After the expulsion of Spanish Jews in 1492, many of the Jews moved to neighbor Portugal, but after about four years they were deported again along with the rest of the Jews living in the country. In 2015, following the change in the Spanish Citizenship Law allowing the descendants of Spanish citizens to obtain citizenship, Portugal's parliament decided to let the descendants of Jews who had fled the country following the Great Deportation to receive citizenship from the state to remedy the injustice caused to the deportees.
Many Israelis who meet the entry requirements for citizenship from Portugal have discovered that there is a problem in removing Portuguese citizenship for children, so until recently, many people chose the Spanish procedure, which is considered more complicated and lukewarm, but convenient for citizenship. In April 2017 the Portuguese legislator added an amendment to the Citizenship Law that allows the filing of a request for Portuguese citizenship for children up to the age of 18 when the new amendment effectively allows citizenship to be granted to minors without the need to prove a current connection.
Amendment to the Spanish Jews Law
As noted, until the amendment of the law called in Portugal "Spanish Jews Law" was referring only to the descendants of the adult deportees but not minors. Therefore, anyone wishing to obtain Portuguese citizenship had to choose between two main options:
Wait until the children reach the age of 18 and then apply for citizenship from the state.
To prove an existing and contemporary affinity of the children to Portugal, for example through proofs such as contemporary residence in the country, studies, language acquisition, etc.
Following the new amendment to the Citizenship Law in the State of Portugal, it is now possible to obtain a Portuguese passport for children, after the completion of the stage of obtaining citizenship from the state. It is worth noting that this is a European passport in every way, so it offers many advantages, such as the possibility to live and work in Portugal and other EU countries while receiving full social benefits just like any other citizen in the country.
The amendment allows the minor parents who have a connection to Portugal and the Jewish culture that is characteristic of the country's Jewry to submit a request for citizenship from the state on behalf of the minor, even if the parent does not wish to apply for citizenship. Of course, all the requirements of the law must be met. All the relevant documents must be attached, just like the documents required to obtain citizenship for an adult, including a birth certificate that links the minor to the applicant and the parent with the right to local citizenship.
It is worth knowing that the Portuguese legislator, unlike the Spanish legislature, granted extensive powers to the heads of the Jewish community in the country. The request for citizenship is first submitted to the leaders of the large Jewish communities in Portugal who have the authority to examine the application and make a decision on the subject. Therefore, it is necessary to prove a direct connection and blood connection to descendants of Portuguese deportees as well as to the tradition of Portuguese Jewry.
However, it should be noted that despite the change in the Spanish Jews law in Portugal, the regulations relating to the law have not yet been amended, and therefore the change in regulation may take several more years. Consequently, it is recommended to contact the experts to decide how to act and whether to submit the application based on the amendment to the law or to act otherwise.