With the purpose of restoring historical justice by the persecution and the expulsion of which Jews from the Iberian Peninsula were victims, the law of Portuguese nationality was amended in 2015, in order to allow the recognition of Sephardic Jews as Portuguese citizens.

Since then, there have been thousands of descendants who, through proof of membership of a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin and their own Sephardic ancestry, have submitted their requests for naturalization to the Portuguese State and have been granted the corresponding nationality.

In fact, the significant increase in this type of request, the debate on the commodification of passports and the current international political situation have contributed to the Portuguese Government not being indifferent to the need to revise the requirements, thus precipitating the approval of the long-awaited Decree-Law that makes the fourth amendment to the Portuguese Nationality Regulation.

Although this new Regulation, published on March 18, revises and clarifies several other requirements and aspects for the granting of Portuguese nationality, the change to the acquisition by the Sephardic route is undoubtedly the most relevant, or at least the most impactful either by the increase in the requirement or by the reflection at the political-social level.

Thus, in addition to the previous requirements, such as:

  1. Be of legal age or emancipated under the Portuguese law;
  2. Not having been convicted, with final judgment of the sentence, in a prison sentence equal to or greater than three years, for a crime punishable under the Portuguese law;
  3. Not constitute a danger or threat to national security or defence, for its involvement in activities related to the practice of terrorism, in accordance with the respective law;

The applicant will now be required to:

  1. Demonstrate a tradition of belonging to a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin, based on proven objective requirements of connection to Portugal, namely surnames, family language, direct or collateral descent;
  2. Present a certificate or supporting document:
  3. i) Of the ownership, transmitted mortis causa, of real property rights located in Portugal, other personal rights of enjoyment or shareholdings in commercial companies or cooperatives based in Portugal; or (ii) of regular travels throughout the life of the applicant to Portugal; where such facts demonstrate an effective and lasting link to Portugal.

In addition, the Jewish community is also required to be a faithful depositary, for a period of 20 years, of the documents that served as the basis for the issuance of the certificate, which are digitalized and sent electronically to the Central Registry Office when submitting the request for the acquisition of Portuguese nationality.

The Central Registry Office may also request the Jewish community to send the documents referred to for its custody, and the Registrar may also request the presentation of the originals.

With regard to the application of the law in time, it should be noted that the provisions of Article 24a, which regulates naturalization by Sephardic ancestry, enters into force on 1 September 2022, and has not been given retroactive effect, that is, it is not applicable to processes that enter the Registry until 31 August 2022.

Thus, it is clear that the Portuguese legislature wanted a greater requirement as to the content and information to be considered by the Jewish community in issuing the corresponding certificates attesting to Sephardic descent, as well as the need to prove that the applicant has, in fact, a prior and lasting connection with the national territory.

Start typing and press Enter to search