In 2019, Portugal received 88 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status and free mobility), 37% more than in 2018. This figure comprises 31.1% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 39.5% labour migrants, 34.3% family members (including accompanying family) and 0.2% humanitarian migrants. Around 13 000 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 400 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 50 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2019, an increase of 74% compared to 2018. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

Brazil, the United Kingdom and Italy were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2019. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Brazil registered the strongest increase (21 000) and France the largest decrease (-900) in flows to Portugal compared to the previous year.

In 2020, the number of first asylum applicants decreased by -48.1%, to reach around 900. The majority of applicants came from the Gambia (200), Angola (100) and Guinea-Bissau (90). The largest increase since 2019 concerned nationals of Morocco (50) and the largest decrease nationals of Angola (-200). Of the 400 decisions taken in 2020, 22.6% were positive.

Emigration of Portuguese to OECD countries increased by 9% in 2019, to 64 000. Approximately 27% of this group migrated to the United Kingdom, 14% to Spain and 13% to Switzerland.

The Portuguese nationality law was amended in November 2020 to broaden the access to citizenship to children born in Portugal to immigrant parents. Children born in Portugal to foreign parents now automatically receive Portuguese citizenship if at least one of the parents is a legal resident in the country, irrespective of duration of stay, or has been living in Portugal for at least one year, irrespective of legal status in the country. The law had already been previously amended in 2018. The 2018 amendment decreased the time that one of the parents was required to have been living legally in Portugal before the birth of the child from five to two years.

During 2020, Portugal continued its participation in the Voluntary Resettlement Programme co-ordinated by the UNHCR and the EC, under which it committed to hosting 1 010 persons from Turkey and Egypt in the pledge 2018-19. In August 2020, 41 resettled refugees arrived from Turkey and 25 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children were relocated from Greece to Portugal in July 2020. In September 2020, the IOM and the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) signed a new Framework Agreement towards Resettlement of Refugees to Portugal for the period 2020-22.

In 2015, Portugal established a decentralised integration programme to host relocated asylum seekers from Italy and Greece in which both municipalities and the civil society play a key role. The integration programme put in place has co-existed with a pre-existing system to host and integrate spontaneous asylum seekers and refugees. A new unified framework for welcoming and integrating all applicants and beneficiaries of international protection has been recently established by resolution of the Council of Ministers in November 2020.

To deliver an adequate response to the growing number of migrant women seeking the support of the Domestic Violence Victims National Network during the pandemic, the High Commission for Migration and the Commission for Citizenship and Gender Equality launched a new service in the One-Stop-Shop National Support Centres for the Integration of Migrants, in Lisbon (November 2020) and Oporto (February 2021) to assist victims of domestic violence and/or harmful traditional practices.

In 2020, the Portuguese Government renewed exceptional measures in order to ensure that all migrants with pending immigration or asylum processes with the Portuguese Border Service (SEF) could fully access the national health system during the COVID-19 crisis. All migrants with processes filed between 18 March 2020 and 30 April 2021 are temporarily regular in the national territory, which means they are granted full access to the national health system, but also access to social support services, the rental and the labour market, financial and essential public services. Simplified procedures were also put in place for the allocation of residence permits without previous demand of visas and the renewal of residence permits. Visas and residence permits that expired after 24 February 2020 were extended until 31 December 2021 and shall continue to be accepted under the same terms after that date, as long as the holder proves they have already scheduled the renewal. All migrants regardless of migratory status have access to health care, including vaccination and testing, in relation to COVID-19.

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