Spanish King Felipe VI has presided over a ceremony welcoming a new citizenship law for descendants of Sephardic Jews expelled five centuries ago, saying Spain had missed them.

Addressing representatives of Spanish Jewish associations and political leaders Monday in Madrid's Royal Palace, Felipe said that Sephardic Jews — as those who once lived in the Iberian peninsula are known — were now back "at home" in Spain.

Justice Minister Rafael Catala said that since the law was passed Oct. 1 there have been nearly 600 citizenship applications and 10,000 information requests.

In October, Spain also granted citizenship to 4,302 people whose Jewish ancestors fled after being told in 1492 to convert to Catholicism or go into exile ahead of the Spanish Inquisition that saw many Jews burned at the stake.