New “Grandchildren Law” Allows More People from Costa Rica and the Rest of Latin America to Access Spanish Citizenship

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    A new law, published this last Thursday in the Official Spanish State Gazette is officially called the Democratic Memory Law. But most of the Latin American newspapers that immediately echoed the news call it “Grandchildren’s Law” on their front pages.

    The reason for this curious denomination is simple: the new legislation extends access to Spanish nationality to thousands of descendants of Spaniards who were born abroad. The new regulation thus expands what is stipulated by the law approved in Spain in 2007, which is no longer in force.

    This established the possibility of acquiring nationality for those who had a Spanish father or mother of origin, and that it was applicable to their children, as long as they were minors.

    The three new groups

    Although the general objective of the law is to compensate the victims of the Spanish Civil War and the subsequent military government of Francisco Franco, what has caught the attention of the Latin American press is the eighth additional provision, which makes it easier to obtain a Spanish passport for three new groups:

    • Those born outside of Spain to a father or mother, grandfather or grandmother, who had originally been Spanish, and who, as a result of having suffered exile for political, ideological or belief reasons or sexual orientation and identity, had lost or renounced the Spanish nationality.
    • The sons and daughters born abroad of Spanish women who lost their nationality by marrying foreigners. This was before the entry into force of the 1978 Constitution.
    • The sons and daughters of legal age of those Spaniards whose nationality of origin was recognized by virtue of the right of option in accordance with the provisions of this law or in the seventh additional provision of Law 52/2007, of December 26th.

    The document specifies that this procedure must be formalized within two years from the entry into force of this law. “At the end of this period, the Council of Ministers may agree to extend it for one year,” concludes the eighth additional provision.

    No preparatory period

    The new law obtained the endorsement of the Spanish Senate after having obtained 128 positive votes, 113 negative and 18 abstentions. Until its approval, the grandchildren of Spaniards whose parents -born outside of Spain- had obtained nationality had the following age restrictions to access Spanish citizenship.

    Modified restrictions

    • Having been born before January 1985 and that the father or mother, born outside of Spain, obtained Spanish nationality before the interested party was born.
    • Being under 21 years of age and that the father or mother, born outside of Spain, acquired nationality before the interested party was born.
    • Be under 20 years of age and the father or mother, born outside of Spain, acquired nationality after the interested party was born and before they were 18 years of age.

    Latin American media, such as the newspaper Clarín from Argentina, point out that unlike the 2007 law, which established an additional term to process Spanish nationality, until the official agencies were prepared to receive the new applications, the current legislation does not establish any preparatory time period.

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