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Over 500,000 seek Spanish citizenship

Spain,Immigration/Law/Rights, Mon, 02 Apr 2012 IANS

Madrid, April 2 (IANS/EFE) A total of 503,439 people, most of them in Latin America, have requested Spanish nationality by virtue of a law according to which the descendants of Spaniards who went into exile during the country's Civil War and Francoist dictatorship may once again become Spaniards.

 

Of those petitions filed at Spain's 183 consulates abroad, Spanish authorities so far have approved 241,763, or almost half, the Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Ministry said in a communique.

 

A broad majority of the requests - 477,462 - were filed in Latin America, representing 94.8 percent of the total.

 

The three-year-period established by the Spanish government for descendants of those who fled Spain between July 18, 1936, and Dec 31, 1955, to request Spanish citizenship ended last Dec 27.

 

The law, approved in late 2007, says that the children of a father or mother who originally had been Spanish and the grandchildren of anyone who lost or had to renounce Spanish nationality because they were in exile are eligible to apply.

 

In the first "children" group are 92.3 percent of the people (464,858) who filed for citizenship, while just 6.3 percent (32,141) are in the "grandchildren" group, according to ministry data.

 

All the applicants must be able to provide some recognized justification or documentation for their claim that their parents or grandparents were exiles.

 

It is estimated that once the review of all applications is completed, Spain will have granted citizenship to more than 400,000 people.

 

Of the requests, 32 percent were filed in 2009, 26.2 percent in 2010 and 41.7 percent last year.

 

The government in Madrid has already issued 164,509 passports to people who requested them once they had been granted citizenship.

 

--IANS/EFE

 

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