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Portuguese Nationality: Acquisition through Great-Grandparents

13 de July, 2023

Portuguese Nationality: Acquisition through Great-Grandparents

Great-grandchildren or great-great-grandchildren of Portuguese nationals may be entitled to Portuguese nationality, provided that the closest relative first obtains it.
Reading: 7 min

Do you have Portuguese great-grandparents or great-great-grandparents and are excited about the possibility of obtaining your Portuguese nationality? Then this article is perfect for you! The current Nationality Law does not provide for the attribution of Portuguese nationality to great-grandchildren of Portuguese citizens, as it explicitly does for children or grandchildren. Therefore, the fact of having a Portuguese great-grandparent or great-great-grandparent does not, by itself, entitle you to apply for Portuguese citizenship through this route.

But all hope is not lost! Discover how you can be eligible for Portuguese citizenship through closer family ties and specific conditions.

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How can a great-grandchild of a Portuguese citizen obtain Portuguese citizenship?

To apply for Portuguese citizenship as a great-grandchild, one of your parents or grandparents (child or grandchild of the Portuguese citizen) must first obtain Portuguese citizenship.

In this way, a direct line of descent will be established, and you will have the right to request your Portuguese citizenship.

However, it is important to note that the applicant for Portuguese citizenship must be alive. It is not possible to apply for citizenship on behalf of a deceased relative. This may limit the viability of obtaining citizenship for some great-grandchildren.

How many generations is Portuguese citizenship possible for?

According to the Portuguese Nationality Law, it is possible to apply for citizenship directly only up to the second generation (grandchild). In other words, it is not possible to “skip” two generations. However, as explained above, if the citizenship applicants are alive, it can be transmitted without a limit on generations, provided that all of them meet the requirements established by the law.

Nationality for grandchildren is easier

Currently, requests for Portuguese citizenship for grandchildren still require proof of an effective connection of the applicants with Portugal. However, with the most recent legal changes, knowledge of the Portuguese language is already interpreted as a link and, therefore, sufficient for this proof.

In other words, for those who are born in a member country of the CPLP (Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries), the acquisition of Portuguese nationality for grandchildren just got easier. And therefore, these legal changes also benefit great-grandchildren.

For those who do not speak Portuguese, the most viable alternative is still to request nationality from the son of a Portuguese citizen, passing it on through generations, until the great-grandson is born. This is because children of Portuguese speakers are not subject to proof of ties (and are also exempt from the Portuguese language proficiency test). Once again, we emphasize that, for this to happen, all applicants must be alive.

Portuguese citizenship for spouses: how to apply.

portuguese citizenship for great-grandson

Is it possible to pass on this citizenship to descendants?

Yes! After obtaining Portuguese citizenship as a great-grandchild, it will be possible to pass it on to descendants. This is because current Portuguese legislation allows grandchildren to obtain Portuguese citizenship through direct attribution. Previously, a grandchild could only acquire Portuguese citizenship through naturalization, meaning they become Portuguese citizens, but could not pass it on subsequently. It is important to verify how the grandfather obtained citizenship. If it was as a grandchild, when it was derived (before the change in the law in 2015), it will still be necessary to first convert the grandfather’s nationality. Only then can the process continue for the great-grandchild.

Portuguese citizenship for a great-grandchild with a deceased grandfather: Is it possible?

If the family’s great-grandfather had Portuguese nationality, but the son of this great-grandfather (i.e., the grandfather of the individual interested) has passed away, it is still possible to seek Portuguese citizenship. In this case, the direct descendant of the deceased grandfather can apply for Portuguese citizenship based on being the grandchild of the mentioned Portuguese great-grandfather. Confused? See the practical example below!

Portuguese Citizenship for Great-grandchildren: Case studies

As an example, let’s think about the following family:

  • Antônio (Portuguese);
  • Beto (Son of the Portuguese);
  • Ricardo (Portuguese’s grandson);
  • Sara (Portuguese’s great-granddaughter).

In this context, Sara (great-granddaughter of a Portuguese man) would like to obtain Portuguese nationality.

Context 1 – Grandfather and Father Alive

Beto and Ricardo, respectively the Portuguese’s son and grandson, are alive and wish to obtain nationality:

Beto makes the application for nationality, as the son of Portuguese (Antonio). The request is successful:

Ricardo makes the application for nationality, but now as son of Portuguese (Beto). His request is successful:

Sara then makes her application for nationality, now also as the daughter of a Portuguese (Ricardo)!

Therefore, Sara did not obtain nationality because she was a great-granddaughter, but because she became the daughter of a Portuguese man.

Context 2 – Deceased Grandfather and Living Father

Beto, the Portuguese man’s son, is already deceased, but Ricardo, the Portuguese man’s grandson, is alive, speaks fluent Portuguese (he is Brazilian!), and wishes to acquire nationality:

Ricardo applies for nationality as the grandson of a Portuguese man (Antonio). His request is successful:

Sara then makes her request, already now as the daughter of Portuguese (Ricardo)!

Again, Sara did not obtain nationality because she was a great-granddaughter, but because she became the daughter of a Portuguese man.

Context 3 – Living Grandfather and Deceased Father

Beto, the Portuguese man’s son, is alive and wishes to acquire nationality. However, Ricardo, the Portuguese’s grandson, is already deceased. In addition, Sara, a great-granddaughter, is fluent in Portuguese:

Beto applies for nationality as the son of Portuguese (Antônio). The request is successful:

Sara then makes her application, already now as the granddaughter of Portuguese (Beto).

In this case, Sara obtained nationality not because she is a great-granddaughter, but because she became the granddaughter of a Portuguese.

Also read: How the spouse of a Portuguese national can obtain Portuguese citizenship.

Citizenship processes for grandchildren usually takes longer than for children

In contexts 2 and 3 described above, the number of nationality applications will be reduced to two. It may seem that this reduces the total time required to obtain the nationality of the great-grandson, which is not usually true. The reason is that applications by the grandson of a Portuguese citizen take much longer to process at the Consulate and Conservatory than applications by the children of Portuguese citizens (as per Context 1).

Portuguese citizenship for great-great-grandchildren, is it possible?

The same reasoning applies to great-grandchildren. However, the chances are naturally reduced, since it is more likely that their ancestors (son/daughter or grandson/grandson of the Portuguese) are already deceased. It is important to remember that it is not possible to skip two generations.

What about exceptional naturalization for descendants?

Although Article 6, no. 6 of the Nationality Law provides for the possibility of applying for great-grandchild nationality by naturalization, this is not usually an easily accessible route, and is quite uncommon. It is only granted if the applicant can demonstrate strong ties to the Portuguese national community, and its approval depends on the discretionary power of the Portuguese Government, and no subjective rights are involved.

It should also be noted that this way of obtaining Portuguese nationality will be derivative, which means that the person who obtains it cannot pass it on to his or her adult descendants.

Advantages of Portuguese Citizenship

The Portuguese passport is considered one of the best in the world, and opens many doors especially for those who wish to live in Europe. If you have the right to apply for it, don’t let this opportunity slip away! Among the advantages of having Portuguese citizenship we can point out:

  • Freedom of residence, work and study in Portugal and in all the countries of the European Union;
  • Access to social benefits such as health, education and social security in Portugal;
  • Right to vote and actively participate in the political life of the country;
  • Possibility to obtain a Portuguese passport, which allows travel to a wide range of countries without the need for a visa;
  • Consular protection and assistance in case of emergencies in any country that has a Portuguese embassy or consulate;
  • Cultural and family heritage, with the possibility to reconnect with Portuguese roots and traditions;
  • Access to employment and entrepreneurship opportunities in Portugal and in the European economic area;
  • Ease of obtaining visas and residence permits for close family members;
  • Participation in specific exchange programs and scholarships for EU citizens.

Conclusion

As we have seen, the great-grandson may obtain Portuguese Nationality depending on his family background. To do so, at least one of his ascendants (father/mother or grandfather/grandmother) must still be alive and be interested in acquiring Portuguese nationality.

The best scenario is one in which all generations apply for Portuguese nationality successively, always by children of Portuguese nationals. This is a way to avoid the need to demonstrate ties with Portugal, required for grandchildren of Portuguese citizens whose father/mother did not previously become Portuguese citizens. It is also the fastest way, since grandchildren’s processes tend to take longer than those of children.

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Author:

Atlantic Bridge

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