Portugal amends citizenship law, shortens naturalization process for foreigners

In a significant move for golden visa investors, Portugal has recently revised its citizenship laws to expedite the application process for Portuguese nationality, among other changes. Passed by the Parliament on January 5, the updated law will allow applicants to begin the required five-year period for citizenship from the date they apply for residency, rather than from when residency is granted, which is the current practice.

Portugal Citizenship

This is great news for those applicants who faced delays due to a combination of COVID, the influx of Ukrainian Refugees, a surge in applications, and strikes. “This amendment recognizes the harm these delays cause and seeks to address it with an automatic administrative solution.

Before this amendment, the time between applying for Portuguese residency and its approval could, in worst-case scenarios, take up to three years, thereby postponing the date for eligibility to apply for citizenship. Due to these habitual delays, many advisors for golden visa recommended their clients to expect citizenship eligibility after seven years, instead of the five years outlined in the law.

The revised law is anticipated to benefit both existing and future golden visa holders, meaning those who received their residency two years post-application will now be eligible for citizenship two years sooner than previously expected.

Yet there is a potential issue with the law’s wording, which uses ‘residence title’ instead of ‘residence permit’ – two different concepts and stages. This could lead to the interpretation that the five-year countdown towards nationality starts only with the payment for the residence title issuance. For golden visa holders.

Additionally, the amendments include citizenship restrictions for individuals considered national security threats due to ties with terrorism or criminal activities, as well as for individuals sanctioned by the EU or UN, whose citizenship applications will be suspended until the sanctions are lifted.

Finally, like any new law in Portugal, the citizenship law awaits the President’s approval, which could take up to 90 days to come into effect.

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