A new online procedure opened in Portugal to speed up the process of the thousands of residence permit requests still pending approval. But the website’s server can be overloaded by high traffic at times.
Citizens from Portuguese-speaking countries have benefited from a simplified, digital, and quick procedure for receiving a residence permit to live in Portugal since March 13.
On the first day of operation of the portal, authorities already received more than 9,700 requests for residence permits on Monday at 6 p.m., according to a written statement from the Portuguese government.
The new portal allows immigrants from the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) to obtain a residence permit automatically, without the need to go to a service center of the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF), except if minors are involved.
The SEF issued 1,515 documents by the end of the first day. Before launching the portal, authorities expected applicants to receive documents within 72 hours.
The procedure costs 15 euros (16 dollars), about the same price as creating a Portuguese identity card. The visa is valid for one year and is renewable for two successive periods of two years. Of the nearly 10,000 requests already received, 109 need further security checks.
But the site has been experiencing difficulties supporting the inflow of visitors willing to receive a residence permit since its launch yesterday.
The new online procedure is part of an operation that seeks to reduce bureaucracy and speed up the process for the many visa requests still awaiting an answer. It is, for now, only available to people from CPLP countries who have already formalized a visa request and are waiting for an answer. The service will then be extended to all residence permit requests from Portuguese-speaking countries.
Member states of the CPLP whose citizens are eligible for this new fast immigration process are Brazil, Angola, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe, and Timor-Leste. Most requests to live in Portugal come from Brazil.
And there are about 150,000 pending requests from Portuguese-speaking countries. However, some people may not intend to benefit from this type of visa anymore, SEF Director Fernando Silva noted during a press conference on Friday.
From all countries combined, Portugal has 300,000 long-term visa requests from 2021 and 2022 still stuck in limbo and waiting to be processed.
Portugal trying to reduce bureaucracy for residence requests
The government of Portugal has introduced a series of measures to facilitate procedures for migrating into its territory, including amendments to the Law on Foreigners in November. The center-right opposition Social Democratic Party (PSD) and People’s Party (CDS) criticized the amendments.
The new portal for Portuguese speakers follows an agreement signed in July 2021 between CPLP members to promote mobility between the countries by improving migration procedures.
Since November, the requests of citizens from CPLP member states to receive and renew residence permits are exempt from presenting valid travel insurance, proof of means of subsistence and a copy of the return trip. Moreover, the visa application doesn’t need to be made in person anymore but can be proceeded online, except if a minor is involved.
The new almost-automatic residence permit still has preliminary approval before the right to request a residence authorization, whose conditions depend on whether people are employed digital nomads, job seekers, students, researchers, volunteers, or minors.
In February, the minister of Internal Administration, José Luís Carneiro, said that immigrants from CPLP countries would benefit from a protected status for up to one year, equivalent to what was given to citizens escaping the war in Ukraine and welcomed by Portugal.
Since August 2022, driving licenses of citizens from CPLP and OECD countries have been valid in Portugal without needing a Portuguese one.
Work visas for all migrants are no longer granted on an “exceptional” basis but only need a contract offer and registration to Portuguese social security. Moreover, foreigners from all countries can apply for a Job Search Visa, granted for 120 days and extendable to another 60 days, as long as people are registered in the Portuguese Public Employment Service as job seekers.
The Immigration and Borders Service is also being restructured into a new Portuguese Agency for Migration and Asylum, dealing with administrative affairs and separate from police issues. The restructuring, expected to come into effect at the end of the month, has been taking longer than announced and has been postponed several times.
The foreign population legally residing in Portugal increased in 2022 for the seventh consecutive year, totaling 757,252, according to SEF data. Brazilian citizens remain the first foreign community in the country, with a total of 233,138 people, 13 percent more than in 2021.