Thousands of Spanish descendants will now be able to access this nationality, even if their descendants lost it for "political, religious, or sexual identity and orientation" reasons.

The waiting time has been eternal and the negotiations between the Spanish Government and its partners in Parliament have been long, controversial and exhausting. So much so that the process seemed to have run aground months ago. However, the Grandchildren's Law is already a reality, at least in Congress, and now it will have to go to the Senate for its definitive approval. With it, any child or grandchild of Spaniards will be able to apply for Spanish nationality, even if their ancestors had lost it for political, ideological, belief or sexual orientation and identity reasons.

The Law of Democratic Memory, such is its official name, comes to settle a little more the debts that Spain has with its most recent past. Its objectives are clear. The recovery, safeguarding and dissemination of that memory, so battered by 40 years of dictatorship. And, by extension, "to promote cohesion and solidarity among the different generations around the constitutional principles, values and freedoms".

The fields of action of this new regulation are very diverse. But for hundreds of thousands of people around the world, especially in the American continent, the Grandchildren's Law entails, above all, a window of opportunity: access to Spanish nationality.

The law on grandchildren and Spanish nationality

Prior to this draft Law of Grandchildren (it was so called during the drafting process, but today it would be included in the so-called "Law of Democratic Memory"), access to Spanish nationality was much more restricted. As stated in the civil code, it could not be obtained if one was "20 years old or older", nor if one was "a descendant of Spaniards to the degree of grandchild, great-grandchild, great-great-grandchild and/or successive grandchildren", even if the "father/mother had acquired it after his/her birth or could still acquire it".

The new Law of Democratic Memory, through its eighth additional provision, corrects this previous regulation. It adds three new cases in which Spanish nationality can be requested:

  • If you were born outside Spain and you have a father, mother, grandfather or grandmother originally Spanish. Even in the case that these, as a consequence of having suffered exile for political, ideological or belief reasons or for reasons of sexual orientation and identity, have lost or renounced the Spanish nationality.
  • If you are the son or daughter born abroad of a Spanish woman who lost her nationality (i.e., the possibility of transmitting it to her descendants) by marrying a foreign person before the entry into force of the 1978 Constitution.
  • Or if you are the adult son or daughter of Spaniards whose nationality of origin was recognized by virtue of the right of option with the Law of Historical Memory of 2007.

It should be noted that this new Law does not set an age limit for applicants. Also, since its entry into force, the interested parties will have two years to apply for the Spanish nationality by option, with the possibility of extension for one more year.

The precedent: Historical Memory Law of 2007

The Law of Grandchildren or Law of Democratic Memory is not born out of nothing, but is heir to a regulation that already opened the doors of Spanish nationality to numerous children and grandchildren of migrants in this country: the Law of Historical Memory of 2007. In fact, in a sense, this 2022 legislation is something like its evolution.

From its approval in October 2007 until the end of the period granted in 2011, the Law of Historical Memory already opened the doors of the country to numerous descendants of Spaniards born in Latin America. Without going any further, some 150,000 Cubans were able to gain access to Spanish citizenship during those years, and this law was one of the main reasons behind the increase in the number of Spaniards living abroad.

It would be logical to expect that, now, with this new Law of Grandchildren, the consequences will be similar to those of 15 years ago.

The controversy: Popular Party (PP) and repeal

Of course, this Law of Democratic Memory is not exempt from controversy and criticism. A few days after the way to its final approval was opened, the PP, the main opposition party, already pledged to repeal it. It did so through its secretary general and candidate in the next general elections, Alberto Núñez Feijóo.

So, although the Grandchildren's Law is undoubtedly good news for the descendants of Spaniards around the world, it cannot be said that it is something that is here to stay. Increasingly, the world is a place that is very susceptible to change. And so we will have to keep our eyes open.

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