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Record number of foreign residents become Spanish citizens
07 June 2021 @ 07:14

OVER 126,000 residents in Spain acquired citizenship last year – a rise of 27.5% and the highest figure seen since 2016's record of 151,000.

During the three years after that, numbers of people taking Spanish nationality had steadily declined, at one point reaching an all-time low of just under 66,500.

But 2020 saw a spike in citizenship applications being granted – despite its being a year when offices were closed to the public and life in general was on hold.

The vast majority of those who got their Spanish passports in 2020 were Moroccan, a total of 28,258, followed by 9,010 Colombians and 8,328 Ecuadorians.

In the latter two cases, applicants would only have needed to accredit two years of permanent legal residence in Spain, the minimum required for citizens of the western Mediterranean nation's former colonies and Portugal; the Moroccan applicants, like those from any other country not part of the one-time Spanish Empire or its western neighbour, would have had to have been legally resident for at least 10 years.

Immediate Spanish citizenship is granted in a handful of cases, mostly as historic redress or gratitude: Direct descendants of the Sephardic Jews thrown out of Spain by the Inquisition in the late 15th century are one of these, and a high number of these descendants are based in Israel and Turkey; and the nearest surviving first-degree family members of any of the volunteers who served as part of the International Brigades to help fight fascism during the Spanish Civil War, and who come from over 50 countries, including the UK and even nations under fascist rule themselves at the time where their citizens opposed the régime.

In these cases, Spanish nationality is granted as an 'honorary' measure and can coexist with any other citizenship the holder has, even where dual or multiple nationality is not otherwise permitted by law.



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