Descendants of the Spanish Expulsion and their Right to Portuguese Citizenship Let’s begin with a brief history about the expulsion of Spain and Portugal. Well, in 1492, the King of Spain, Ferdinand, together with his wife Isabella, signed an order ordering the forced expulsion of the Jews of Spain. Jews were given the choice between conversion to Christianity and expulsion. Many of the Jews converted to Christianity, at least ostensibly, others dispersed to different countries. The exact number of Jews who left Spain is unknown and there are estimates of between 40,000 and 160,000. The Jews who were expelled from Spain mostly came to North Africa and to various countries throughout the Ottoman Empire, but also to various countries in Europe.
Many of the Jews who were expelled from Spain emigrated to Portugal and the Jewish community there increased significantly, but their situation there was not brilliant either, and they were considered the king’s slaves. In 1496, four years after the expulsion from Spain, the King of Portugal Manuel I married Isabel, the daughter of Ferdinand and Isabella, the kings of Spain. As part of the marriage, Isabelle’s parents demanded the deportation of the Jews of Portugal and again Jews were forced to choose between assimilation into the Christian community and deportation. Today the Jewish community in Portugal is a small community, but it can be estimated that many of the citizens of Portugal are descendants of the expulsion from Spain.
Eligibility for Portuguese citizenship
In 2013, the Portuguese government announced its intention to allow the descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews to accept Portuguese citizenship as a kind of correction of historical injustice. The Portuguese government explicitly stated the criteria for obtaining Portuguese citizenship for Portuguese Jews, which eventually led to the enactment of laws that allowed this. On April 1, 2015, the law allowing the granting of Portuguese citizenship came into effect. This law is the basis for the application for Portuguese citizenship. The procedure itself was carried out in cooperation with representatives of the Jewish community, who were authorized to do so, in Portugal together with the government office responsible for the issues of citizenship and conservatism.
In order to enjoy the right to obtain a Portuguese passport, those interested in it must prove their connection to the Jewish community in Portugal, a process carried out in cooperation with the institutions of the Jewish community in Portugal. If your family comes from Jewish communities of descendants of the Spanish Expulsion, there is a great chance that you are entitled to a Portuguese passport.
Proof of the connection to Portuguese Jewry
In order to obtain Portuguese citizenship, it is necessary to prove the connection to the Jewish community, but one of the problems is to prove that connection, especially considering that it has been over five hundred years! To do this, you must search for all the documents that you can find in the parents, grandparents, in order to prove to the Jewish community of Portugal. If you are interested in European citizenship we can help you collect the necessary documents. There are research institutes, databases and various drawings that we can search to assist you in the process. We are in contact with representatives of the Jewish community in Portugal and government offices. We know the Portuguese Citizenship Law in great detail and we can help you.