Changes within the Portuguese Immigration system

The changes within the Portuguese Immigration system continue to be announced, following the program of the current Government.

With the publication of the State Budget for 2021, some of the exemption rules announced for 2020 are now extended for 2021, in particular:

  • During 2021, the temporary residence permit foreseen in paragraph 1 of article 75 of the Immigration Law becomes valid for a period of 2 years from the date of issue of the respective title and renewable for successive periods of 3 years.

It is important to highlight that this rule is not applicable to residence permits subject to different periods, as it is the case, for example, of higher education students. In the case of residence permits for investment (Golden Visa), the residence card grated in the concession will benefit from this exceptional regime being valid for two years, but the renewal of the residence permit is made for a period of 2 years (and not 3) since it has a special provision unchanged by the exceptional regime now published.

  • During 2021, the setting of the global quota for the purpose of granting a residence permit visa for the exercise of subordinate professional activity provided for in article 59 of the Law, is suspended, and residence visas may be issued for exercise of subordinate professional activity to third-country nationals who fulfill the general conditions and:

a) Proof to have an employment contract or promise of an employment contract; or

b) Proof to have recognized and adequate qualifications or competences for the exercise of a professional activity and benefit from an individualized expression of interest by the employer.

On the other hand, the Immigration Office (SEF) itself will also be subject to a restructuring. The main lines were presented on January 15th aiming the separation of police functions from administrative processes and documentation of immigrants. As such, in the police functions, in addition to the criminal investigation that passes to the Judiciary Police, the control of port and airport borders and the control of the activity of foreigners in national territory will be the competence of the Public Security Police, while, the National Guard will have as new assignment the control of land and sea borders, as well as participation in joint operations with the Spanish authorities.

The processing of applications for asylum and citizenship, opinions on consular visas, and residence permits become the responsibility of a new entity: SEA (Foreigners and Asylum Services). The renewal of residence visas will be the responsibility of the Institute of Registries and Notaries. By the end of the first semester, all transfers of functions and personnel shall be completed.

The content of this information does not constitute any specific legal advice; the latter can only be given when faced with a specific case. Please contact us for any further clarification or information deemed necessary in what concerns the application of the law.