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How is Portugal making immigration easier?

The new Implementing Decree on the legal regime for entry, stay, exit and removal of foreign citizens from the national territory was published in September 2018 in the Official Gazette and meets the objectives that were the basis of the amendments to the Aliens Act in 2017.

These amendments have been made as the government recognizes that Portugal is faced with a demographic challenge. Thus, the Government's strategy in the area of migration is to promote the attraction of immigrants, through legal immigration channels, the development of an intercultural society and deepen the integration of immigrants in Portuguese society.

The new decree makes it possible to reduce bureaucracy and make the procedures for visa applications and residence permits more flexible and faster. It introduces a simplified regime for students who wish to attend vocational education courses in Portugal and for highly skilled entrepreneurs in order to make the business models linked to entrepreneurship, technology and innovation more attractive, therefore addressing the difficulties felt by enterprises in these fields (Startup Visa). Moreover, the following changes can be noted:

· It authorizes the regularization of immigrants who are already in Portugal for humanitarian reasons whenever they prove that they are legally working in Portugal and paying into the social security for more than one year. This is in line with Article 123 of the Aliens Act which exempts a migrant, in exceptional situations, from the proof of legal entry.

· It simplifies the residence scheme for seasonal workers in a new article (Article 17A) and introduces a new scheme for workers transferred from other Member States, if they are integrated into the workforce (Article 62B). This new scheme exempts holders of an ICT residence permit granted by another Member State of the European Union to ask for another residence permit for long-term mobility in Portugal.

· It also simplifies the obtention of a residency permit for researchers (Article 32) and other highly qualified employees (Article 32A) as there is no need anymore to receive the prior opinion from the government on granting them a visa.

· It streamlines and simplifies the granting of residence permits for those who wish to study in higher education (Article 33). For example, students will not have to prove the payment of tuition and prove that they have sufficient means of subsistence anymore if they demonstrate that they are accepted into a higher education institution. Additionally, the student who is receiving a scholarship attributed by Camões - Institute of Cooperation and Language, will not have to prove his admission into a higher education institution. A more favorable treatment for the students from the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP), was introduced (Article 33.7). They are now exempt from attending an interview with the

Portuguese immigration and borders service (SEF).

The CPLP is an international organization and political association of Lusophone countries. Lusophone countries are countries with Portuguese as their official language. The CPLP is composed of 9 Member States: Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique, Portugal, Sao Tomé e Principe and Timor-Leste. All that can be achieved in matters of circulation of people has a symbolic importance, reinforcing the sense of belonging and the political importance of the CPLP in the international community.

Author: Dr. Fanny Tittel-Mosser

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