In 2021, Portugal received 94 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status and free mobility), 11% more than in 2020. This figure comprises 28.3% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 41.2% labour migrants, 24.7% family members (including accompanying family) and 0.3% humanitarian migrants. Around 11 000 permits were issued to tertiary-level third-country students. In addition, 58 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2021, a 99% increase compared to 2020. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

Brazil, India and Belgium were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2021. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Germany registered the strongest increase (+1 400) and Brazil the largest decrease (-2 800) in flows to Portugal compared to the previous year.

In 2022, the number of first asylum applicants increased by 47%, to reach around 2000. The majority of applicants came from Afghanistan (300), India (200) and Ukraine (200, excluding temporary protection recipients). The largest increase since 2021 concerned nationals of Ukraine (+200) and the largest decrease nationals of Afghanistan (-300). Of the 870 decisions taken in 2022, 78% were positive.

Emigration of Portuguese citizens to OECD countries increased by 21% in 2021, to 47 000. Approximately 16% of this group migrated to France, 16% to Switzerland and 14% to Spain.

The Portuguese Government approved the creation of the Agency for Integration, Migration and Asylum (AIMA) early this April, having been later published the Decree-Law 41/2023, of 2 June, which establishes said creation of the Agency and its competencies. The Agency will succeed the High Commission for Migration (ACM), implementing public policies on migration and asylum, and the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF), whose police functions will be dispersed among other security forces and services.

In the summer of 2022, a law amending the Portuguese Immigration Law, known as the Foreigner’s Law (Law No. 23/2007, of 4 July), was published. The new law introduces a job search visa and a digital nomad visa. Under the new job search visa, foreigners may stay in Portugal for six months to look for a job. If successful, they can change to a regular work permit without leaving the country. If not, they are barred from reapplying for another job search visa for one year. Under the new digital nomad visa, employed and self-employed individuals abroad may live in Portugal for up to one year. The eligibility criteria include a minimum income threshold equivalent to a monthly average of four minimum wages in the previous three months.

Another relevant change is the streamlining of visa issuances to citizens of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP) under a Mobility Agreement among these countries. Under the new rules, consular posts may grant visas after checking the Schengen Information System for prior visa overstay and are no longer required to seek pre-approval from the Portuguese Immigration and Border Services (SEF).

Finally, some processes are simpler under the new law. International students automatically have the right to work. All visa approvals are automatically notified to the Employment Services, Social Security, Tax Authority and the Health Ministry, allowing social security, tax and national health numbers to be issued faster.

Portugal signed a bilateral labour agreement with Morocco in January 2022. Employers in Portugal will need to submit their hiring requests to the Portuguese Institute of Employment and Vocational Training (IEFP). The IEFP will then co-ordinate with Morocco’s National Agency for Promotion of Employment and Skills (ANAPEC), who will recruit Moroccan nationals. Participants in the programme will be allowed to change employer after six months, or if their employment contract is terminated, and will be eligible for family reunification.

The Portuguese Government has automatically extended residence permits that expired or are set to expire in 2023 until the end of the year to address processing backlogs.

For further information: www.acm.gov.pt | www.om.acm.gov.pt | www.sef.pt

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