In 2018, Portugal received 64 000 new immigrants on a long-term or permanent basis (including changes of status and free mobility), 61.6% more than in 2017. This figure comprises 26% immigrants benefitting from free mobility, 31.2% labour migrants, 32.8% family members (including accompanying family) and 1% humanitarian migrants. Around 8 400 permits were issued to tertiary-level international students and 300 to temporary and seasonal labour migrants (excluding intra-EU migration). In addition, 29 000 intra-EU postings were recorded in 2018, an increase of 27.9% compared to 2017. These posted workers are generally on short-term contracts.

Brazil, Italy and France were the top three nationalities of newcomers in 2018. Among the top 15 countries of origin, Brazil registered the strongest increase (17 000) and Romania the largest decrease (-300) in flows to Portugal compared to the previous year.

In 2019, the number of first asylum applicants increased by 39.9%, to reach around 1 700. The majority of applicants came from Angola (300), the Gambia (200) and Guinea-Bissau (200). The largest increase since 2018 concerned nationals of Gambia (+200) and the largest decrease nationals of Ukraine (-55). Of the 700 decisions taken in 2019, 22.8% were positive.

The Portuguese Immigration Law (Law no. 23/2007, 4th July), in its 2019 amendment (Law no. 28/2019, 29th March) offered a pathway for undocumented migrants in employment, by facilitating the regularisation of those who are in the labour market and who have contributed to the social security for at least one year.

A Tech Visa, available from 2019, was created to accelerate visa procedures for highly qualified employees of established firms that are certified by IAPMEI (Executive Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation) as offering innovative technology.

The Portuguese parliament approved restrictions to the issue of Golden visas in February 2020. Real estate investments will only qualify under the scheme for inland municipalities to decrease the pressure on real estate prices, in Lisbon and Porto areas.

The Portuguese Nationality Law (Law no. 37/81, 3rd October) 2018 amendment broaden access to Portuguese citizenship for children born to foreign immigrant parents, if at least one of the parents has been living in Portugal legally for two years preceding the birth, instead of five years as previously required.

In 2019 Portugal approved the National Implementation Plan of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM no. 141/2019), becoming one of the first countries in the world to approve its National Plan to implement the Global Compact on Migration. This operational document is oriented to practical and accurate results. Following the 23 objectives of the Compact, the National Plan has 97 measures and 5 fundamental axes.

Portugal joined the Voluntary Resettlement Programme coordinated by the UNHCR and the EC. The first resettled refugees arrived in Portugal in December 2018. By August 2019, 308 people had arrived under this Programme.

In 2019, Portugal signed new Working Holiday agreements with the United States and Peru. Agreements have previously been signed with Canada, New Zealand (2018), Argentina, Chile (2017), Japan (2015) Australia, and Korea (2014).

A new programme to attract Portuguese emigrants started in January 2019. Emigrants who have lived abroad for at least three years and who return to Portugal between January 2019 and December 2020 will benefit, among other measures, from a 50% income tax cut until 2023.

The Portuguese government took exceptional measures to ensure that all migrants with pending immigration or asylum processes with the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) could fully access the national health system during the COVID-19 crisis. All migrants with processes filed before 18 March 2020 were granted the same rights as regular migrants until 30 October including full access to the national health system, to social support services, rental and labour market, financial and essential public services.

Integration services have also adapted their offer. The High Commission for Migration (ACM) services remained in operation with face-to-face assistance and increased support by telephone contact lines. ACM’s Telephone Translation Service and ACM’s translators’ face-to-face support remained available. Information sessions on COVID-19 targeted at immigrants were organised, information leaflets distributed in several languages, and ACM’s entrepreneurship course for migrants was offered on-line.

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