New laws to allow citizenship for descendants of exiled Spanish Jews

"The Expulsion of the Jews"
“The Expulsion of the Jews”

A new law, to be passed this month, will allow the descendants of Jews exiled in the 15th Century to claim Spanish citizenship.

Individuals who are able to trace their heritage to Spanish Jewish groups will be allowed to apply for Spanish citizenship later this year. The new law, which comes after a lengthy legal process that began in 2013, is being dubbed a ‘welcome back’ by some Jewish communities.

The Sephardic Jews, who originally arrived in the Iberian Peninsula over 1000 years ago, were exiled from the country in 1492 under the rule of King Ferdinand.

The historic event, known as the Spanish Expulsion, came at the height of the Spanish Inquisition after the country was declared a Christian nation following the defeat of conquest of Muslim groups in Granada. Many current Jewish groups throughout Europe, North Africa and the Middle East are able to trace their history back to Sephardic families.

Under new laws Sephardi descendants will be given two routes to gain citizenship. As well as registering for standard nationality practicing Jews will can also be designated as a Sephardic Jew by Spain’s Federation of Jewish Communities, granting them the chance to spend up to two years in the country.

An amendment to the bill, added in 2014, also allows applicants to keep their existing citizenship and register as Spanish dual-nationals.

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