There was great concern among the Sephardic community and their descendants, applicants for Spanish nationality, because of the enormous difficulties in carrying out many of the pending procedures for their files.
The situation caused by COVID 19 has affected all public sector procedures, leading in most cases to the cancellation of initiation procedures, the suspension of deadlines and terms in those cases pending resolution, and the halting of procedures due to the closure of most public offices.
In this specific procedure of acquisition of nationality by letter of nature, there are also other procedures that, in the current circumstances, are insurmountable, including appearance before a notary in Spain at a time when international borders are blocked and the transport of travellers is restricted. This is not to mention that the activity of notaries is currently reduced to urgent actions.
As we reported at the time, in the specific case of applications for Spanish nationality submitted by Sephardics under Law 12/2015 of 24 June, although processing has been resumed, as reported by the Ministry of Justice in a Resolution of 27 March 2020, this only affects those applications that had already passed the notarial appearance procedure and had been sent telematically to the Council of Notaries.
Therefore, the question that was in the air and that affected tens of thousands of open files was what was going to happen with these procedures that had already been initiated, but whose proceedings had been suspended or postponed due to the situation of COVID 19 and whose deadline was to expire on 1 October 2020? Although RD 463/20 of 14 March already established in its Third Additional Provision the suspension of all administrative deadlines until the end of the state of alarm, the Directorate General for Legal Security and Public Faith wanted to overcome this concern and, with good judgement, agreed to grant an additional extension for the completion of those files whose procedures had been affected by the current international situation. Although the wording of this rule is confusing, the following can be understood from it:
1. The deadlines for completing and/or correcting applications with pending documents and formalities are extended until September 1, 2021.
2. From this date, the applicant would have a period of 3 months to choose a notary. That is, until 30 November 2021.
3. In principle, there is no specific legal time limit for signing the notarial deed once a notary has been chosen. However, the aforementioned Resolution establishes that the notary may expressly request the applicant to sign, and if the applicant does not respond, his request will expire three months after the request has been made, so that the time limit for signing before a notary in Spain will be extended to at least the end of February 2022.
We believe that this new calendar of actions will produce a certain calm among the Sephardic community, although it is subject to the situation being definitively overcome by the COVID19 and full international mobility being re-established.
Larrauri & Martí Abogados