Roman Abramovich becomes EU citizen through Portugal

Roman Abramovich could have easily obtained any citizenship in the world. Still, he chose Portugal!

Fighting the red tape in the United Kingdom

Roman Abramovich, the Russian billionaire has long been fighting the red tape to get sustainable residence in the UK. Fact is, that he has become a hostage of the political tensions between his homeland Russia and the west, the UK in particular. Obviously, for someone with his resources, a more sustainable solution had to be found. And Mr Abramovich did indeed find it, through the wisest way possible.

The Portuguese citizenship solution of Roman Abramovich

Obviously Mr Abramovich could have obtained EU citizenship much earlier. There were investment citizenship EU programs for him to pick from – Cyprus, Bulgaria, Malta. But he played his cards more wisely. Rather than being accused of buying an instant passport with a fraction of his money, he did it the right way – through his Jewish roots. And he also picked the best country – Portugal.

Roman Abramovich could have also opted for the Portuguese Golden Visa. But he had even better option, namely through naturalization on basis of his Sephardic Jewish roots.

Portuguese citizenship for Sephardic Jews

The Portuguese nationality law foresees special procedure for descendants of Sephardic Jews who have left the country many years ago.

The Government may grant citizenship by naturalization, without the requirements to have legally resided for 5 years in Portugal and to know Portuguese, to descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews. The applicants must demonstrate the tradition of belonging to a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin, based on proven objective requirements for connection to Portugal, namely surnames, family language, direct or collateral descent.

Art. 6, par. 7 of the Portuguese Nationality Law

From documents of the Justice Ministry, it appears that Mr Abramovich should have obtained his Portuguese citizenship on 30.04.2021. Obviously he has met all the prerequisite of our nationality law and has successfully obtained Portuguese citizenship and passport.

What would the Portuguese passport mean for Roman Abramovich

As the UK is no more member of the EU, the EU (Portuguese) passport of Mr Abramovich wouldn’t directly grant him residence rights in the UK. The bad news is that he must still to fight the UK point-based post-Brexit system. For that, he will need to meet specific requirements in order to obtain residence in the UK. This is still a lot of hassle, but much, much less than if he had to count on his Israeli or Russian citizenship.

The good news for Mr Abramovich is that the EU passport will open many doors to him. Not only the unconditional right to reside anywhere in the EU plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland. He will also get visa-free right of travel to huge number of countries, including the USA. Nothing that his Israeli or Russian passport can provide for him. Nor his UK residence permit (visa).

We are far from the idea that all these bureaucratic hurdles have been a serious problem for Roman Abramovich. Still, the EU citizenship provides certain important rights, that would otherwise need to be fought for. And even for Mr Abramovich, it is better to have the rights rather than having to fight for them.

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