Portuguese nationality requests have reached a seven year record

Translated from the original in Portuguese found here

The number of requests to obtain Portuguese nationality has reached the highest value of the last seven years in 2016, totaling 35,416, according to the Annual Report of Internal Safety data (ARIS).

The 2016 report informs that of 35,416 requests to obtain Portuguese nationality, the Immigration and Borders Service has issued 27,155 decisions on the matter, 26,061 were positive and 1,094 negative.

The report indicates that the citizens who requested Portuguese nationality last year were mainly from Brazil (10,063), Cape Verde (3,126), Ukraine (2,352), Turkey (1,704) and Angola (1,470).

There are also a requests from Guinea Bissau (1,406), India (925), Israel (891) Sao Tomé and Principe (832), Moldavia (498), Romania (367), Pakistan (317), Russia (296), Nepal (268) and Mozambique (266).

The significant increase of Portuguese nationality requests made by citizens from Israel and Turkey is related to the regulation of Portuguese nationality of foreigners who are descendants from Portuguese Sephardic Jews.

According to ARIS, most of requests are related to the acquisition of nationality by naturalization (70%) and through marriage or more than three years partnership with a Portuguese citizen (14%).

Most of requests made through marriage concern native people from Brazil (2,015), Cape Verde (381), Guinea-Bissau (233), India (216) and Moldavia (132).

The report indicates that “the number of negative information has increased for the past two years as a result of more requests made by the Central Registry Office investigate regarding the existence or not of marriages of convenience or fraudulent marriages as a  way of acquiring Portuguese nationality”.


British Sephardic Jews request Portuguese nationality

About 400 Sephardic Jews are requesting Portuguese nationality. Almost all requests arrived after the Brexit results. Most want to keep a European passport and the freedom of movement.

The Brexit referendum planted the seeds of uncertainty among the British Sephardi Jews. “Up until the Brexit referendum we had only 5 requests, which is understandable because at that time the British had European Union passports, and didn’t need the Portuguese passport, except for emotional reasons”.
There is an emotional motivation, but in most cases, the Sephardi Jews that want the Portuguese passport only want to make sure that they will be able to move freely in the European Union after the Brexit. The Jewish community in Porto have about 400 requests for the certification needed to ask for Portuguese nationality.
“Nowadays, people in the United Kingdom, and in other countries of the European Union,
they see themselves as European first and don’t want to lose that part of their identity”.
The Sephardi Jews have to prove first that they are really Sephardi, and then that they have a connection to Portugal. “
Usually through their Rabi, through their communities, they can prove that they are Sephardi.
Then, the connection to Portugal is many times established through their family tree, their parents and grandparents, etc. Sometimes because they speak Ladino, which is a Spanish-Portuguese medieval Jewish language that is still spoken in some places in the world”.
The British Sephardi community is trying to take advantage of the 2015 law that allows. the descendants of the Jews that were thrown out of the country over 500 years ago to ask for Portuguese citizenship.

British Jews ask for Portuguese citizenship to gain freedom of movement across the EU

More than five hundred British Jews ask for Portuguese citizenship after the Brexit referendum, using a Portuguese law destined to make historic justice to get a free pass for the European Union.

They are descendent of the Sephardim, who were expelled from the country 500 years ago or had run away from the inquisition.

The Iberian origins are just one of the reasons that led Pippa Hyam to ask for Portuguese citizenship.
“We decided to apply following the vote in the UK to leave the European Union. We, the family, we were very upset about this, we very unhappy about that decision and so we realized that this was an opportunity for us to retain EU citizenship”.
She lives in London, where she was born, just like her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.
It has been more than five hundred years since leaving Portugal. She’s a descendant of the Sephardic Jews expelled by King Manuel.
“A relative of mine has done a family tree for our family and were able to trace the family back to Iraq and Syria where a lot Sephardic Jews went after they left Portugal”.
Pippa’s request is just one of the many that arrived in the Jewish community of Porto and Lisbon.
The law that seeks to restore justice to Jews who fled religious persecution has been in existence for two years, but British requests only began to arrive after June last year.
The law seeks to restore justice. More than 500 Sephardim descendants asked for Portuguese citizenship after the referendum.
To Jews who fled religious persecution, the law has been in existence for two years, but British requests only began to arrive after June last year.
“The difference is dramatic and so prior to the referendum we only had 5 requests for certification from British Sephardim. After the referendum we had about 500. They didn’t do it before because before the referendum it had no practical benefits but now it will have”.
The Ministry of Justice has approved all cases submitted by the Jewish communities.
It takes about a year to deliberate.
For the British, more important than resolving injustices of the past, it is about preventing the future.
“Jews throughout history have always risked expulsion. In the 21st century. it is possible through a European passport to have several citizenships which gives access to live in many countries and this achieved, is a plan B for British Jews”.
Pippa wants to be Portuguese, but living in Portugal is not in her plans.
“Certainly, but no plans at the moment. I never say never”.
Pippa thanks the Portuguese government for the historic repair which can now mean free movement in the European Community.

My Portuguese passport

In September I received my Portuguese citizenship. Due to the waiting list in The Portuguese consulate in Tel Aviv, it was apparent that getting the passport in Lisbon would be easier.

Last week I got my passport in Lisbon. Here it is!

For those who can’t wait for their local consulate, I recommend a service of assistance in getting things done in Lisbon. It takes 3 days. Email me for details at yoram@zaralaw.pt for more information

Portuguese nationality attributed to 431 descendants of Jews expelled from Portugal

Translation from the original in Portuguese published 6 February 2017 here

More than 5,500 Sephardic Jews have applied for Portuguese nationality, and 431 have obtained it since the entry into force of legislation allowing the attribution of nationality to this community in 2015, according to official data.

In 2016 alone, Sephardic Jews made 5,100 applications for nationality with origins in Portugal, and 431 people were granted nationality, according to data from the Central Registry of Lisbon.

Last year, Portuguese nationality was granted to 271 Turks, 81 Israelis and 48 Brazilians descended from Portuguese Sephardic Jews.

It was also attributed to five Sephardic Jews from Panama, five from the United States, and five from South Africa, as well as four citizens from Serbia and four from Argentina.

Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Canada, Australia, Spain, Russia, Colombia and France respectively had a nationality attributed to their citizens.

Sephardic Jews of Portuguese origin in Turkey lead the list of nationality applications submitted to the Portuguese authorities in 2016, with 2,103 applications, followed again by the Israelis (2,021) and the Brazilians (470).

People from a diverse list of other countries have already submitted applications for Portuguese nationality, such as Greece, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, the Dominican Republic, Cape Verde, Tunisia, Morocco, among others.

Between March and December 2015, the year in which the decree-law that allowed the right to nationality to Sephardic Jews came into force, 466 applications were handed over to the responsible authorities in Portugal, but no proceedings were finalized that year, according to the Conservatory of the Central Registries of Lisbon.

Also in 2015, it was the Turkish citizens who handed in the majority of requests for Portuguese nationality (212), followed by Israelis (149) and Brazilians (48).

In that year, the attribution of nationality by naturalization to the descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled from Portugal from the fifteenth century onwards, after King Manuel I signed in 1496 a decree obligating the Jews to convert to Christianity or to leave Portugal.

In April 2013, the parliament approved an amendment to the Nationality Law, which provided for the granting of nationality by naturalization to descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews, and in July of that year the law was published, which should have been regulated within a 90 days.

However, it was not until the end of August 2014 that the Ministry of Justice presented to the Jewish communities in Lisbon and Porto a draft decree-law for regulation.

The Portuguese Government approved the decree-law that regulated the granting of Portuguese nationality, by naturalization, to descendants of Sephardic Jews in January 2015.

The decree-law was promulgated by the then President “Aníbal Cavaco Silva” and gazetted in the official government newspaper, “Diário da República” at the end of February 2015, coming into force on March 1 of that year.

The Portuguese legislation provides that candidates for nationality must submit a list of documents, including proof of there Jewish ancestry, a certificate to issued by the Jewish Community of Porto (CIP) or the Jewish Community of Lisbon (CIL), which in turn have received thousands of certificate requests.

Like Portugal, Spain has also passed a law that attributes Spanish nationality to the descendants of Sephardic Jews who were expelled in 1492, and the bill came into force on October 1, 2015.