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    February 20, 2024
    Portuguese Nationality Update: Changes to the Nationality Law are constitutional

    Residency application time will count for the 5 years needed for nationality

    Following our previous article on the changes to the Nationality Law in Portugal, we can now inform that the Portuguese Constitutional Court has just decided, by majority, that such changes do not raise any constitutionality issues.

    We recall that these changes to the Nationality Law had been passed in Parliament in early January but the President of the Republic had sent them to the Portuguese Constitutional Court for preventive review of its constitutionality. The doubts of the President were only related to a particular article regarding the acquisition of nationality through Sephardic descent.

    However, the judges from the Constitutional Court have considered that the law, in essence, does not harm the legitimate expectations of citizenship applicants and neither does it directly jeopardize the lives or the dignity of the human person nor does it materialize any restriction of rights, freedoms and guarantees.

    As a result, following this ruling by the Portuguese Constitutional Court, the President should, within the next 20 days, sign off the law, which will then be published in the official gazette and become effective.

    It is important to recall that one of the most relevant changes in this law is related to the way in which the 5-year period required to apply for citizenship is counted. Contrary to what used to happen, with the changes now approved, the 5 years will be counted from the time of submission of the residency application. As a result, the time that residency applications are pending will count towards the 5 years required for the citizenship application.

    It is expectable that the new law is published in the official gazette very shortly and we shall keep monitoring this situation.

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