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HOW TO KNOW IF YOU ARE ENTITLED TO A PORTUGUESE CITIZENSHIP?

It is fact that one of the best ways to “open borders” and become a “world citizen” is assuring as many citizenships as possible.


There are some forms of recognition of the Portuguese citizenship, the most common are:


- Children, grandchildren or greatgrandchildren of Portuguese citizens;

- Marriage or Common-law Marriage with a Portuguese citizen;

- Time of Residence;

- Sephardic Jewish descendant.


Before we address each modality, it is worth remembering that every case is unique and should be properly analyzed by a lawyer registered in the Portuguese Bar Association so the best legal support can be offered to you in order to guarantee your right to a Portuguese citizenship.


CHILDREN, GRANDCHILDREN, AND GREATGRANDCHILDREN

To get the citizenship as a child of a Portuguese citizen, the father, mother, or both must have been born in Portugal or even have obtained the citizenship for being born from Portuguese parents. This nationality is of origin, in other words, it goes back to your date of birth, then you will be considered a Portuguese citizen since then – the practical effect of this is that you can transfer this nationality to your children and spouse.


Likewise, grandchildren of a Portuguese citizen are also entitled to the recognition of their nationality of origin. The new Portuguese Nationality law excluded the requirement of “proof of bonds with Portugal” for grandchildren – the only proofs left are mastery of Portuguese language and not having a criminal conviction longer than 3 years of prison and neither a connection with terrorist groups.


On the other hand, the life of greatgrandchildren of Portuguese citizens is complicated. This is because the application for “ius sanguinis” citizenships cannot skip more than 2 generations. That is to say, for a greatgrandchild of a Portuguese citizen to have the right to citizenship, his/her parents or grandparents must be alive and apply for the citizenship before the greatgrandchild. It is not impossible, but it makes the process really difficult.


MARRIAGE OR COMMON-LAW MARRIAGE WITH A PORTUGUESE CITIZEN

People married to a Portuguese citizen or even people who have a common-law marriage also have the right to get the Portuguese citizenship. The legal procedure is called citizenship by acquisition – different from the process by blood bond, called assignment.


According to the Portuguese law, those who have been married to a Portuguese citizen for over 3 years can apply for the Portuguese nationality. For the couples in common-law marriage, the nationality can also be obtained from the partner and the period is the same 3 years of union; however, the common-law union (União de Facto, term used in Portuguese) must be recognized by a Portuguese court.


Nevertheless, the applicant for a citizenship by acquisition MUST NOT:


- Having been convicted for a crime which in Portugal is punishable with a penalty of imprisonment for 3 years or over;

- Having held public office positions in other countries;

- Having performed non-mandatory military service in a foreign country

- Being involved in terrorist activities.


Important remark: in this category, in case the applicant is married to a Portuguese citizen between 3 and 6 years, the Public Ministry of Portugal might be opposed to citizenship transfer when the applicant is not able to prove the bonds with the country. Such ministerial prerogative is not applicable if the couple is married – or is in common-law marriage – for over 6 years.


TIME OF RESIDENCE


Foreigners who live in Portugal for over 5 years – counting from the date in which the title of legal residence in the country was issued – have the right to apply for the Portuguese Citizenship. These 5 years can be counted in a row, without interruption, or interspersed – it should not exceed 15 years in total, since the first valid residence permit.


Just remind that the Portuguese citizenship by time of residence is via acquisition (not via assignment), in other words, it starts to count from the day it was granted and not back from the date of birth of the beneficiary.


However, it is worth remembering that both citizenship modalities grant the same rights and advantages of having a European citizenship – free circulation, residence, and work in any country of the European Bloc.


SEPHARDIC JEWS

Sephardic Jews were the group of Jews expelled from the Iberian Peninsula in the year of 1496, four years after their expulsion from the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon (Spain nowadays). Thousands of Jews spread through Europe and, after years, they ended up going across the ocean, to the New World.


Now Portugal tries to repair part of this historical injustice and to grant back the citizenship for the descendants of those expelled centuries ago. But how to know if you are a descendant of this group of Jews, expelled from Portugal for over 500 years?


To be declared a Sephardic Jew descendant, you must obtain the Certificate of the Jewish Portuguese Community, in the General Consulate of Portugal in São Paulo. This certificate proves your Sephardic Jew heritage. If you cannot obtain the certificate, you can prove it in another way, such as authenticated documentary records from cemeteries, synagogues, etc., as well as the proof that you perform Jewish rites or use Ladin language in your community.

After your bond with Sephardic Jews is proved, the applicant goes through the naturalization process, in other words, the Portuguese citizenship is only effective from the date it was granted, and it can only be transferred to your children under 18 years.


Do you have any questions? Contact our team of specialists and schedule a meeting to get the answers!

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