Citizenship for Children of PT Passport Holders - Solution?

I know a lot of are wondering how to make this work — make sure our minor children also get PT citizenship.
After much back and forth with my lawyer I think I understood it.
In our case, our son just turned 13 and because he is still waiting for his first GV card that he applied for together with me and his mother in March 2021 he cannot apply for citizenship before he turns 18. That is because he won’t have 5 years of residency that is a condition to prove a link to the Portuguese community.
(NB I got my residency in April last year but for my dependents it’s been much more complicated - though they did at least get final approval and DUC fees have been paid)

Since hopefully with the new law on citizenship my wife and I can apply for PT citizenship in 2026 that means we should receive it in 2028.
For our son his best route will be to get permanent residency as the family member of an EU citizen as soon as he fulfils the criteria of 5 years of legal residency — hopefully soon after he turns 18.
That is valid for 10 years initially. Enough time to apply for and receive citizenship.

As others have pointed out - the Catch 22 is that you need to have a valid residency card during the entire citizenship application process.
And if the main GV holder bas got PT citizenship his/her dependents can’t extend their GV cards anymore.
So I think this solves it.

So according to my lawyer, the new citizenship law should also apply here, e.g. assuming it counts from initial application your son’s 5 years (for proving connection) should count from 2021. So by 2026, you son will have been “resident for 5 years” for purpose of the citizenship law, which is sufficient to prove connection.

But you can check with your lawyer if they agree with that interpretation.

One of the requirement for children (who were not born in Portugal soil and do not have portuguese parents) is that they are only allowed to apply after one of their parent obtain portuguese citizenship.

If they want to apply themselves, they need to wait until they are over 18 and they can apply as an individual adult.

For minors who want to request PT nationality because a parent has acquired it, there is also the requirement to either be in a Portuguese school or have completed at least a year of schooling in Portugal.
So waiting until the child turns 18 is much easier I think.

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It is not a year of schooling. It is 5 years!

https://dre.pt/dre/detalhe/decreto-lei/26-2022-180657814

Artigo 56.º
4 - A Conservatória dos Registos Centrais presume que existe ligação efetiva à comunidade nacional quando, no momento do pedido, o interessado, que seja menor ou maior acompanhado que careça de representação para o ato, resida legalmente em território português nos cinco anos imediatamente anteriores ao pedido e, sendo menor em idade escolar, comprove ainda a frequência escolar em estabelecimento de ensino em território português.

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@meyerhenry6243 a 10 year card sounds great but one question, what is the residence requirement to maintain this 10 year card? Will your son have to live majority of the time in Portugal to not abandon it?

The conditions are set out here

According to what I understood, the residence permit will remain valid for 10 years providing you are not absent from Portugal for more than 2 consecutive years - there do not appear to be any minimum stay requirements
My lawyer added this: The residence permit requires the holder to actually live in Portugal if they want to renew it

@meyerhenry6243 thanks for the link! It appears the residency requirement is indeed lower once you have the PR itself, but there may be stringent requirements on the 5 years to qualify for the PR? From your link:

Family members of EU citizenswho do not have European nationality are entitled to permanent residence in Portugal provided that they have legally resided with the EU citizen of whom they are family members, in national territory for five consecutive years.

To count the five years of residence in Portugal, temporary absences of up to six consecutive months per year, or absences of up to twelve consecutive months, for justified reasons, such as: pregnancy or childbirth, serious illness, studies or professional training, or work posting to another country, do not count.

Perhaps you can argue that studying in your home country counts as one of those exceptions. If that’s the case, then this seems like a great method to ensure children qualify for citizenship.

Although even so, I’d say there’s no harm in applying earlier based on your citizenship, and only pursuing this other route if they are denied due to “lack of connection”. Since this is subjective, they may be approved, and save you the subsequent trouble.

My lawyer is now muddying the waters. Sent me a message saying that in her opinion “it is not possible to apply for permanent residence without first holding a temporary family residence permit”. She then adds though that this is not the understanding of their entire legal team.
Would be useful if you can ask your lawyers what they say about this.
Ie is a family member of an EU citizen eligible for permanent residency (10 years) after 5 years of legal residency under a GV

@meyerhenry6243 I think a lot of these laws are fuzzy. I can think of only 2 ways to guarantee citizenship for children under 18:

  1. Maintain your GV until they are 18 and have them naturalize. If you’re especially paranoid, ensure their citizenship is fully processed before you (the primary applicant) naturalize.
  2. Naturalize while they are under 18, and fulfill these conditions to guarantee recognition of their connection to Portugal (this may require moving to Portugal for a year or two and enrolling them in school):
    https://dre.pt/dre/detalhe/decreto-lei/26-2022-180657814

Artigo 56.º
4 - A Conservatória dos Registos Centrais presume que existe ligação efetiva à comunidade nacional quando, no momento do pedido, o interessado, que seja menor ou maior acompanhado que careça de representação para o ato, resida legalmente em território português nos cinco anos imediatamente anteriores ao pedido e, sendo menor em idade escolar, comprove ainda a frequência escolar em estabelecimento de ensino em território português.

But, I have spoken to lawyers specializing in citizenship who say that in practice, this isn’t necessary, and there are much easier things you can do to prove connection, and if you do enough of them it is close to guaranteed. I can PM you contact details if you wish to contact them yourself.

For myself, I think one backup plan if our kids are refused citizenship despite several years of GV, is to consider going to another EU country instead. For example, as a Portuguese citizen, our kids would be entitled to get a permit to study at university in Ireland as dependents of EU citizen. Five years in Ireland and they can get an Irish passport.

I agree with your analysis of the requirements. Still it would be interesting to get contacts of the lawyers who specialise in citizenship. I will PM you.

I raised the question of passing citizenship to minors to my lawyers.
In short they pointed out the below points

  • clean criminal records
  • the minor needs to be registered with the Portuguese National Health System and the Tax Authority - I assume this is about getting a NIF number for the minor
  • is attending an education establishment in Portugal or “having strong ties with the country…” I understand that there are different ways to show strong ties with Portugal.

I was told minor being enrolled into a summer school, frequent trips to country, or having a residency permit can all be means. I assume there might be different ways to prove or establish connections…

In particular (apart from the schooling) I wonder if the 5 years of legal residency is an iron-cast requirement? Annoyingly my son who is 13 only just got his GV after a 3 1/2 year wait.

@meyerhenry6243 The law says 5 years residency + enrollment in school is sufficient to establish a presumption of connection. So if you have those, there is no grey area.

But it doesn’t say those are necessary. They might be satisfied with less.

Remember that for the purposes of citizenship law, the 5 years are now counted from application, not first card. That applies to minors too since it is the same citizenship law that enables derivative citizenship for minors.