June 24, 2024
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The Prospect of Spanish Citizenship for Descendants of Sephardic Jews

Spain’s government recently approved a draft citizenship bill to offer Spanish citizenship to the descendants of Jews expelled from Spain during the Spanish Inquisition.

Under the draft bill, Spain might be offering citizenship to anyone who’s Sephardic Jewish origins can be proved and certified, without the need to require applicants to renounce their current citizenship. However, the draft bill needs to be approved by the Spanish Parliament, which might well require some minor changes to its application procedures and processes. However, its final approval is widely expected and viewed simply as a formality at this point—which means that this provision will likely become finalized and valid in the very next few months.

This is great news for U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries with Sephardic ancestry, as this bill will allow them to keep their existing citizenship status while acquiring the Spanish one. This prospect is even more appealing and a great asset for those who may be interested in expanding their business abroad or moving to Europe permanently, since Spain is a member country of the European Union. This bill was triggered by memories of one of the darkest periods in Spanish history, known as the Spanish inquisition, which lasted between 1478 and 1614, and the “Spanish Expulsion of 1492,” when all Jews were expelled from Spain.

The Justice Ministry of Spain said that it did not have a clear estimate of how many Sephardic Jews might be eligible for Spanish citizenship, but it has already registered 3,000 applications thus far and the number of applicants is expected to increase. In response to queries, the Spanish Foreign Ministry is also distributing, via its embassies and consulates, a statement explaining that it might take several months for Parliament to approve the bill, and that once it becomes law, the period for applicants to apply for Spanish Citizenship would be limited. Accordingly, it is of extreme importance for those wishing to apply for Spanish citizenship through this proposal to be adequately represented and advised, since timely and complete preparedness is vital to acquiring such status. Through this new bill and reform, the Spanish Ministry added that it is Spain’s wish to “acknowledge the relevance of the Sephardic legacy in its history and culture.”

While this seems like a great prospect for many, it can also adversely affect an applicant’s immigration status in the U.S. and raise possible taxation issues. Interested parties should contact our offices for a consultation so we can adequately assist you with this exciting, new development and avoid adverse consequences on existing citizenship status. This could be a great opportunity for those who can provide Sephardic ancestry.

* This article is based on information available as of its publication and is not intended to be all-inclusive or to furnish advice in a particular case. We are not responsible for any changes in regulations that may occur subsequent to publication. Please feel free to contact our office for further information and advice.

Michael J. Wildes, is the Managing Partner of Wildes and Weinberg, P.C. Wildes and Weinberg, P.C. has offices in New York, New Jersey and Florida. If you would like to contact Michael Wildes please email him at [email protected] and visit the firm’s website at www.wildeslaw.com.

By Michael J. Wildes

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