Portugal and Spain to Correct a Moral Wrong with
Offer of Citizenship to Descendants of Sephardic Jews
Portugal recently passed legislation to grant citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews show can show their name is of the families expelled in 1496. Draft legislation in Spain is expected to pass in 2015.
In 1496, King Manuel of Portugal, forcibly converted the Jews of Portugal, most of whom had come to Portugal as a result of the Spanish Expulsion in 1492 by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella. It is estimated that about more than half of the Jews expelled from Spain ended up in Portugal.
More than 500 years later, both Spain and Portugal are in the midst of passing legislation that would offer citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews. Neither country has passed the law, but steps are in place to begin accepting applications.
“The new legislation corrects a moral wrong. The long centuries of anti-Semitism in Portugal and the expulsions decreed by King D. Manuel I in 1496 cannot be denied,” said Deborah Elijah, a member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Community of Oporto (Portugal). She is also member of the Committee of the Jewish Community of Oporto which issues Certificates.
In anticipation, the Jewish communities of both countries are offering guidelines on applications. The governments both want a certificate from the Jewish community before considering the application. Applicants do not need to be Jewish.
The Nationality Law of Portugal establishes that the Government may grant Portuguese nationality to the descendants [Jews or non-Jews] of Portuguese Sephardic Jews, based on objective requirements of a connection with Portugal, such as surnames or family language.
There are 3 steps to obtaining Portuguese Nationality and a Passport
Step 1: The applicant for Portuguese Nationality must first obtain a Certificate from the Portuguese Jewish Community which attests to his/her ties to a Sephardic Jewish Community of Portuguese origin. A request for this Certificate must be addressed to the Jewish Community of Oporto or to the Jewish Community of Lisbon.
Payment of the Committee’s fee to review the request, in the amount of €150 (one hundred and fifty euros), must be made by bank transfer to the account of the Jewish Community of Oporto. For more information, please visit: http://jewishcommunityofoporto.blogspot.pt/
The email address email@example.com may not be used to ask for clarifications or questions of any type. The Committee of the Jewish Community of Oporto shall only evaluate requests and attached documents, as in legal proceedings, but it may ask the candidate questions by email or telephone.
Once the certificate is issued, the applicant fills out an application for Portuguese Nationality and for obtaining a Portuguese Passport.
Please visit the official website or blog of the Jewish Community of Oporto - http://jewishcommunityofoporto.blogspot.pt/2014_12_01_archive.html.
In Portugal, the Jewish Community of Oporto, founded 90 years ago, is the organization that unites local communal groups of the city of Oporto and its environs, while the Jewish Community of Lisbon, recognized 102 years ago, is the organization that unites local communal groups of Lisbon and its environs. (For more information about the Portuguese communities, please visit the website of the World Jewish Congress - http://www.worldjewishcongress.org/en/communities/show/id/109)
Spanish Sephardic that can demonstrate such condition and a special link with Spain may be eligible to seek Spanish Citizenship, even if they are not legal residents in Spain and without obliging them to give up their current citizenship.
Eligibility can be demonstrated by means of:
Applicants must also pass a special test of the applicant skills regarding Spanish language and Culture. The culture test will be developed by the Cervantes Institute, which promotes Spanish language and culture abroad.
Sephardic surnames are an additional mean of evidence, but not a crucial one. Applicants must file an application within three years after the enactment of the new law.
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