Changes to the Rules on Portuguese Nationality for Sephardim
Intended Use and Legal Disclaimer
Summary of Public Media Reporting on the CIP and CIL Processes
Decreto-Lei n.º 26/2022
Para inglês ver
The Jewish Community of Lisbon (CIL) – a Sephardic community – have adhered to the letter and spirit of the law at a significant opportunity cost. They have seen CIP process far more candidates at significantly lower cost. While a larger community than CIP, and employing a small army of Portuguese historians, they only processed 11% of applications. This is because they adhered to genealogical standards as generally understood internationally. Presumably CIL will now be deluged by new applicants who would previously have applied to CIP. It is also left to CIL to clean up the mess created by others.
Who is Rabbi Litvak?
Rabbi Daniel Litvak, “Chief Rabbi of Porto”.
In an interview two months before his arrest, Rabbi Litvak stated: “No one will have the satisfaction of seeing any Jew from our community linked to unlawful acts and suitcases full of cash.” He was arrested by the police at Porto airport while attempting to leave the country. Unverified reports allege that he had $3 million in his bank account. CNN reports that: “At stake are the crimes of influence peddling, active corruption, document falsification, money laundering, qualified tax fraud and criminal association.” It is reported that police seized evidence for 80,000 naturalisation processes. If there has been misconduct, it is difficult to believe that it was limited to a single individual. The Sephardic Genealogical Society has full confidence in the Portuguese police investigation. Should anyone be found guilty of the offences enumerated by CNN, Sephardic honour demands custodial prison sentences.
Challenges to the reformed rules
What the future could look like
Building on Portugal’s Sephardic Jewish History, this time, in earnest
What if my application is not approved by the Jewish Community of Lisbon by 30 August 2022? We are told that you can submit your application to the Ministry of Justice before receiving your certification from the Jewish Community of Lisbon (CIL). You then later add the CIL certificate to the Ministry of Justice process. We believe this only works if the Ministry of Justice has not yet started to review your application documents, which normally is several months after the application is made. Please remember that the Ministry of Justice application requires you to obtain extra documents, have documents translated, notarised and apostilled. This can take weeks or months depending on where you live, and you should allow sufficient time. There is guidance on the CIL website at https://cilisboa.org/portuguese-nationality-concession/
I received Portuguese nationality with certification from the Jewish Community of Porto, should I be scared? We do not know what the Portuguese Government will do next. If your application was legitimate and well-documented, we hope you have no cause for alarm. If your application was legitimate but not well-documented, then it is possible the Portuguese Government may require you to provide proper documentation. If your application was illegitimate then we recommend in consultation with your legal counsel, writing to your local Portuguese consul-general stating that you have another nationality and renouncing your Portuguese citizenship, returning your Portuguese passport, birth certificate and Citizenship Card.
My application is currently in process at the Jewish Community of Porto, what will happen now? We understand that CIP will issue certificates for applicants they have already approved. We do not know about applications they have received but not yet approved. We understand they are not taking new applicants.
What will happen now if I apply to the Ministry of Justice with a certificate issued by the Jewish Community of Porto? We do not know. It is possible they will want to review the evidential documents previously reviewed by CIP, but we do not know. If you have not already done so, we recommend gathering documents that support your claim to Sephardic ancestry.
What happens if I apply to the Ministry of Justice on 1 September 2022 or later? As matters stand at the time of writing, you will need to meet the requirements of Decreto-Lei n.º 26/2022. These have not yet been precisely defined by the Conservatória dos Registos Centrais but, assuming the goal of this decree-law is to exclude Jews, we are not optimistic that there remains a route to citizenship after 30 August 2022.
Can you recommend a lawyer? A lawyer is not a requirement. Should you want to retain a lawyer, your national embassy in Portugal probably has a list, or you can consult the Portuguese Bar Association. The Sephardic Genealogical Society can provide an introduction to the law firm who advised us in this matter.
If this information has been helpful, please consider supporting the Sephardic Genealogical Society through a small monthly donation. This is also an opportunity to deepen your knowledge of Sephardic history, genealogy and culture. https://www.patreon.com/sephardi We are also seeking support for major research projects, including some that are technologically innovative.