On June 25 of 2015 the Law 12 of the 24 June 2015 was published in the Spanish Official Gazette, regarding the concession of Spanish nationality to the Sephardi Jews originally from Spain.

Before this law, Sephardi Jews were in the same situation as the citizens of the Ibero- American republics, Brazilians, Portuguese and Filipinos: They needed to reside legally in Spain for 2 years to be able to apply for nationality. Citizens of other countries than those above mentioned – even EU countries – need 10 years of legal residence to be able to request a Spanish passport.

This law created a unique situation for the Sephardi Jews. They are the only ones who can have immediate access to the Spanish nationality by proving the conditions of Sephardi Jews and fulfilling the requisites of the law, without any need of residence and without resigning their previous nationality.

The law has a moving preamble in which mentions the special relation of Spain with the Sephardi Jews, unjustly expelled in 1492. It also mentions the thousands of Sephardi Jews killed by the Nazis (a special mention is made of the 50,000 killed in Salonika) and states that the “brutal sacrifice of thousands of Sephardi Jews is the imperishable link that unites Spain with the Holocaust.”

The law is strict in the sense that Sephardi Jews applying for the recognition need to show their condition by means of different certificates enumerated by the law, including:

1) From the President of the Permanent Commission of the Federation of Jewish Committees of Spain

2) From the President or similar authority of the Jewish Community of his/her place of residence

3) From the competent Rabbinic Authority

The law specifies how these certificates should be drafted and legalized.

In addition to these, the law also demands other requirements:

  • Proof of the use of the “ladino” or “haketia” as family language, although it accepts proof of other indicators that show the applicant being a member of such community.
  • A report of a competent authority that the last name of the person applying belongs to the Sephardic lineage of Spanish origin.

The law also specifies the ways to credit the special link with Spain: study of Spanish history and culture, economic, cultural or beneficial activity in benefit of people or Spanish institutions, etc.

Those applying will have to undergo examinations such as: basic knowledge of the Spanish language and knowledge of the Spanish Constitution and the social and economic reality of Spain. Scornik Gerstein are immigration attorneys with over 40 years of experience assisting clients to do their immigration process to Spain.

By Fernando Scornik, Esq.