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Portugal Approves 10,000 Citizenship Requests From Descendants Of Expelled Jews

(JTA) — 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 data.

Applications based on the 2015 law, primarily from Israel, Turkey, Brazil and Venezuela, are behind a 10-percent increase in applications in 2018, which saw 41,324 such requests in 2018, the Publico magazine in Portugal reported last month. It was the highest tally in at least five years.

The report did not say how many applications have been declined.

Israel, which used to provide Portugal with no more than a few dozen new citizens per year before 2015, provided 4,289 applications in 2018 — the second-highest number of any country after Brazil. Israelis submitted more applications for naturalization than even former Portuguese colonies like Cape Verde (4,259) and Angola (1,953.)

Citizens of Turkey, who in past years had made few applications for Portugal citizenship, accounted for 1,141 last years. Venezuelans submitted 562 such requests.

The Foreigners and Borders Service told Publico the increase owed primarily to the law about descendants of Sephardi Jews passed in 2015.

Portugal passed that law shortly before Spain passed a similar law, which is more restrictive and ends in October 2019. Thousands of descendants of Sephardim have obtained Spanish citizenship. Portugal’s law is open-ended. Both countries said the law was to atone for the Church-led persecution of Jews in the 15th and 16th centuries, known as the Inquisition.

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