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.

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