Portuguese passport

Portugal accelerates applications for Portuguese nationality by descendants of Sephardic Jews

Pending applications being fast tracked due to conflict in Middle East

Just as the Nationality Law open to descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled from Portugal over 500 years ago is close to an expiry date, the country is working hard to expedite pending applications.

Say media reports today, the Minister for Justice has “refused” to reveal the number of people waiting for Portuguese citizenship, but she has stressed that, “in their generality”, the processing of requests will be “accelerated”.

The atrocities that took place on October 7 in southern Israel claimed the lives of a number of Luso-Israelis (people who had already received Portuguese nationality under the Nationality Law), and it is understood that various hostages held by Hamas in Gaza are among applicants for the scheme.

One, Ofer Calderon, has already seen his application ‘granted’ as he is held captive with his two children – the hope being that this dual-nationality may increase his chances of  being released among the many foreigners caught up in this drama.

As justice minister Catarina Sarmento e Castro said today “the only thing that the Ministry of Justice (MJ) can say is that it will always be on the side of fundamental rights”.

The process of expediting applications is being conducted by the Institute of Registries and Notaries (IRN), in consultation with various entities. It is “still very bureaucratic, still on paper, but this will be changed by the end of the year, with a move to digitising the whole process and using artificial intelligence to help speed things up even further, said the minister.

Israelionline, israelnationalnews, wrote last month that “more Israelis” than any other foreign group applied for Portuguese citizenship over the past two years, “even though few choose to actually live” here.

The article claims 60,000 Israelis had Portuguese citizenship in 2022, with only a little over 500 actually living here. The naturalisation process has been seen by applicants as a potential ‘Plan B’ “in case things in Israel turn for the worst”…ND