Amendments to the Portuguese Nationality Law – Descendants of Sephardic Jews

 In Citizenship and passports, Immigration/Emigration, News, Passports

The Portuguese Parliament has recently approved a number of amendments to the Portuguese Nationality Law, in particular with regard to the requirements that allow descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews to obtain Portuguese nationality.

According to the amendments approved by Parliament, descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews will only be required to be resident in Portugal for a minimum of 3 years, consecutive or not, and to demonstrate that they belong to a Portuguese origin Sephardic community, in order to acquire Portuguese nationality say Ana Paula Ferreira and Patrícia Cabriz, both associates at CCA Law Firm‘s Private Clients Department.
As such, if the amendments approved by Parliament are enacted by the President of the Republic and become effective, applicants will no longer be required to prove ownership transmitted by succession of rights in rem over real estate located in Portugal, other personal rights of use, or shares in Portuguese-based commercial or cooperative companies. The submission of documents demonstrating regular trips to Portugal throughout the applicant’s life that attest to an effective and lasting connection to Portugal will also no longer be required.
On the other hand, according to the amendments approved by Parliament, those who applied after 1 September 2022 and whose applications are still pending will be afforded one more alternative to meet the requirements. That is, such applicants will also be able to obtain Portuguese nationality as long as they have held a residence permit for more than 1 year. It is worth pointing out that the previous regime required applicants to prove either the ownership, transmitted by succession of specific rights, or an effective and lasting connection to Portugal. However, those applicants whose applications are still pending will now be granted another alternative – to hold a residence permit for more than 1 year.
However, as a result of the amendments approved by Parliament, new applicants will be required to prove that they have been legally residing in Portugal for at least 3 years. That could render many new applications unfeasible and, in a way, undermine the whole point of the regime. In fact, up until now, descendants of Sephardic Jews were not required to hold a residence permit in order to obtain Portuguese nationality – they were only required to prove their origins and link to Portugal. Consequently, although this amendment is meant to streamline and make the analysis of each case less arbitrary, the truth is that it somewhat disregards the very essence of the regime, and it makes it similar to that governing residence-based nationality, simply reducing the residence period from 5 to 3 years.
The additional possibility afforded to applicants whose applications are currently pending is commendable, as it will certainly allow those who had a pending application but did not meet the previous legal requirements to be granted Portuguese nationality.
For now, we must wait for the decision of the President of the Republic, who can either enact or reject the amendments to the Nationality Law approved by Parliament.