Opposition to the acquisition of Portuguese nationality by minors and incapacitated persons – law and practice

oposição à nacionalidade portuguesa

The minor or incapacitated children of individuals who have acquired Portuguese nationality derived after the birth of their children may apply for the acquisition of Portuguese nationality, expressing such will and proving the fulfillment of the applicable legal requirements.

However, this claim can be opposed by the Public Prosecutor’s Office, through a legal action opposing the acquisition of nationality, and one of the grounds that the Public Prosecutor’s Office can use in this action is the lack of an effective link of the applicant to the Portuguese community.

If the Public Prosecutor’s Office decides to oppose the acquisition of nationality, it will still have to prove that the person concerned does not have such link as, since 2006, and after express confirmation by the Supreme Administrative Court in 2016, it has been clear that the applicant for nationality only has to declare, and no longer has to prove, that he has an effective connection to the Portuguese community.

It is true that, in 2019, an Internal Service Guideline was issued by the Central Registry Office, which determined the presumption of the existence of an effective connection to the national community by all minors under 14 years of age, with the aim, among others, of relieving the pressure that had been generated on the courts in the past with the submission of several legal actions opposing the acquisition of nationality by the Public Prosecutor’s Office.

However, in October 2022, Internal Guidance ceased to apply, and the Registry Services began to consider that a case-by-case analysis should be carried out and that situations in which the Registrars had well-founded suspicions of the lack of an effective connection to the national community should be reported to the Public Prosecutor’s Office, regardless of the age of the person concerned.

How can one justify the opposition to the acquisition of Portuguese nationality?

We are waiting to see whether the Conservatives will only report cases where they have “well-founded suspicions” that there is no effective link or whether they will do so in all cases, leaving it to the Public Prosecutor’s Office to investigate and, if it so decides and has sufficient evidence, to take legal action against the opposition to nationality.

It also remains to be seen whether the Public Prosecutor’s Office will file opposition actions in all cases, regardless of the evidence it can (or cannot) gather, leaving the final realization of justice in the case in the hands of the judges, or whether it will only file an opposition judiciously when it has evidence of the absence of an effective link.

In addition to these doubts, there is also perplexity and concern about the counting of the 1 year available to the Public Prosecutor’s Office to file an opposition. In 2022, the Portuguese Nationality Regulation was amended in such a way that the time limit will be counted from the date of registration of the acquisition of nationality, instead of the date of the fact on which the acquisition of nationality depends (i.e., the applicant’s manifestation of the will, which occurs with the submission of the file), and which was the solution previously in force.

This means that, as of April 15, 2022, and even about cases that were already pending on that date (except cases based on the descent of Sephardic Jews), the Public Prosecutor’s Office can now oppose the acquisition of nationality, even after it has already been registered in the Portuguese Civil Registry.

From our experience, we can say that there are already Civil Registry Officers who are notifying the interested parties in cases submitted more than 1 year ago that they may report their cases to the Public Prosecutor’s Office on the grounds of lack of effective connection to the national community.

However, we continue to follow these cases closely to see what the practice of the Civil Registry and the Public Prosecutor’s Office will lead to in these matters.

Do not hesitate to contact our team if you have any questions about this matter or need advice on any other related to obtaining Portuguese nationality or citizenship.

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Lamares, Capela & Associados is committed to protecting and respecting your privacy and we will only use your personal information to manage your account and provide the products and services you have requested. Occasionally, we would like to contact you about our products and services and also about other matters that may be of interest to you.
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