According to data from the Institute of Registries and Notaries (IRN) sent to Lusa by the Ministry of Justice, between September 1, 2022 and July 31, 2023, 74,297 requests for naturalization from descendants of Sephardic Jews entered the registry services, despite the new framework that requires proof of “regular travel throughout life” or inheritance, when “such facts demonstrate an effective and lasting connection to Portugal”.

On the other hand, the requirements for the absence of conviction to a prison sentence equal to or greater than three years and the demonstration of “circumstances that determine the tradition of belonging to a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin, namely family surnames, language family, direct descent or family relationship in the collateral line of a common progenitor from the Sephardic community”.

The volume of requests will also be related to the diploma presented by the Government in April, which foresees the end of this nationality granting regime for December 2023, as it is understood that “the purpose of historical reparation” that gave rise to the law has been fulfilled. The revocation does not affect the analysis of applications for granting Portuguese nationality submitted in this way “until December 31, 2023”.

The applications for obtaining nationality by descendants of Sephardic Jews that were rejected since the change in rules and until July of this year did not exceed 289, with the IRN explaining that there were 272 applications rejected in 2022. Between 2015 and 2021 there were only 300 of these requests were rejected.

In relation to 2022, 124,663 naturalization requests were received under the rules for descendants of Sephardic Jews, more than double that of 2021, when 50,407 requests were received.

More demanding rules

The adoption of more demanding rules was announced in March last year, with the regulation of the nationality law two years later than expected, but the six-month period before the changes came into force led to complaints about the daily presentation of thousands of applications. The 2022 total almost equalled the number of requests made under this regime between 2015 and 2021, a period in which 137,087 requests were registered.

The IRN also stated that in 2022 “18,121 requests for the acquisition of Portuguese nationality were granted, with birth records drawn up,” under this regime, that is, almost a third of the 56,685 that were granted in the previous seven years of this law being in force.

Requests for naturalization from descendants of Sephardic Jews represented 72% of requests for granting Portuguese nationality in 2021, but the IRN assumed that it was not yet possible to calculate the weight in relation to 2022, “because work is ongoing with a view to confirming and approval of statistical data from that same year”.