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PORTUGAL PUTS FORWARD A LARGE PACKAGE WITH PROPOSALS TO VISAS AND CREATES A SPECIAL PERMISSION

Portugal’s Council of Ministers has approved a series of changes for the granting of visas, including the creation of a special modality for individuals seeking employment in the country.


Portugal puts forward a large package with proposals to visas and creates a special permission for anyone wishing to enter national soil to find a job


A date for the appreciation of the project by the Parliament has yet not been defined, but the proposals are expected to be approved without many difficulties, considering that the currently ruling party, the Socialist Party, has a majority of the country’s Parliament.


One of the visa types will enable foreigners to get a job and be employed for a period of up to 120 days, with a chance of another 60 days of extension. The Government has also announced the creation of a new special authorization for citizens of the so-called Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe and East Timor.


The Agreement on Mobility among CPLP’s members was approved in July 2021, and it sets that each country has the freedom to create its own rules applicable for visas and their granting. The Agreement has already been ratified by the Portuguese Parliament, and now the creation of specific legislation to enforce is needed.


“In addition to honoring the history of relations with other countries of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries, this change is paramount to organize regular, secure and orderly migration flows, as well as to fight illegal immigration and human trafficking”, said Ana Catarina Mendes, Minister in the Cabinet of the Prime Minister and for Parliamentary Affairs.


The socialist party member reinforced also the importance of immigration for the Portuguese economy, stating that such changes will enable them “to respond to the urgent human resources needs” in the country.


Portugal has also promised to simplify the process for the migration of families, indicating the possibility of visas and residence authorizations for those who are accompanying family members. “Up to this point what happened was that an individual came to Portugal and only later on, upon regularization of that individual’s status, their family was allowed to come to the country”, Mendes declared.


The granting of residence visas to higher education students is also being simplified, now an opinion from the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) not being necessary anymore, to students who are enrolled in Portuguese universities. Moreover, the Government has announced the creation of special permissions for digital nomads. The idea is that professionals who provide services to companies outside the Portuguese territory, whether as an independent services provider or as a regular employee, are also given an option of a special modality of authorization.


Despite the fact these changes to visa rules do not yet have a date to be sanctioned, they were celebrated by associations that support immigrants. A permission for people who seek employment in Portugal is an old claim by these entities, who defend that immigrants should have a legal manner of having their entry to Portugal.


Nowadays, the major part of immigrants arrive in Portugal as tourists and find a job to work illegally, undergoing eventually a long and bureaucratic process of regularization for their stay. Furthermore, there is the possibility that these illegal immigrants have to pay a fine for having been in the country illegally and also the fact that such migrants who do not have legal documentation are more vulnerable to all sorts of exploitation.


“All these changes are extremely positive, as they allow for a stronger fight against the exploitation of migrants who are not legal in the country”, said Cyntia de Paula, president for the NGO Casa do Brasil de Lisboa.


Due to the overwhelming number of requests made to the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF), processes for becoming legal have been taking between two and three years to be concluded, that is if no type of problem arises with the documentation requested.


Specializing in immigration law, Raphaela Souza, with the consulting company Portugal para Todos, emphasizes that it is necessary to wait for the official release of the bill before any concrete analysis can be made on the announcements, but all signs suggest that the changes are relevant and important for the legal certainty of migrants. “It goes without saying that these changes also demonstrate how important immigrants are for the country’s in terms of demographic and economic aspects”.


The decision has found a cheerful celebration on social media. Less than one hour after the announcement, the profile called “Vou Mudar para Portugal” (or, in free translation, “I am moving to Portugal”, dedicated to covering migration to the country, had over 3,000 simultaneous viewers watching a live transmission on the subject. The number of Brazilians in Portugal has been growing over the past five years and reached, in 2021, the all-time high of 209,072 people, an increase of 13.6% compared to the previous year, 2020.


Brazilians have the lead as the largest community of immigrants in Portuguese territory, and represent 29.2% of all foreigners living legally in Portugal. However, it is claimed that the actual number is even higher, since the official data does not account for Brazilians who have dual citizenship, either Portuguese or from other European Union nations. People who have illegal immigrant status are also not part of the statistics.


The Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates that there are about 300 thousand Brazilians living in Portugal. However, Associations that work offering support to immigrants state that the actual number may be of up to 400 thousand people.

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