I haven’t really discussed it on here, but for the last 8 months or so, I have been slowly making my way through the various steps that are involved in applying for Spanish citizenship for Sephardic Jews. Like I said, this process is quite slow, and is relatively straightforward, but I thought I would share my experience, which might help others who are interested in or are planning to apply as well. Before I took one of the exams, I spent some time researching “what to expect” and nothing really came up, so hopefully this will help some wondering souls. If you have any specific questions, please feel free to ask!
Frequently Asked Questions:
1 // Why is citizenship being offering to people of Sephardic origin? In 1492, Spain’s Catholic rulers determined that Spain would be an entirely Catholic country and that anyone that was not Catholic would have the option to a) convert, or b) get out. Some stayed behind as conversos, or converts, others went into exile across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.
2 // What is the Law? The bill was first passed in June 2012 and went into effect in October of 2015. It states that anyone that can prove his or her Sephardic descent (whether Jewish or not) and can prove a “special link” to Spain, is welcome to apply.
3 // Why are they offering citizenship? According to an online article, the government in Madrid claims that the law is atonement for the “historic mistake” of the Jew’s expulsion. Spain has previously offered citizenship to some Sephardic Jews, but required that they give up their current nationality. That is not the case with this law.
4 // Who can apply? According to Federación de Comunidades Judías de España, “Any person who can prove his/her condition of Sephardi and a special link to Spain, even if they do not have a legal residence in our country.”
5 // Do you have to be Jewish to apply? No. The Law is open to anyone of Sephardic origin that can prove it and has a “special link” to Spain.
6 // What is involved in applying? You need to prove your Sephardic origin, take a government and culture exam, take a Spanish exam (A2 level), provide a “link” to Spain, have passports, documents, and birth certificates certified, pay a fee, meet with a notary…and more.
7 // How do you prove Sephardic origin? There are a few ways- Rabbinical certification of Sephardic descent; or knowledge and use of Ladino, the old Spanish dialect spoken by Sephardim; or a surname indicating Sephardic or Spanish ancestry; and a few more.
8 // What is a “special link” to Spain? Examples include: past study of Spanish history and culture, doing business in Spain and involvement in conservation of Sephardic culture, etc.
9 // Do you have to move to Spain once you have citizenship? Absolutely not, but you will need to make an appearance in front of a notario, or notary, in Spain.
10 // How long does the applicant have to apply? The application must be submitted within 3 years from October 1st, 2015. The deadline can be extended for one year by agreement from the Council of Ministers.
For a more complete list of questions, click HERE.