Portuguese Citizenship By Marriage: Joining Your Spouse In Portugal
Over 10% of applications to obtain Portuguese citizenship are made by those who are married to an individual who is already a citizen. While some routes to citizenship are fairly simple, unfortunately the citizenship by marriage process isn’t. Given that the consequences of a declined application can be dire for the relationship concerned, it is always recommended that legal advice is sought before anyone embarks on the application journey. With the correct guidance and support, the stress can be lessened throughout the application process and the chances of success maximised.
Portugal is a popular place for Canadian nationals and overseas citizens to live and work in, and the scope of relationships covered by the citizenship by marriage is broad; making it a great prospect for couples who don’t necessarily adhere to conventional relationship boundaries.
- Portuguese Citizenship By Marriage: Joining Your Spouse In Portugal
- Eligibility For Citizenship By Marriage
- Grounds Of Opposition
- All The Documentation Requirements For Portuguese Citizenship By Marriage
- Fees Associated With The Application
- Step By Step How To Apply For Portugal Citizenship By Marriage
- The Application Processing Time
- How Can Total Law Help
- Frequently Asked Questions
Eligibility For Citizenship By Marriage
The eligibility criteria for gaining Portuguese citizenship by marriage differs somewhat from standard routes to obtaining nationality.
Firstly, the applicant must be able to demonstrate that they maintain “an effective connection with the Portuguese community”. This exists where the applicant:
- Is a native and national of any Portuguese-speaking state and is married to or has lived in a non-marital partnership with a Portuguese citizen for a period of at least five years
- Is a native and national of any Portuguese-speaking state and has a child or children of Portuguese origin with their partner
- Is proficient in the Portuguese language and is married to or has lived in a non-marital partnership with a Portuguese citizen for a period of at least five years
- Has legally resided within Portuguese territory for at least six years immediately before the application and is registered with the Portuguese Tax Administration and National Health Service
- Has legally resided within Portuguese territory for at least three years immediately before the application and attends an educational institution in the territory, is able to demonstrate proficient knowledge of the Portuguese language and is registered with the Portuguese Tax Administration and National Health Service.
The first three are clearly demonstrable through a relationship with a Portuguese national.
Providing the applicant’s relationship meets the criteria above, further eligibility criteria must be met. These include that the applicant:
- Is aged over 18
- Is able to prove that the marriage or union is existent and valid at the time of application
- Has their marriage or union registered in the Portuguese registry system
- Has not been convicted of anything pertaining to be a crime under Portuguese law
- Has not carried out non-mandatory military service in any country other than Portugal
- Has not entered into the marriage or union purely to become a Portuguese citizen.
Providing the above criteria are all reached, Canadian nationals are free to apply for nationality through the Portuguese citizenship by marriage route.
If the marriage or union was celebrated anywhere other than Portugal, it must be legally transcribed there. For couples in a non-marital partnership, judicial recognition of the union must be obtained. Where a deed recognising the union has been issued in another country, this may be approved by a Portuguese court of competent jurisdiction.
Grounds Of Opposition
Portuguese law stipulates several grounds of opposition, which are circumstances relating to an applicant under which a nationality application is likely to be rejected. These include:
- Carrying a conviction of a crime punishable by law in Portugal
- Posting a threat to public health, public order or national security
- Providing falsified documents to support the application
- Performing non-mandatory military service in any country other than Portugal
- Entering into a marriage or union with a Portuguese citizen purely to gain nationality
- Applying for Portuguese citizenship by marriage after the marriage or relationship has ended.
Many of these ‘grounds of opposition’ are covered by the eligibility criteria but it should be noted that they will be thoroughly investigated into and so should never be misrepresented on an application.
All The Documentation Requirements For Portuguese Citizenship By Marriage
Several supporting documents must be sent along with the application in order to demonstrate eligibility. This includes documentation from the applicant and from their partner.
The applicant is required to provide:
- A copy of their birth certificate, legalized by an Apostille or (where applicable) a Portuguese Consulate
- A copy of their valid, in-date passport
- FBI Nationwide Criminal Record authenticated by Apostille
- A receipt of the payment of application fees
- A criminal record check from their home country as well as any other country resided in for more than six months
- Proof that they have never served in foreign armed forces
- (If not married for more than five years) A handwritten letter in Portuguese detailing the reason for the citizenship request.
The Portuguese spouse is required to provide:
- A copy of their valid, in-date Portuguese passport and ID
- The Complete Narrative Birth Certificate, including due integration of the marriage or union
- (Where engaged) A statement from the bride or partner/s about the name they intend to use after marriage
- (Where married) The long-form Marriage certificate that corresponds to the ceremony type (religious or civil) legalized by the Apostille by the Government of the country where the marriage took place.
A failure to include appropriate documentation may delay the citizenship application or result in its failure.
Fees Associated With The Application
The fees payable with applying for Portuguese nationality depends on the individual circumstances of the application. However, in most cases for citizenship by marriage applications, the application processing cost is €250.
This fee is required for the application to be processed, and it will not be progressed without it. The amount is non-refundable, even in the event of the application being denied.
Step One: Register the marriage or union
If the marriage or union to a Portuguese citizen took place anywhere other than Portugal, it needs to be registered in the country. This can be done at the Portuguese Consulate local to the area where the wedding took place or will take place. This process is known as the ‘transcription of the marriage’. Between two to three months later, the Portugal Consulate will supply a certificate confirming the union’s recognition.
Step Two: Complete the application
Once all the relevant supporting documents have been compiled, the application form can be completed. All documents must be sent to the relevant Civil Registry Office and the processing fee paid. While being processed, the Portuguese immigration authorities may request further information or documentation and the processing of the application will be paused until this is supplied.
Step Three: Maintain ‘effective connection to the Portuguese community’
Although an ‘effective connection to the Portuguese community’ is demonstrated through the maintenance of a relationship with a Portuguese national, those who don’t have children with their partner or have been married for over six years will find continuing such service beneficial to their application. This includes the ‘performance of useful activities that benefit the community or culture of Portugal’ or moves to own property in the country. Evidence should be kept where such activities do happen in case of later information requests.
Step Four: Pass the Portuguese culture and language test
The Certificado Inicial de Portugues Lingua Estrangeira is a two-hour exam comprised of 45% reading and writing, 30% oral understanding and 25% oral expression. This test should be taken and passed at any approved examination centre.
Step Five: Receive citizenship confirmation!
While it is a fairly lengthy process, should all of the prior steps be completed thoroughly, the citizenship should be granted and confirmed.
The Application Processing Time
Every Portuguese citizenship application is processed on a bespoke basis and so with a back-and-forth dialogue often happening for further information and documentation requests, this can be a lengthy route to nationality. However, on average, most of those who obtain Portuguese citizenship by marriage find the process takes between one and two years from start to finish.
How Can Total Law Help
Total Law’s team of lawyers are immigration specialists and have helped numerous Canadian and Portuguese spouses start their new lives in Portugal. Guiding you every step of the way through the relationship recognition and the application process, our team will support you throughout.
With no appeal procedure in place for failed applications and important personal relationships at stake, it’s no surprise that most applicants choose to seek help before embarking on their application. Total Law’s services include the audit of all supporting documentation, assistance in the completion of the application form and specialist professional legal advice. A fast-track package is also offered to speed up the process for you should time be a consideration in your application. No matter how complex the situation or relationship, the Total Law team can help! We know that no two relationships are the same, and so we work on every application on a bespoke basis suited exactly to you.
Call us now on +1 844 290 6312 to discuss your circumstances.
Comprehensive immigration advice tailored to your circumstances and goals.
Designed to make your visa application as smooth and stress-free as possible.
Fast Track Package
Premium application service that ensures your visa application is submitted to meet your deadline.
Ensure you have the greatest chance of a successful appeal. We will represent you in any case.
The Advice Package
During this untimed Advice Session with our professional immigration lawyers in London, you will receive our comprehensive advice, completely tailored to your needs and your situation.
The Application Package
With our Application Package, your dedicated immigration lawyer will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your caseworker will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.
The Fast Track Package
Our Fast-Track Application Package is a premium service for those who need to submit their application in time with their deadlines. Your case will become a top priority for our lawyers and you will benefit from our highest-quality services.
The Appeal Package
By choosing our Appeal Package, you can rely on our lawyers’ legal knowledge and experience to ensure you have the highest chance of a successful appeal. We will also fully represent you in any hearings/tribunals.
A citizenship by marriage route is available for Portugal, and caters for both married couples and those in non-marital long-term relationships.
A two-hour exam of Portuguese language known as The Certificado Inicial de Portugues Lingua Estrangeira must be passed in order to be granted citizenship. This test can be taken at any designated exam centre, details of which can be obtained from any Portugal Consulate or Embassy.
Providing the marriage was valid at the time of application for citizenship, the naturalised person’s Portuguese citizenship will remain in the event of divorce or separation.
Portugal does not allow for appeals in the event of a declined citizenship application. As a result, it is always recommended that applicants seek legal advice in order to stand the best possible chance of being successful.