Main Changes To The Rules On Portuguese Nationality

Author:PLMJ Team

Organic Law No. 2/2018 was published on 5 July 2018. It introduces new amendments to Law no. 37/81 of 3 October and, in certain situations, it makes it easier to obtain nationality by origin or by naturalisation. The main changes are summarised below.

  1. Children of foreigners born in Portuguese territory

    The new law establishes that the children of foreigners born in Portuguese territory (when the parents are not in the service of their home state), are considered Portuguese by origin, provided that one of the parents has been residing legally in Portugal for at least 2 years. This contrasts with the 5 years that were previously necessary. This rule does not apply if there is an express declaration against acquiring Portuguese nationality by origin.

  2. Adopted children

    The new law also makes it possible for anyone adopted by a Portuguese national, before the law came into force, to acquire Portuguese nationality if they so wish.

  3. Nationality by naturalisation

    When it comes to acquiring nationality by naturalisation, the legislature has reduced the necessary period of legal residence from 6 to 5 years. It has also created a presumption of sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language for those born in or citizens of a country where Portuguese is the official language.

    The law also establishes that minor children born in Portugal to foreign parents can acquire nationality by naturalisation, provided that (i) they have a sufficient command of the Portuguese language, (ii) they have not been convicted, under a final judgment that is no longer subject to appeal, to a prison sentence of 3 years or more, (iii) they are not a danger or threat to national security or defence, and (iv) one of the parents has been resident in Portugal for at least 5 years preceding the application for nationality, regardless of the basis on which the parent has been resident, or the minor has concluded a programme of basic or secondary education in Portugal. By way of example, this provision allows minors with foreign nationality who are housed in institutions to be able to obtain Portuguese nationality regardless of the residence status of their parents or the conclusion of any basic or secondary education programme.

    Another important change relates to applications for nationality by naturalisation through relatives in the ascending line. This changes makes it possible for the children of those who have Portuguese nationality by origin to obtain nationality...

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