Portugal agrees 10,000 requests for citizenship by descendants of Sephardi Jews
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Portugal agrees 10,000 requests for citizenship by descendants of Sephardi Jews

A third of applications under new citizenship law for descendants of Sephardi Jews are approved

Jenni Frazer is a freelance journalist

 Portugal has approved about a third of approximately 33,000 applications for citizenship under its 2015 law for descendants of Sephardic Jews, according to official figures.

Applications based on the 2015 law, primarily from Israel, Turkey, Brazil and Venezuela, are behind a 10 percent increase in 2018 applications. Portugal’s Publico magazine reported  last month that there were 41,324 such requests; the highest tally in at least
five years.

Israel, which provided Portugal with only a few dozen new citizens per year before 2015, made 4,289 applications in 2018 — the second-highest number after Brazil. Israelis submitted even more applications for naturalisation than ex-Portuguese colonies such as Cape Verde or Angola.

The Foreigners and Borders Service told Publico the increase resulted primarily from the 2015 law about descendants of Sephardi Jews.

Portugal passed its law shortly before Spain passed a similar law, which is more restrictive and ends in October. Thousands of descendants of Sephardic Jews have obtained Spanish citizenship. Portugal’s law is open-ended.

Both countries said the law was to atone for the Inquisition, the Catholic-led persecution of Jews in the Iberian peninsula in the 15th and
16th centuries.

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