US/World News

130,000 Sephardic Jews file Spanish citizenship applications 

(JNS) A total of 130,000 applications for Spanish citizenship were submitted by descendants of Spanish Jews expelled from the country in 1492, the Spanish Justice Ministry said on Tuesday, Oct. 1, which was the deadline for applications. Jews living in Mexico topped the list with about 20,000 requests, followed by Jews in Venezuela and Colombia.

During the Spanish Inquisition, Spain’s Catholic monarchs forced practicing Jews to convert or leave the country. Historians believe that about 200,000 Jews lived in Spain before their expulsion, the BBC reported.

In 2015, Spain passed a law permitting the descendants of Spanish Jews who were expelled from the country to apply for citizenship. Applicants had to prove a family connection with medieval Spain, get their Sephardi origins certified by a solicitor in Spain, get tested on Spain’s culture and constitution, and show competence in Spanish or the Judeo-Spanish variant Ladino. Those applying for Spanish nationality were allowed to keep their current nationality (though Spain generally does not allow dual citizenship), and if their application is approved, they are not required to move to Spain. The naturalization ceremony can also be performed at a Spanish consulate in other countries.

Portugal is currently offering a similar opportunity for citizenship.

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