On January 5th, 2024, the Portuguese Parliament approved a law that introduces amendments to the “Nationality Law”, which governs the granting, acquisition, and loss of Portuguese nationality.
Currently, the Portuguese legislation stipulated that citizenship could be granted through the process of naturalization, subject to the fulfilment of the following cumulative requirements:
(1) Age of 18 years or older (or emancipated according to Portuguese law),
(2) Legal residence in Portugal for a minimum period of 5 years,
(3) Basic knowledge of the Portuguese language,
(4) Absence of conviction of a prison sentence equal to or greater than 3 years (with a final sentence and for a crime punishable by Portuguese law); and
(5) No harm or threat to national security.
The recent legislative change introduces a significant innovation related to the computation of the period of legal residence in Portugal for purpose of applying for Portuguese citizenship through naturalization. Formerly, the 5-year period only started after the final approval and issuance of the temporary residence permit. However, with the amended law, the computation of the time for legal residence will now start immediately after the submission of the application for the temporary residence permit, if it is subsequently approved.
Given the above, the waiting period for the approval of the temporary residence permit is now considered part of the 5-year period required for legitimizing an application for citizenship through naturalization.
This legislative amendment aims to address the inequities stemming from longer-than-expected waiting times for both, the preliminary review of temporary residence applications, and issuance of the residence permit. This change has a positive impact on temporary residence permits under the Portuguese GOLDEN VISA program. With the revised law, an applicant that has initiated his residence application in 2024 will have access to Portuguese citizenship in 2029. This adjustment considers the 5-year timeframe from 2024, in this example, the year of the residence permit application submission, thereby rectifying the impact of delays on the overall naturalization process.
This legislative amendment will take effect in the month after the publication date of the new law and will be applicable to applications for temporary residence permits submitted both prior to and following its enforcement. We expect that this new law will be enacted in early March.
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