India[edit | edit source]

  • Following the partition of India, massive population exchanges occurred between the two newly formed nations, spanning several months. Based on the 1951 census, immediately after the partition 7.226 million Muslims migrated from India to Pakistan, while 7.249 million Hindus and Sikhs moved from Pakistan to India. Partition of India

Immigration to Pakistan[edit | edit source]

  • As of 2009, only 2.1% of the population of Pakistan had foreign origins. However, the number of immigrants population in Pakistan recently grew sharply.
  • Immigrants from South Asia make up a growing proportion of immigrants in Pakistan. The largest immigrant group in Pakistan is Bangladeshis, followed by Afghans, Tajiks, Uzbeks, Turkmens, Indians, Sri Lankan, Burmese and Britons including a sizeable number of those of Pakistani origin.
  • Other expatriate communities in Pakistan are Armenians, Australians, Iranians, Turks, Iraqis, Chinese, Americans, previously Bosnian refugees, and many others.
  • Migrants from different countries of Arab world, especially Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, Syria, Kuwait, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen, are in the thousands.
  • Nearly all illegal migrants in Pakistan are Muslim refugees, and they are accepted by the local population. There is no political support or legislation to deport these refugees from Pakistan.
  • There were 200 settlements of Bengali-speaking people in Pakistan, of which 132 are in Karachi. They are found in various areas of Pakistan such as Thatta, Badin, Hyderabad, Tando Adam and Lahore. Experts say that the migration of both Bengalis and Burmese (Rohingya) to Pakistan started in the 1980s and continued until 1998.
  • Large scale Rohingya migration to Karachi made Karachi one of the largest population centres of Rohingyas in the world after Myanmar.
  • The Burmese community of Karachi is spread out over 60 slums in Karachi such as the Burmi Colony in Korangi, Arakanabad, Machchar colony, Bilal colony, Ziaul Haq Colony and Godhra Camp.
  • Thousands of Uyghur Muslims have also migrated to the Gilgit-Baltistan region of Pakistan, fleeing religious and cultural persecution in Xinjiang, China.[1]

Emigration From Pakistan[edit | edit source]

  • From 1842 to 1857, a small number of immigrants from Punjab, Sindh and Kashmir began arriving in the British Isles as employees of the British East India Company, typically as lashkars and sailors in British port cities.
  • After the establishment of the British Empire in 1857, Baloch and Pashtuns along with Punjabis, Sindhis and Kashmiris continued coming to Britain as seamen, traders, students, domestic workers, cricketers, political officials and visitors. A small number of them settled in the region.
  • Between 1860 and 1930, camel caravans worked in Outback Australia which included Pashtun, Punjabi, Baloch and Sindhi men as well as others from Kashmir.
  • By 1900, Punjabis and Pashtuns began migrating to other parts of the British Empire. Many were veterans of the British Army, but included a small migrant population who were legally considered British subjects. Pashtun migrants opted for the British Trucial States (now the United Arab Emirates), where the British used their subjects as valuable human resource in running the administration.
  • British Columbia became a destination for many Punjabi migrants as agents of the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Hudson's Bay Company were guaranteeing jobs for them between 1902 and 1905. However, many Punjabi migrants returned due to racism and curtailing migration of non-whites by the Canadian government.
  • Others sought opportunities by moving to the United States, particularly Yuba City, California. Poor wages and working conditions convinced Punjabi workers to pool their resources, lease land and grow their own crops, thereby establishing themselves in the newly budding farming economy of northern California.
  • Many people from modern Pakistan migrated and settled in Malaysia which was also part of the British Empire. The Malays and Pakistanis share strong Muslim identity. At the time of Malaysia's independence under the Federation of Malaya Independence Act 1957, there were more than two hundred thousand Pakistanis residing in Malaysia. Many elite Malay families have at least one grandparent that was Pakistani. Diplomats, Judges, Legislators, and other government cadres include people with recognized Pakistani-Malay bloodlines.
  • By 1971, no more than 900,000 Pakistanis lived abroad with the majority residing in the United Kingdom and Saudi Arabia. In 1959, small numbers of Pakistanis were found to be working in Bahrain, Kuwait and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf.
  • The first mass migration of Pakistanis began in 1965 during the construction of Mangla Dam in Azad Jammu & Kashmir. Over 280 villages around Mirpur and Dadyal were submerged, which lead to the displacement of over 110,000 people from the region. During the same period, the British government were actively seeking people from abroad to work in industrial towns in north-west England who were suffering from worker shortages. Thus many worker permits for Britain were awarded to the displaced population of Mirpur who were eligible for work. Close to 50,000 Pakistanis from Mirpur emigrated to Northern England between 1965 and 1970.
  • During the 1970s and 80s, there was a rising wave of international migration to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait or Libya. The majority of migrants were young males who would seek work abroad while families would remain back in Pakistan.
  • During the 1960s and 1970s, the remaining Pakistani Jewish community of 2000 began emigrating to Israel and settled in Ramla.
  • Today over 7.6 million Pakistanis live abroad, with an estimated 4 million Pakistanis in the Persian Gulf region. The expatriate labor force in the Persian Gulf has, however, followed what might be called a "circulating work force" pattern. Workers come in, work for a few years during which they periodically visit Pakistan for short or long breaks, and finally return permanently.[2]

Overseas Pakistani Population[3][edit | edit source]

This list includes the countries with populations above 20,000. There are numerous additional countries with smaller populations. See Overseas Pakistani:Population by Country, in Wikipedia for the full chart.
Population of Pakistanis abroad, by country, according to the 2017-18 Ministry of Overseas Pakistanis and Human Resource Development Yearbook, or other estimates:


  • Saudi Arabia: 2,600,000
  • United Arab Emirates: 1,500,000
  • Oman: 231,685
  • Bahrain: 117,000
  • Kuwait: 109,853
  • Malaysia: 59,281
  • Iran: 40,000


  • United States: 409,163
  • Canada: 215,560


  • South Africa: 250,000


  • Australia: 64,346


  • London: 1,174,983
  • England except London: 1,112,282
  • Scotland: 49,381
  • Wales: 12,229
  • Northern Ireland: 1,091
  • Italy: 118,181
  • France: 120,000
  • Spain: 91,632
  • Germany: 73,975
  • Norway: 46,300
  • Greece: 34,177
  • Denmark: 25,661
  • Sweden: 24,631
  • Netherlands: 23,855

Records of Pakistani Emigrants in Their Destination Nations[edit | edit source]

Dark thin font green pin Version 4.png One option is to look for records about the ancestor in the country of destination, the country they immigrated into. See links to immigration records for major destination countries below. Emigration/Immigration articles for additional destination countries can be found in the Wiki Category: Emigration and Immigration Records.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "Immigration to Pakistan", in Wikipedia,, accessed 8 July 2021.
  2. "Overseas Pakistani", in Wikipedia,, accessed 8 July 2021.
  3. "Overseas Pakistani:Population by Country", in Wikipedia,, accessed 8 July 2021.