From 2025, Jewish descendants will only have to live in Portugal for three years to acquire nationality. Proceedings to be suspended for citizens subject to EU and UN sanctions

PS extends rules for Sephardic Jews until the end of 2024 and creates evaluation commission
The current special regime for acquiring Portuguese nationality for descendants of Sephardic Jews on the basis of historical connection and ownership will end on December 31, 2024. However, a special rule will be created according to which these citizens can have privileged access to Portuguese nationality by living in national territory for three years, instead of the five years required of any other foreigner.

This is one of the changes to the nationality law that the PS is expected to approve this Thursday in the Constitutional Affairs Committee. According to the preliminary draft of the replacement text that the Socialists have submitted, in order to avoid new abuses such as those that occurred with the Israeli Community of Porto, which made several million euros in the certification processes for nationality applications, an evaluation commission will be created which will be responsible for the “final approval” of the “certification of the demonstration of a tradition of belonging to a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin based on proven objective requirements of connection to Portugal”.

The commission will be appointed by the head of the Justice portfolio and will include representatives of the relevant departments, researchers or professors at higher education institutions in Sephardic studies and representatives of Jewish communities living in Portugal.

Another rule that tightens the noose on these processes is the mandatory suspension of the process of acquiring nationality “for as long as the person concerned is the recipient of restrictive measures approved by the UN or the European Union”. The aim is to close the door to cases, for example, of Russian tycoons who are the target of sanctions due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and who apply for Portuguese nationality so that they can continue to move freely around the Schengen area. Roman Abramovich, who obtained Portuguese nationality in April 2021, is the biggest name, but, for example, Alexander Kaplan, a Russian oligarch close to Putin and the target of international sanctions, has been waiting three years for his process to end and has already been certified by the Israeli Community of Porto.

The Socialists are also taking the opportunity to iron out some general issues in the nationality law. In the criteria for granting nationality, in addition to no longer accepting citizens who represent a”danger or threat to nationalsecurity or defence” through involvement in activities related to terrorism, “violent, especially violent or highly organized crime” is now added.

It will now be possible, “for the purposes of verifying the reliability of the data submitted in the nationality process”, to collect biometric data from the interested parties, such as facial image, fingerprints and height.

The current law states that “only filiation established during minority produces effects in relation to nationality”, but the PS wants to open the door to exceptional cases, allowing people of legal age to be granted original Portuguese nationality if their filiation occurs following a judicial process, after the sentence has become final, and the request has to be made within a maximum of three years.

These new rules are expected to come into force in January next year.


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