Portugal is following Spain and granting citizenship rights to the descendants of Jews it persecuted 500 years ago.

The government approved Thursday a change to its nationality law that provides dual citizenship rights for Sephardic Jews — the term commonly used for those who once lived in the Iberian peninsula. Spain adopted a similar law last year

Applicants will be vetted by Portuguese Jewish community institutions, as well as by government agencies.

After Spain drove out Jews in 1492, some 80,000 of them crossed the border into Portugal, historians estimate.

Portugal's monarch initially offered them shelter, but four years later demanded they convert or leave. When they started leaving, his successor King Manuel I prohibited their departure and forced them to convert, becoming so-called New Christians.

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