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New changes to the Portuguese Nationality Law: find out what will change in 2018

31 de August, 2020

New changes to the Portuguese Nationality Law: find out what will change in 2018

Recall the revisions made to the Portuguese Nationality Law in 2018, aimed at simplifying citizenship requirements.
Reading: 6 min

Good news for those interested in obtaining Portuguese citizenship! After the changes to the Portuguese Nationality Law approved in 2018, the Law was recently revised by the country’s parliament. It was under discussion not only the simplification of requirements for grandchildren, spouses and companions of Portuguese, but also for children born in Portugal.

But relax, the new rules are not yet in force.

On 23 July these and other amendments concerning access to Portuguese citizenship by Parliament were adopted. Now the text goes for promulgation by the President of the Republic and, if there is no veto, the approved amendments should be regulated by the Government within 90 days from the date of their publication.

Anyway, it’s worth knowing in more detail the main changes that will probably come into effect very soon!

Changes in Portuguese Nationality Law: how it is today and what will change

1. Citizenship for grandchildren of Portuguese

What’s it like today?

Among the main requirements in order to obtain citizenship, the grandchildren of Portuguese must prove effective ties with Portugal. No doubt that today this requirement is the main responsible for the great majority of rejections of citizenship requests by grandchildren of Portuguese.

This is because the law deals in a subjective way with how such links should be analysed: it is the responsibility of the Government of Portugal to assess the relevance of such links, which include sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language and regular contacts with the national territory.

Although the law lists some situations that indicate these ties, such as legal residence in the country, ownership of real estate in Portugal for at least three years or the tie to Portuguese associations abroad, it is up to the judge’s final criterion to assess the relevance of these ties.

What will change?

Although the law still requires proof of an effective bond with the Portuguese community, the new version innovates by explaining only the command of the Portuguese language as proof of these bonds. Even the mention of regular contacts with the Portuguese territory for this purpose has been removed.

Therefore, for Brazilians, or natives of Portuguese-speaking countries, this change will certainly significantly facilitate the likelihood of approval of your application for Portuguese citizenship.

2. Citizenship for Spouses or Partners of Portuguese

What’s it like today?

Only spouses or partners of Portuguese citizens involved in a relationship for at least three years, whether married or in a stable union, known in Portugal as “de facto union”, are eligible for citizenship.

In the case of spouses, the marriage must also be recognised in advance in Portugal. In the case of partners, the stable union must be proven by a Portuguese court sentence, which makes the process even more difficult.

Additionally, in both cases it is necessary to prove the effective links with the Portuguese community, under penalty of rejection of the application for citizenship.

In this sense, the law foresees some objective hypotheses in which these bonds are assumed, such as 5 years of marriage or stable union with original Portuguese, or even the presence of original Portuguese children resulting from these relationships, being necessary that the applicant be natural and national of a Portuguese speaking country or fluent in Portuguese.

What will change?

In this field, legal changes also come to facilitate compliance with the necessary requirements for spouses or partners in the following sense:

1. Firstly, if the couple has children in common of Portuguese nationality, the general requirement concerning the duration of the marriage or stable union (3 years) will no longer be relevant. That is, even if they have less than 3 years of relationship it will be possible to apply for citizenship for those who have Portuguese children resulting from the relationship.

2. With regard to the stable union, if there are children in common in Portugal, judicial recognition of this relationship will not be necessary.

3. Finally, both for spouses and companions, it will not be necessary to prove effective ties with Portugal when there are common children of Portuguese nationality OR when the marriage takes place for more than 6 years. In these cases the bonds are presumed, i.e. automatically recognized.

These changes greatly enhance the viability of applications for Portuguese citizenship, whether by marriage or by stable union.

3. Citizenship for children of immigrants born in Portugal

What’s it like today?

Only children born in Portugal who have at least one parent as a legal resident in the country for at least 2 years are allowed Portuguese nationality.

Regarding nationality by naturalization (derived), it is also possible to obtain it to those born in Portugal in the following cases:

If one of your parents has been legally or illegally resident in Portugal for more than 5 years; or
If the minor has completed at least one cycle of basic education or secondary education in Portugal.

What will change?

Firstly, the children of foreigners born in Portugal will have the right to Portuguese citizenship if, at the time of their birth, one of the parents is legally resident in the Portuguese territory, or has been resident in the country regardless of the title for at least 1 year.

This amendment will reduce the time period previously required, reflecting the time criterion of one year which is used by both the United Nations and the European Union to distinguish immigration from other temporary movements of people and tourists.

In addition, the aforementioned amendment also opens space for those born in Portugal, children of immigrants, without legal residence in the country, but living there for at least 1 year, to also become Portuguese. This was not previously possible in this original way.

Regarding the possibility of citizenship by naturalization (derived), there was an increase in the possibilities for those born in Portugal to become Portuguese in this way:

  • If one of your parents has been resident, legal or illegal, in Portugal for more than 5 years, or
  • If one of the parents is legally resident in Portugal, regardless of the weather,or
  • If the minor has completed at least one year of pre-school education or basic, secondary or vocational education in the country.

4. Citizenship for descendants of Sephardic Jews

What’s it like today?

The Government may grant Portuguese nationality, by naturalization, to the descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews by demonstrating the tradition of belonging to a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin, based on proven objective requirements of connection to Portugal, namely surnames, family language, direct or collateral descent.

To this end, the main requirement to be presented is a Certificate, issued by the Oporto or Lisbon Jewish Community, attesting to the applicant’s Sephardic origin.

What will change?

Unfortunately, the adopted legal amendment text does not provide for facilitating the requirements for this category of stakeholders, on the contrary.

Although the possibility of granting citizenship to the descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews is maintained, there is a determination to better regulate this situation with a view to ensuring, at the time of application for citizenship, effective compliance with proven objective requirements for connection to Portugal.

Therefore, even if there is no clear forecast on how to prove these objective requirements, what is expected is an increase in the strictness for granting citizenship to descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews.

5. Another novelty

Another amendment approved by Parliament was to extend access to naturalization to persons born in Portugal between April 25, 1974 and 1981 (the year in which the current Portuguese Nationality Law was enacted). This aims to solve a historical problem linked to the independence of the former Portuguese colonies by adjusting the situation of people who in 1974 found themselves deprived of their Portuguese nationality because they had lived in the country for less than 5 years.

As mentioned, these amendments are not yet in force, but it is hoped that they will be finally adopted soon. No doubt they will be of great value especially to grandchildren, spouses, companions and children born in Portugal, daughters of immigrants.

Therefore, if you are part of one of these categories benefited by the changes in the Portuguese Nationality Law and want more information, please contact us or continue following our publications.

*The information contained in this Article shall be provided in a general and abstract manner and shall not replace consultation and qualified professional assistance addressed to the specific case. The content of this article may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the express permission of the author.

Article published on the Euro Dicas website: https://www.eurodicas.com.br/alteracoes-lei-da-nacionalidade-portuguesa/

Author: Roberta Fraser
Citizenship & Immigration

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