In accordance to the Organic Law nº2/2006 of 17 April, various alterations were introduced into the Law nº37/81 of 3 October (Law of Nationality), which substantially changed the rules for granting and obtaining the Portuguese nationality.
From within those alterations it is emphasized, for its impact, the reinforcement of the principle ius soli (Right of Territory), which embodies the target outlined in the Government’s Agenda, recognizing the right of citizenship to those with strong bonds with Portugal.
Indeed, the demographic movements that occurred in the last few years have determined that many descendents of immigrants, although of foreign nationality, have never known any other Country apart from Portugal; where they were born. Within this context, and in the assumption that it will be an important factor to minimize social deprivation, by the new Law Portuguese nationality is granted to children born in Portugal, whose parents are foreign, provided at least one of the parents was also born in this Country and resides here, independently from their legal position at the moment of birth, as well as to those born in Portuguese territory, whose parents are foreign but not working for their respective States, if they declare that they want to become Portuguese, with the condition that at the moment of birth at least one of the parents has resided here for a minimum of five years.
The limitation of discretionary judgement, by endorsing, in various cases, a Right of nationality, represents another significant innovation, which was granted by the mentioned Organic Law nº 2/2006 of 17 April. In addition, conditions to obtain Portuguese nationality were simultaneously diminished, by introducing a new concept of legal residence which is subject to proof of residence by means of any valid entitlement or visa, and no longer just by means of a residence permit, provided the required period of residence is accomplished.
It is also established that for granting Portuguese nationality to a legally resident foreign in Portugal, discrimination based on the original nationality ceases to exist, and is now required to all foreigners a six year period of residence. Another innovation is the equivalence of common-law marriage to marriage for the purpose of obtaining Portuguese nationality, for a foreign citizen who lives in cohabitation with a Portuguese citizen, provided the partnership is legally recognized.
The new nationality Law will also benefit the second generation Portuguese emigrants, allowing them an easier access to the Portuguese nationality, provided they prove that they have a second degree of kindred in ascending line to a Portuguese citizen.
Finally, the Aliens and Border Service will no longer have the assignment of receiving and processing the applications for obtaining the Portuguese nationality by naturalizing foreign citizens, which will now be dealt with by the Civil Registers (conservatórias do registo civil) and by the Central Registers (Conservatória dos Registos Centrais), thus concentrating / centralizing all applications for granting and obtaining the Portuguese nationality.
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