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The Portuguese Parliament has just approved several changes to the Nationality Law in Portugal.

Although such changes cover different areas, one of the most relevant is related to the way the 5-year period required for a nationality application is counted. In fact, according to article 6º paragraph 1 of Nationality Law, one can apply for Portuguese nationality by naturalization after holding a residency of Portugal for at least 5 years, among other formal requirements.

Before the changes now approved, it was established that the 5-year period would only start from the moment the residency was granted. More specifically since the issue of the first residency permit.

Considering the increasing delays and backlog of the entities processing all types of residency applications in Portugal (formerly S.E.F – Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras and now AIMA ), which in some cases could exceed 2 years, the fact that this application period was not considered for the residency period required for nationality was, in reality, creating an unfair situation for many thousands of residents.

The changes passed today in Parliament have addressed this unfair situation and established clearly that the waiting time for the residency application is also to be considered in the 5 year-period required to apply for Portuguese nationality.

Changes to article 15 (adding now paragraph 4) of the Nationality Law establish that “for the purposes of the counting of the time of legal residency foreseen in this law, the time between the moment when the temporary residency permit was requested will also be considered, provided that it comes to be approved”.

This now means that someone who was or has been waiting for their residency to be approved or for their card to be issued will not see this long waiting period “wasted”, as the date when the residency application was submitted is the one that now counts.

The new law will come into effect one month after being published in the Official Gazette, which will occur after the Presidential ratification.

A few practical examples:

–       Someone has applied for residency in December 2021 and unfortunately is still waiting for their approval will now be able to apply for nationality as of December 2026;

–       Someone who applied for residency in March 2019 but was waiting for 18 months for approval which means that their first residency card was only issued in October 2021 will now be able to apply for nationality as of March 2024;

–       Someone who applies for a residency now – i.e. early 2024 – can be assured that they will be in a position to apply for nationality in 2029, regardless of any potential delays with the processing of the residency application.

This is excellent news for anyone that has applied or obtained a residency of Portugal and amends an unfair situation that has been created as a result of the delays of the Authorities in processing residency applications.

Source: EDGE International Lawyers

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