Spanish Citizenship for Israelis
Lately we are hearing a lot about the issue of Spanish citizenship for Israelis, but what is this new law? In the 15th century, Spain enacted the Alhambra Decree which forced Jews to choose between converting to Catholicism and leaving Spain. Many Jews chose to flee rather than convert. In 2015, the Spanish government expressed its desire to make amends for its historical mistake of expelling Jews by passing a Jewish Law of Return to Spain. This law offers Spanish citizenship to the descendants of Sephardic Jews who were expelled five centuries ago.
At present, the law firm of Cohen, Decker, Pex, Brosh, specializes in obtaining Portuguese citizenship for descendants of Shepardic Jews. Portugal is a member of the EU, and acquiring a Portuguese citizenship presents the same benefits as a Spanish citizenship. However, the process is far more convenient. In addition, our law office has professional contacts in Portugal that simplify the process. Regardless, we are happy to explain the process of obtaining Spanish citizenship for those who aren’t interested in a Portuguese citizenship.
Who Is Eligible to Apply for Spanish Citizenship under the Jewish Law of Return to Spain?
Anyone who can prove that s/he is descended from Sephardic Jews and can show a special connection to Spain may apply for Spanish citizenship. Applicants do not have to be Jewish or reside in Spain to be eligible; they only have to be descendants of Sephardic Jews.
What Are the Requirements for Applying?
Applicants must fulfill two requirements in order to be eligible for Spanish citizenship for Israelis. First, they must prove that they have Sephardic status. Second, they must prove that they have a special connection to Spain. Applicants must also present a birth certificate and a document showing whether they have a criminal record. All documents must be translated and some must be apostilled.
Applicants must also pass two tests in order to receive Spanish citizenship. The first test requires a demonstration of basic knowledge of the Spanish language. The second test requires basic knowledge of Spain’s constitution, society, and culture.
Applicants do not have to travel to or reside in Spain to be eligible for Spanish citizenship under this law. In the past, people who wanted to apply for Spanish citizenship were required to give up their home country nationality. However, this new law allows applicants to keep their existing citizenship and have a dual nationality.
How to Prove Sephardic Status
Sephardic status can be proven by providing any evidence which demonstrates the applicant’s status as a Sephardic Jew who originated from Spain. For example, a certificate of the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain, a birth or marriage certificate which proves that the celebration was conducted according to the Sephardic Jewish culture, use of Ladino which was the Spanish dialect spoken by Sephardi Jews, rabbinical certification of Sephardic origins, etc. For those who require assistance in this area, the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain has made arrangements with Israeli organizations to assist applicants in proving their Sephardic origins.
How to Prove a Special Connection to Spain
An applicant can prove that s/he has a special connection to Spain by providing any evidence which demonstrates a linkage to Spain. For example, proof of studying Spanish history, knowledge of the Ladino or “Haketia” language, participation in activities which benefit Spanish people or institutions, etc.
How to Apply
The application must be completed online and in Spanish. The application can be found on the Ministry of Justice website. Applicants must pay a fee of 100 Euros. A notary will contact the applicant if s/he has fulfilled all the requirements, and there is concrete and reasonable expectation that citizenship might be granted. If the General Directorate of Registries and Notary Services decides that the application is valid and approved, the applicant has one year to stand before the Civil Registry at the Spanish Embassy and swear his/her allegiance to the king, the Spanish constitution, and Spanish laws. If the applicant fails to do so within the given time-frame, his/her application will expire.
Is There a Deadline?
This Law of Return came into effect on October 1, 2015, and the Spanish government will be accepting applications for three years from that date. The Council of Ministries is considering extending the deadline for another year. After the deadline, applications will continue to be accepted in accordance with this law only for extraordinary or humanitarian cases.
It takes approximately one year from the date of submitting the application for a decision to be made. If this period has passed and the applicant has not received a resolution on his/her case, the application is considered invalid through administrative silence.
Cohen, Decker, Pex & Brosh law firm has lawyers experienced in immigration law, and we cooperate with lawyers in Spain in order to assist clients in obtaining Spanish citizenship. We would be happy to assist Israelis who wish to apply for Spanish citizenship at any stage in the proceedings.