The Portuguese Constitutional Court has decided, by majority, that the latest proposed Nationality Law changes do not raise any constitutionality issues.

A big change in this law clarifies the starting point for the five years to residency to the time of submission of the application.  As a result, the time that residency applications are pending will count towards the five years required for the citizenship application.

Anyone already waiting for approval, or considering taking part in, Portugal's golden visa scheme will therefore benefit from this.

In a briefing note by Anna Rita Reis, senior partner at Edge international lawyers, she comments: "We recall that these changes to the Nationality Law had been passed in Parliament in early January but the President of the Republic had sent them to the Portuguese Constitutional Court for preventive review of its constitutionality.  The doubts of the President were only related to a particular article regarding the acquisition of nationality through Sephardic descent, she said.

"However, the judges from the Constitutional Court have considered that the law, in essence, does not harm the legitimate expectations of citizenship applicants and neither does it directly jeopardize the lives or the dignity of the human person nor does it materialize any restriction of rights, freedoms and guarantees.

"As a result, following this ruling by the Portuguese Constitutional Court, the President should, within the next 20 days, sign off the law, which will then be published in the official gazette and become effective."