In June 2015, some 500 years after the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, the Spanish Parliament approved the change in the Spanish Citizenship Law allowing the descendants of Spanish exiles from 1492 to apply for citizenship. The new law was designed to correct the injustice caused to Jews expelled from Spain following the decision of King Fernando II and to allow the descendants of the deportees to obtain Spanish citizenship, as long as they succeed in proving blood ties to the deportees and direct connection to Spain and its culture.
The steps in obtaining Spanish citizenship
Stage 1 - Proof of Blood Connection to Spanish Expatriates - Proof of family name of Spanish origin is important proof under the new law but is not enough. There is considerable confusion about this issue, so it is worth knowing that the Spanish authorities have not published a recent list of surnames. It is possible to prove the existence of the blood connection to the deportees of Spain through genealogical research, based on family names, the authorization of Merav or the Jewish community in Spain, and relevant documents which must be translated into Spanish and attached to the application (eg marriage certificate, ketubah, birth certificate).
Stage 2 - proof of Spanish language proficiency - The applicant must pass a Spanish language proficiency test. The test can be given at the Cervantes Institute, located in Tel Aviv. It is recommended to register for Spanish studies. Language studies experts claim that it takes at least 9 months to pass the test.
Step 3 - Real contact and direct contact with Spain - The applicant for Spanish citizenship must prove a genuine connection to the country and its culture, for example by proving frequent visits to Spain, real estate investments in the country, studies in Spain, or trade relations with Spanish companies.
Step 4 - A Test of Familiarity with the Spanish Constitution and Culture - A test of familiarity with Spain's culture and constitution must be successfully passed. The test includes questions in history, heritage, culture, constitution, Spanish legislatures and more.
Step 5 - Certificate of Integrity from the Police - A certificate of integrity from the Israel Police must be attached to the application to prove that the applicant has no serious criminal record.
Step 6 - Investigation by a Spanish notary - must be physically arrived in Spain to undergo an investigation by a Spanish notary.
How long and how much does it cost?
The process of obtaining citizenship from the State of Spain takes at least a year because of the complexity of the subject and the bureaucracy involved in obtaining citizenship and then the Spanish passport. It is important to know that the application can be submitted up to three years from the date of the change in the Spanish law. However, it is likely that the Spanish authorities will extend the time of applying in another year.
The costs of the procedure vary according to the fees charged by lawyers in Israel and Spain. The price of attorneys and professionals handling the request is usually € 1,000 to € 3,500, sometimes even more. The Spanish Jewish Federation's fee is 100 Euros. The Spanish Notary costs about 1,000 NIS. The cost of the translation by a sworn translator is several hundred shekels per document. Also, the costs of genealogy research must be calculated to prove the connection to the deportees from Spain. The price of a genealogical opinion is several thousand shekels.
In addition to these costs, the costs of a language test, about NIS 400, must be weighed for a Spanish language course at the cost of several thousand shekels, and of course the cost of flying, accommodation, lodging, food, etc. in Spain.
Citizenship is granted for life and can be transferred to children. A Spanish passport is valid for some years and must be renewed just like in Israel.
What are the benefits of obtaining Spanish citizenship?
Spanish citizenship is an entry ticket to the European Union. It provides many benefits such as full social benefits like the rest of Spain and the European Union, automatic visa to the US, free or low-cost studies at the best educational institutions in Europe, free passage between EU countries, Establishing a business, concealing Israeli identity in order to maintain trade relations with countries without any connection with Israel, voting rights and more.