One of the things that has been talked about more over the last two years, particularly as a possible response to the UK exit from the EU, is the option to apply for Portuguese citizenship. Of course there are rules to follow, but something that has arisen for at least one afpop Member is an obstacle that we had not experienced previously.
An afpop member had almost completed the process and paid the various fees along the way, to be rejected at the final assessment because he had previously served in the Armed Forces (Royal Navy) and at the time of his service had sworn an Oath of Allegiance to the British (in his case) Crown and government. The reasoning was that an Oath to one country was deemed to be binding and that therefore there could not be an allegiance to two countries.
Setting aside the fact that the Oath of Allegiance is only in effect for the time of the service in question, there is no Oath of Allegiance required to become a Portuguese citizen as far as we are aware, so the reasoning as far as we can establish is flawed from the outset. We are assisting the Member in challenging this ruling and when it was raised with the Minister for Foreign Affairs, he not only didn’t know of this potential bar to citizenship, but he was as astonished as we were to hear of its existence.
The reason for this article is to first of all warn other ex-service personnel who may be thinking of applying that they may have a similar hurdle to overcome, particularly as it is our understanding that police officers also undertake an Oath and may experience a similar problem, but also to ask if there are any ex-service personnel who have successfully obtained Portuguese citizenship to contact us. Of course we do not wish to cause a problem for anyone who has obtained their citizenship, but we would like to discuss their application and see if there as anything that the Member could have done before applying.
A reply was received in late August from the Algarve MP, Jamila Madeira, to a request for the matter to be investigated, which was asked for by the Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Augusto Santos Silva in January. The reply given was that politicians are not able to intervene in judicial processes, in order to keep government separate from the judiciary.
This was already understood and was not what was being asked for. The request for the issue of ex-service personnel being barred from taking Portuguese citizenship as a result of their Oath of service was restated, but is almost certainly not going to be looked at this year due to the impending Portuguese elections.
The matter will be raised again with whomever is appointed as Minister for Foreign Affairs in the new government.
We will of course keep afpop Members and ADN readers informed of any development in the original application.
Anyone who has any experience in this can contact the CEO of afpop in confidence to discuss the matter via the firstname.lastname@example.org e-mail address and marking the e-mail ‘Confidential – for the CEO’.