British expats warning as woman denied Spanish citizenship for ‘speaking wrong language’ | World | News

A Catalan speaking woman who has lived in Mallorca for almost 20 years has been denied citizenship because she failed to demonstrate her knowledge of Spanish to a judge.

Under citizenship rules in Spain, a foreigner who wants to obtain Spanish nationality has to meet a certain standard of the country’s official language.

Most Spanish citizens speak Castilian Spanish, but the woman, who arrived in Mallorca in 1996 and settled in the Santa Margalida region, is a Catalan speaker.

She applied for Spanish citizenship but during an interview with a judge failed to demonstrate the required level of Castilian Spanish.

Undeterred, the woman appealed the ruling, claiming she knows Catalan and uses it with her neighbours in Santa Margalida.

She said her expectation was the judge would ask her questions in Catalan and she was unsettled when he didn’t.

The woman was illiterate when she arrived in Spain, but completed courses provided for foreigners by her local council, according to the news website Diario de Ibiza.

She argued the language she uses is Catalan and admitted struggling to understand Castilian Spanish. The woman provided the court with official certificates to prove she had studied Catalan, which is also an official language spoken in parts of Spain, including Mallorca.

Spanish courts haven’t faced such a case before, with only cases centred around knowledge of Castilian Spanish considered previously and not Catalan, Diario de Ibiza reported.

Spain’s four official languages are: Castilian Spanish, commonly known as Spanish and spoken by a majority in Spain; Catalan, spoken in Catalonia, Valencia, parts of Aragon and the Balearic Islands; Galician, and finally Basque, which is spoken in the region of the same name as well as Navarre.

Without Spanish citizenship, the woman cannot vote in elections or become a citizen of the European Union.

Judges in prior rulings have defended the argument that knowledge of a country’s official language plays an important part in social integration.

The woman’s case acts as a warning to British expats considering applying for Spanish citizenship but who do not speak Castilian Spanish.

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