Portugal Citizenship Law – Legal Opinion on the Recent Changes 11/01/2024 by Pedro Monteiro
Recent news regarding Portugal Citizenship Law looks very positive for foreign nationals who have applied for residency in Portugal (or plan to) with the goal to apply for citizenship and a Portuguese passport in the foreseable future.
On January 11, 2024, Portuguese Parliament approved several changes to the Portugal Citizenship Law. The most important thing for Portugal Golden Visa applicants is to do with the proposed change in the residence time counting system. This had votes in favour of the government party and several other parties, with the largest opposition party not voting against (abstained).
In view of this, it is hereby informed that Parliament approved a proposal to change the system for counting residence time for the purposes of submitting a nationality application (minimum of 5 years of residence needed), which will begin to be counted from the day on which the applicant submits the process, and not when the applicant receives the first residence card (current law).
In simple terms, the 5 years of residence required to submit the nationality application will now begin when the applicant submits their application for residence in Portugal as opposed to waiting until the applicant receives final approval.
– Pedro Monteiro
This proposal seems clearly positive and will, if enacted, save several years of waiting for applicants who are waiting to complete or to start their 5 years of residence. In any event, please bear in mind that this proposal that was voted favourably in Parliament, is only the first step of the legislative process.
Please note that the new Portugal citizenship law will also have to be approved by the President of Portugal and will only come into force later, 90 days after its publication in the official gazette.
That said, we would also like to add that it is not yet clear what moment the law will consider as the beginning/submission of application given that, in the case of the Golden Visa process, the Portugal citizenship law may consider one of the following steps:
- Online submission (1st step); or
- Submission of the biometric appointment (2nd step).
Therefore, taking into account that the legislative process is not yet concluded, we cannot yet provide a concrete and 100% accurate analysis of this bill which was voted favourably in Parliament, even though this is good news and shows the conviction and clear objective of the government to resolve the problems and delays of the recent years.
Such changes will come either from the reformation of the SEF (now is called AIMA), making the immigration authority more equipped and faster, or through the general law. This aims to recover some lost time for citizens/applicants who are in the process of obtaining residence approval in Portugal or waiting to complete the 5 years of residence needed to apply for the Portuguese passport.
We will inform our readers as soon as there is any update regarding this matter.
Lisbon, Pedro Marques Monteiro