Descendants of Sephardic Jews: the Latest Change to the Legal Regime
By Sara Sousa Rebolo, Portugal Immigration Lawyer
Decree-Law №26/2022 of March 18, which will come into force on September 1, 2022, imposes new rules for granting this nationality.
The Decree-Law nº30-A/2015 of February 27 made it possible to award Portuguese nationality, by naturalization, to the descendants of Sephardic Jews.
Under the terms of this decree-law, Sephardic Jews are those who descended from ancient and traditional Jewish communities in the Iberian Peninsula.
When the law came into effect, the following requirements were established to grant the Portuguese nationality to descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews:
- They must be of age or emancipated according to Portuguese law;
- They must not have been convicted of a crime punishable by a prison sentence of three years or more, with the sentence becoming final and unappealable;
- They must not constitute a danger or threat to national security or defence by their involvement in activities related to the practice of terrorism;
- A certificate issued by the Jewish community, rooted in Portugal, attesting to the tradition of belonging to a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin, based on proven objective requirements of connection to Portugal, namely, the applicant’s surname, family language, genealogy, and family memory must be provided.
However, motivated by suspicions of irregularities in issuing the certificates for such applications, the Portuguese authorities decided to tighten the requirements for granting the nationality to the descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews.
Thus, Decree-Law nº26/2022, of March 18, imposes, in addition to the requirements mentioned above, the submission of a certificate or other supporting document that establishes:
- the ownership, transmitted mortis causa, of property rights over real estate located in Portugal, or rights of a similar nature, or shares in commercial or cooperative companies based in Portugal; or
- regular trips to Portugal throughout the applicant’s life; when such facts demonstrate an effective and lasting connection to Portugal.
As of September 1, 2022, when the new rules for attribution of this nationality come into force, applicants must comply with the general requirements applicable to all Portuguese nationality applications and the formalities mentioned above.
As a result, such processes will be less complex if they are initiated by applicants before September 2022.
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