Report: Spain begins rejecting Sephardi citizenship requests

In the last six years, Spain had granted citizenship to 34,000 descendants of exiled Jews but now appears to be rejecting most applications.

Tags: Spain
Dan Verbin ,


According to a report, the Spanish government has begun to reject many of the applications for citizenship by Sephardic Jews who were expelled from the country over 500 years ago.

Starting in 2015, both Spain and Portugal enacted citizenship laws to the descendants of Sephardic Jews exiled during the Inquisition in 1492, when Jews were forced to either convert or leave the country, as long as they could prove their Sephardic lineage.

The Spanish government had granted citizenship to 34,000 applicants since then.

However, according to the New York Times, Spanish government data shows that after denying only one applicant before 2021, over 3,000 applicants have been denied citizenship requests in the last few months and 17,000 have not received a response.

Spain’s Ministry of Justice told the Times that the Jews who meet the criteria “are welcome again to their country, but similarly, those who don’t meet the requirements will see that their application is rejected just like they would be in any other process.”

Spain’s citizenship law was slated to end in 2019 but had been extended until September 2021 for those applicants who had already begun the procedure.

At the time of its passing, the Spanish government said that the law was aimed at correcting the “historic mistake” of exiling the Jews in 1492, forcing them to convert to Catholicism or burning them at the stake.

“This law says much about who we were in the past and who we are today and what we want to be in the future: an open, diverse and tolerant Spain,” then-Justice Minister Rafael Catala said, reported the Guardian.

The law was supported by Spain's two main political parties and easily passed. The Spanish government estimated at the time that around 90,000 people would apply for citizenship.