The Spanish began their famous Inquisition in 1478, but it wasn’t until the Alhambra Decree in 1492 that the expulsion of all Jews and conversos (Jews converted to Christianity but believed to be secretly practicing their former faith) was ordered.
The numbers expelled vary depending on the source, but most of those pushed out of Spain went to Portugal.
Unfortunately, the Portuguese began their own inquisition in 1536… though by that time many of the 1492 Jewish immigrants from Spain had already been forced to convert to Christianity.
Of course, Judaism wasn’t the only target of the inquisitions in Spain and Portugal.
In Goa, the Portuguese colony in India, Hindus were forced to convert to Christianity or leave. Plus you had your standard witches, bigamists, and sodomites who were also targeted by both the Spanish and Portuguese inquisitions.
The inquisitions continued in both countries until the early 1800s… specifically, until 1821 in Portugal and until 1834 in Spain.
Now, centuries later, these two countries are trying to make amends… at least with the Jewish population they expelled. Both Spain and Portugal have passed laws to allow descendants of the Sephardic Jewish populations that were expelled to apply for citizenship.
The Spanish law, if not extended, allows for applications through October of this year only. Spain also requires that every applicant take Spanish history and language tests… and prove a contemporary connection with Spain.
The Portuguese are more generous in their offering.
First, Portugal hasn’t imposed an application deadline for its program. In addition, the only requirement to qualify is to prove an ancestral Sephardic connection.
To date, close to 9,000 applications have been submitted to the Portugal government requesting citizenship under this program… with about 800 applications approved… and only one denied. The rest are still under review.
Of course, this doesn’t work for everyone… because not everyone can show a Sephardic connection. However, if you can (and can provide the proper documentation to support it), this is one of the easiest and cheapest second passport options available anywhere in the world right now.
Furthermore, a Portuguese passport is one of the best travel documents out there. It currently ranks one slot above passports from the United States and Canada for visa-free travel.
Plus, remember, it’s a passport to an EU member nation… meaning that a Portuguese passport makes it possible for you to live and work not only in Portugal but also in any of the 28 (soon to be 27) EU countries.
Getting a Portuguese passport is like planting a couple dozen residency flags all at once.
Of course, it also means you can stick around in Portugal as long as you’d like… and Portugal isn’t a bad place to stick around. It has one of the best costs of living in Europe coupled with some of the best year-round weather. It’s also got great beaches, very modern infrastructure (this is one of the most wired countries on the Continent), and one of Europe’s most under-appreciated capital cities (that I predict is on its way to becoming hip and trendy).
Plus, as a Portuguese resident you have access to the country’s national health care system.
You couldn’t ask for a better country to become a passport-carrying member of.
As citizenship-by-ancestry options go, this is the widest reaching I’ve ever seen. Usually, these programs require a connection to the country as recent as your grandparents.
If you’re eligible or think you could be eligible, start your research now. It could take time to find and compile the required documentation. The Spanish put a deadline on their program, and Portugal could pull the plug on theirs at any time.
This opportunity, therefore, falls squarely into the category of: Take action while you can.