Spain has moved closer to approving legislation aimed at granting citizenship to descendants of Sephardic Jews who were expelled during the Spanish Inquisition.
On Wednesday evening, the Spanish parliament approved the law, which will now head to the Spanish senate for consideration. The law is expected to go into effect in May, with the citizenship-application process beginning at the end of 2015.
According to the draft law, the applicants would first need to prove their Sephardic background through either their local Jewish community or a direct family link. Authorities also may accept applicants with a Sephardic surname or the ability to speak Ladino, the Spanish-Hebrew hybrid language. Next, the applicants would need to show a special connection to Spain such as speaking Spanish, in addition to taking a basic test about the country.
Spanish Justice Minister Alberto Ruiz Gallardon first introduced the legislation early last year. Gallardon said at the time that the bill would repair “one of the most significant errors” in Spanish history.
The Spanish government estimates that about 90,000 people of Sephardic heritage will apply for citizenship, which will give them the right to live, work, and travel throughout the European Union, the Financial Times reported. But the government expects that most applicants for citizenship won’t actually live in Spain, but will instead use a Spanish passport as a secondary one.