Elusive passport: Portugal makes it harder for Jews seeking EU citizenship

Under the new legislation, Jewish individuals who are descendants of those expelled from Spain will be required not just to demonstrate connections to Portugal, but also to reside in the country for a minimum period of three years

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has formally ratified a law that presents heightened challenges for Jews who are descended from those expelled from Spain to secure Portuguese citizenship. Under the new legislation, those applying for Portuguese citizenship must not only demonstrate a link to Portugal but also commit to a minimum three-year residency in the country.
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Three weeks ago, when the law was greenlit by the parliament, the president declined to endorse it, forwarding it to the Constitutional Court for scrutiny due to concern about its legality. These concerns came after a family of an Israeli kidnapped by Hamas attempted to accelerate a citizenship application in the hope that it could contribute to the release of the hostage held in Gaza. After the examination, the Constitutional Court several days ago validated the law, asserting its constitutionality, which eventually led to the Portuguese president's endorsement.
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The coveted Portuguese passport
The coveted Portuguese passport
The coveted Portuguese passport
(Photo: shutterstock)
In Israel and the broader Jewish community, there was a presumption that the Portuguese president might delay the enforcement of the law until after parliamentary elections slated for March, deferring the final verdict to the new parliament. The new law implies that the path to Portuguese citizenship will now become significantly more arduous for Jews and Israelis. The law was already revised due to the case of oligarch Roman Abramovich, who was under suspicion of unlawfully achieving citizenship in the country. However, a comprehensive probe by Portuguese authorities found no evidence of any impropriety by the Jewish community in Porto that managed Abramovich's citizenship issue.
Attorney Yoni Yadid, an expert in securing Portuguese citizenship, said that applicants who initiated their Portuguese citizenship process from September 2022 onward would be subject to the new rules, that appear to contradict the constitution and diverge from the early spirit of the citizenship law.
"In light of the extensive promotion by Israeli and Turkish firms for granting Portuguese citizenship, it appears the Portuguese have had enough. Their self-esteem was affected as Portuguese citizenship was depicted as a commodity. It's crucial to highlight that the law doesn't impact minors and spouse procedures, but restrictions may be imposed," he said.
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