We should remember that the validity of Law 12/2015 on the granting of Spanish nationality for Sephardim expired on October 1st, 2019. However, due to the complexity of some of the procedures imposed by this law on the applicants, such as taking knowledge tests of Spain’s socio-cultural reality or of the Spanish language, and given the delays in obtaining certain documents and certificates, such as the one from the Federation of Jewish Communities of Spain (FCJE) proving their Sephardic origin, the General Directorate of Registries and Notaries, (DGRN), issued a Circular on September 9th, 2019, clarifying some issues related to the deadlines for submitting the application for Spanish nationality by Sephardim with origins in Spain, and granting a one-year extension to those applicants who started their applications before October 1st, 2019 so that they could submit some documents later.
Recently, Royal Decree 463/2020 of March 14th, which declares the state of alert in Spain, once again suspends the extension of the deadlines fixed by Law 12/2015, providing that: "the terms and deadlines for the processing of procedures by public entities shall be suspended. The computation of the terms shall recommence at the time when such Royal Decree or, where appropriate, any extensions thereof become ineffective". It should be understood that such deadlines are suspended as from the state of alert’s declaration, and shall be resumed when the alert state, whether initial or extended, disappears for the remaining period of time and never starting from the beginning under any circumstances. In other words, the terms “are resumed” but not "reset".
Thus, several situations may take place:
1.- Those applications for nationality that have already been completed, that count with the pertinent certificate of notoriety and that have already been submitted to the DGRN and are pending resolution. In these cases, by application of RD 463/2020, the 12-month term established by the law for the resolution of nationality applications is suspended, and its computation shall recommence as from the end of the state of alert. This interruption of the deadlines also affects the period of 15 months that must elapse since the certificate has been sent to the DGRN in order to be able to file an administrative appeal requesting the Administration to expressly resolve the application.
2.- Those applications already filed which were pending the submission of one or more documents (CCSE/ DELE exams, certificate from the FCJE or any others) for justified reasons. Such applications are also affected by the suspension. The Circular from the General Directorate of Registries and Notaries fixed September 9th, 2020 as the deadline for the submission of the documents, which must be extended, at least, while the state of alert declared on March 14th is in force.
As for the CCSE or DELE exams, Instituto Cervantes has postponed all CCSE exams scheduled for March and April until May / June (however, such dates are overly optimistic since many offices will not be able to hold the exams on such dates either). As for the DELE exams scheduled for April and May, they have been cancelled until further notice. In both cases, as we are dealing with a suspension practiced by a Spanish public institution, the term must be deemed extended until new exams are called, although we believe that it will still be essential to justify your registration for these exams. Likewise, proof of having passed the tests must be provided within 3 months of the result being obtained.
With regard to the certificates of Sephardic origin issued by the FCJE, the latter maintains its activity these days according to what they have stated by means of a communication in their platform.
3.- Finally, we must contemplate the situation of those applications that were pending signature before a Notary Public in Spain. With regard to notarial activity, it should be noted that both notaries and registrars will not cease their activity due to the coronavirus crisis, although they will reduce the same to exceptional procedures. The General Council of Notaries points out that, since Notaries are public offices, "they cannot close". However, the general rule is not to appear in person, and to do so only for urgent actions, as well as those expressly determined by the Government.
Here, we can hardly believe that the granting of the Notary’s certificate in order to determine the Sephardic origin of the interested party, which is a face-to-face and strictly personal procedure, may be considered urgent in the current context; therefore, the criterion of the impossibility of signing due to force majeure, which prevents the normal functioning of the service, must be applied here. As in the previous two cases, once the provision of the notary services is resumed in a standardised manner, the computation of the terms, interrupted until then, shall continue.
Larrauri & Martí Abogados