From the 1st October 2015, the Spanish government passed a controversial law which allowed people of Sephardic origin the right to return to Spain as a Spanish resident. The descendants of the Jews expelled from Spain over 500 years ago, have now been granted the opportunity to move back to the country and gain full citizenship.
Many people are now looking into applying for Sephardic citizenship but are unaware of the processes required in order to obtain it. In this post, we will answer many questions for people who are looking to go down this avenue in the hopes of gaining citizenship.
What does ´Sephardic´ actually mean?
The word Seferad in Hebrew means Spain, meaning that Sephardic actually means Spanish. Sephardi refers to the Jews who resided in the Iberian Peninsula until 1492, after which they were banished from Spain if they did not agree to change their religion to Christianity. Many Jewish citizens escaped to other countries around the world in order to avoid castigation, leaving them displaced.
Can I apply for Sephardic Spanish citizenship?
As is expected, there has been a sharp rise in applications since the announcement of this controversial change, but are you eligible for Spanish citizenship Sephardic? This can be difficult to prove, as many people struggle to show they have historical ties with Spain, however if you think you´ve got a viable case it is best to get some professional help.
You may apply for Spanish citizenship Sephardic if you can prove your Sephardic origin and a special connection with Spain. This is open to Jewish and non-Jewish people, providing they can prove that they have links of Sephardic origin.
How long do I have to apply for Spanish citizenship and how long is the application process?
Applicants have been given guidelines that their applications must be completed within 3 years from 1st October 2015 when the law was introduced. It has also been discussed that an extra year may be granted to applicants, if agreed by the Spanish Administration services, depending on their situation and case. Typically an application is decided within 12 months from the date your case is referred to the main offices, together with the reports sent by the ministry of interior and the ministry of presidency, meaning that your process could take up to 15 months from the date you file your application.
What do I need to prove that I am of Sephardic origin?
The new law requires that you have can provide proof of your Sephardic origins. This can be through a series of different means. Here are some of the documents that you can use in order to prove your connections:
a) Certificate or letter issued by the President of the Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain (FCJE)
b) Certificate or letter issued by the President of the Sephardic Congregation or Temple of the city of residence or city of birth of the applicant.
c) Certificate or letter signed by a competent rabbinical authority, legally recognized in the country of origin or country of residence of the applicant.
In cases b) and c), you may request an additional certificate from the FCJE proving that the President and/or Rabbi issuing your certificates are authorities capable of doing so in your Sephardic community. Alternatively, when you do not provide this certificate issued by the FCJE, you may attach to your application the following documents: Copy of the original Articles of Association of the foreign religious entity.
- Certificate of the foreign entity including the names of the people appointed as legal representatives.
- Certificate, or document, proving that the foreign entity is legally recognized in the country of origin or country of residence of the applicant.
- A certificate issued by the legal representative of the entity showing the signatory Rabbi currently holds such a position according to the requirements established by the religious entity.
If you require any other information about Sephardic citizenship, our team of highly skilled lawyers specialising in this topic can give you all of the information and answers you may need.