New changes to Portuguese Citizenship Law – April 2024

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Recently introduced amendments to the Portuguese Nationality Law, Organic Law 1/2024 of March 5th, mark a pivotal revolution in citizenship acquisition routes.

Notably, retroactive measures will impact citizenship applications under Sephardic Ancestry submitted post-September 2022, while earlier applications remain under previous regulations from 2015. In addition to changes benefiting applicants under the Sephardic Ancestry route, citizenship acquisition through residency has suffered changes that are particularly advantageous for Golden Visa applicants, who usually face lengthy waiting times and delays in processing. Administrative delays are now accounted for in assessing if a residence permit holder is eligible for citizenship, ensuring investors and legal residents can pursue citizenship without undue postponement.


Citizenship eligibility after five years of legal residency

Past regulation: Five years of residency are required as of the first residency permit issuance date (and there must be at least five years equivalent of renewed residence permits).

New regulation: To assess residency periods for citizenship eligibility, the time elapsed since the request of temporary residency authorization is considered (provided the application is ultimately approved).

Citizenship by affiliation

Past regulation – Application only possible during minority.

New regulation: Citizenship can be requested if filiation is established at the age of majority under certain conditions, such as a court ruling.

Suspension of citizenship application

Past regulation – No impact of UN or EU restrictive measures.

New regulation: Citizenship applications are suspended if UN or EU restrictive measures apply under Law 97/2017 of August 23rd.

Citizenship under Sephardic Ancestry

Past regulation—There is no residency requirement in Portugal. Applicants were required to obtain a certificate from a Portuguese Jewish community attesting to their Sephardic descent. Since September 2022, an applicant must prove further connections to Portugal through property inheritance mortis causa or lifetime visits to Portugal.

New regulation – Applicants must live three years in Portugal and undergo a certification process (besides the one conducted by a Portuguese Jewish Community) subject to final approval by a commission appointed by the Ministry of Justice. The new regulation effectively makes these new requirements retroactive for applicants applying after September 2022. Nevertheless, an applicant applying before April 1st 2024, has a reduced residence period of one year instead of three years.


New requirements for Sephardic Jews require an enhanced connection to Portugal through a more substantial in-country presence, followed by a formal evaluation process.

The new regulation grants the Public Prosecutor’s Office powers to question the legitimacy of citizenship approvals within a year of registration. This measure aims to scrutinize approvals deemed dubious, ensuring the integrity of the citizenship acquisition process.

The new regulation can mandate the collection of biometric data—facial images, fingerprints, and height—to verify the authenticity of data presented in nationality applications. Qualified personnel from specific Portuguese institutions will handle data collection and processing. This data may be reused upon citizenship approval to issue citizen cards, adhering to established data preservation guidelines. Conversely, the collected biometric data will be deleted following the legal appeal period or after a final legal decision if citizenship is denied.

The latest updates to the Portuguese Nationality Law introduced significant changes, particularly for the Sephardic citizenship and residency-based routes. Given administrative delays, these adjustments are designed to streamline the application process and ensure fairness.


For additional information or clarification, please feel free to contact us. Our Immigration team and Private Client teams are ready to assist you.


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