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Sephardic Jews Can Start Applying for Return to Portugal


Both Portugal and Spain recently announced that they would allow Jews who can prove that their ancestors were expelled from those nations at the end of the 15th Century to apply for a right of return of sorts and to become citizens. The Jewish Community of Oporto, Portugal, has already begun the process.

Since both Spain and Portugal are members of the European Union, citizenship in either nation is a precious commodity. A Jew from anywhere in the world who obtains it will have the right to reside and work in any of the EU member states and eventually apply there for naturalized citizenship, depending on the nation’s laws.

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On July 3, 2013, the Portuguese Parliament approved the bill, amending the Nationality Law that allows descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews to apply for Portuguese nationality. The bill was introduced by Maria de Belem Roseira (President of the Socialist Party) and was approved unanimously in the Portuguese Parliament.

The Jewish Community of Oporto is evaluating the applications of people claiming to be descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews and for this reason claim a right to Portuguese nationality. According to the Portuguese Regulation of the Nationality Law, which will be approved in the coming weeks, 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.

Since December 15th, 2014, the Jewish Community of Oporto has been receiving requests from descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews who wish to obtain a certificate issued by the Portuguese Jewish Community attesting this status. The requests, it says, should be addressed by digital means to the following email address: An applicant should include all of the supporting documentary evidence as may be required for a proper evaluation of the matter and decision.

Evidence of the applicant’s family history of connection to a Sephardic Community of Portuguese origin may be direct or circumstantial.

Now the Regulation of the Nationality Law is finished. It may take days or weeks to get published but the candidates certification needs to start now, because the majority of cases will take a long time.



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