Sephardic Jews: Spanish Nationality
Who are the Sephardic Jews?
This name refers to a specific ethnic division of Jews who used to reside in the Iberian peninsula, that after the Decrees of 1492 were expelled and forced to abandon the Spanish territory. Nowadays, the offspring of those Sephardic Jews can claim the Spanish nationality with preferential conditions.
What if I am a Sephardic Jew, but cannot prove it?
These conditions are only applicable to Sephardic Jews that are able to certify this condition.
What if I am of Sephardic origins but do not actually practice the religion?
The law only requires you to certify your Sephardic origin, not your religious faith.
What if I am a Jew, but not of the Sephardic ethnicity?
These conditions are only apply to Sephardic Jews that can certify this condition.
The law on nationality for Sephardic Jews originated from Spain approved in October 2015 opened an exceptional way for this community to claim the Spanish citizenship. This option was supposed to come to an end in October 2018, but the government recently decided to extend it until October 2019.
Accordingly, Sephardic Jews willing to acquire the Spanish nationality can claim it based on two ways:
- By Naturalization: Sephardic Jews can claim the Spanish nationality, regardless of their nationality and without having to meet any residency requirements.
- By Residence: Sephardic Jews can request the Spanish nationality after two years of continuous legal residency in Spain.
Thanks to the 2015 law, Sephardic Jews acquiring the Spanish nationality based on one of those two ways can do so without having to renounce to his or her previous nationality, which is a privilege that other people do not enjoy. However, to do so, it is essential to prove your Sephardic origin.
How can I certify my Sephardic origins?
The list of documents to prove the Sephardic origin is not exhaustive, for that you are not obliged to provide every single one of them. A designated notary will be in charge of examining your documentation and estimate if your documentation proves your Sephardic origin.
This is a list of the documents that accredit the Sephardic origin:
- Certificate issued by the President of the permanent commission of the federation of Jewish communities in Spain (www.fcje.org).
- Certificate issued by the President or similar position of the Jewish community of the region or city of birth of the applicant.
- Certificate issued by the relevant rabbinic authorities, legally recognized in the country of residence of the applicant.
To accredit the authenticity of those two last documents, the applicant must provide:
- Copy of the original statutes of the foreign religious entity
- Certificate of the foreign entity that states the names of who have been designated legal representatives
- Certificate or document that accredits that the foreign entity is legally recognized in the country of origin
- Certificate issued by the legal representative of the entity that accredits that the signatory Rabbi genuinely and currently holds such condition according to the requirements in force in its statutory norms
Other relevant documents:
- Accreditation of the use of the ladino or “haketia” as a family language
- Birth certificate or “ketubah” or marriage certificate which states its celebration according to Castilla traditions
- Detailed report issued by the competent entities that prove that the applicant’s family names belong to the Spanish Sephardic Jew lineage
- Any other documents or circumstance that can irrefutably demonstrate the Spanish Sephardic origin
How to prove my close link with Spain?
If you chose to claim the Spanish nationality by means of naturalization, even though you do not need to be a resident in Spain to do so, you still need to demonstrate having a special connection to the State.
To do so, you will need to provide two mandatory documents to your application:
- The passing of the Constitutional and Sociocultural test of the Cervantes Institute (CCSE). It consists of several questions relating to two big themes:
- The Spanish form of government, legislation and citizen participation
- History, culture and Spanish society
- The passing of the DELE exam of the Cervantes Institute, to prove a sufficient knowledge of the Spanish language. The minimum grade is A2.
You can ask for dispensation of those two exams if you are over 70 years old.
As for when proving your Sephardic origin, the list of documents to prove your connection to Spain are not exhaustive, and the documents will be examined together. You can therefore provide:
- Certificates of studies of Spanish history and culture issued by official or private institution with official recognition
- Accreditation of the knowledge of the ladino or “haketia” language
- Inscription of the applicant or direct ancestors in the lists of Sephardic families protected by Spain
- Blood relationship between the applicant and a person mentioned in the previous point
- Realization of charitable work, cultural or economic activities in favor of Spanish persons or institutions or in the Spanish territory, including the ones dedicated to support of institutions aiming at the study, protection and publicity of the Sephardic culture
- Any other circumstance that can irrefutably demonstrate a special link with Spain
What if I can not demonstrate a special link with Spain?
As the previous last point states, you can invoke any type of circumstances to prove a link, including a legal residency in Spain. As all the documents will be examined together, the more proof you can provide the better will be your chances of success in your application.
What if it is still not sufficient?
As a Sephardic Jew able to prove such condition, you can also claim the Spanish nationality after two years of continuous legal residency in Spain. In this case, you will not have to prove any special connection with Spain, except the passing of the DELE and CCSE exams.
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