Immigration: Government realigns visa and residency policies

The Portuguese government revealed today it had approved new regulations on immigration in last Thursday’s Cabinet Meeting.

Living in Portugal What's New — 23 March 2012 by Lusa News
Immigration: Government realigns visa and residency policies

The Portuguese government made changes to the legal regime in effect for the terms of entrance, residence and voluntary and involuntary departure of non-nationals, according to a statement issued by the Cabinet Meeting on Thursday, 22 March.

More specifically, the statement describes “significant improvements” to five different facets of visa policies.

In addition to criminalising the employment of illegal immigrants, the new regulations also establish a new EU Blue Card residency permit and strengthen measures designed to combat weddings of convenience, when fake marriages open the door to meeting residency requirements.

In addition to changing the terms for reuniting families following the taking up of legal residence in Portugal, this new set of immigration measures also serves to redefine the classification attributed to business entrepreneurs investing in Portugal in order to facilitate their access.

(Photograph: Mário Cruz/Lusa)

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(31) Readers Comments

  1. It sounds frightening. Where can I read more about these new “significant improvements”?

  2. why the Portuguese governments making problems with innocent Immigrants. they are giving 20 days country out. without Verification . that was so rude. what is the solutions???

  3. Finally a step in the right direction. Portugal has long been an easy route by illegals into Europe, as well as Portugal. The lax laws basically allowed anyone to fly to Portugal and become citizen renegades of credentials, which in turn has created a nightmare for Portugal in terms of security, crime. This is a good step, but more needs to be done to prevent the entry of illegals in the first place.

  4. Nobody knows wether these steps are going to be effective or not. But I know one thing very clearly that

    Portugal is suffering a lot, but not only because of immigrants.But there are many other reasons and sources

    which braught country in to this condition . Its very necessary to take measures to stop fake marriages as well

    as illegal emloyment. But some kindness is also required for right, honest and hard working persons.

  5. I disagree with the term ‘kindness’. No country owes anyone except for its own citizenry. Portugal, like other countries has a problem with ignoring the plights of its citizens while allowing illegals to set up shop. We’re talking about African gangs, Russian/Romanian/Ukrainian mobs and south American drug cartels. This needs to stop now, Portugal cannot and should not continue lax immigration policies that are destroying the fabric/identity and security of the nation. It needs to follow in the footsteps of Northern Europe in the proper screening policies.

  6. Of course people who are corrupted or were offended previously in their native countries should not be allowed to enter any other country and same thing with illegal marriages, but skilled immigrants have to be allowed to live in other countries or people who is capable of work once they entered illegally and found themselves a job with contract, just give them a chance. Hey, they pay taxes, not robbing, nor killing and you can’t neglect that fact that they bring money to the country when they open business and pay taxes.
    Well it sounds all fun and cool, but it should be close to that and separation of emmigrants should be done on initial stages.

    – “It needs to follow in the footsteps of Northern Europe” – ha ha! oh wow…
    I don’t know what countries you talk about, but France, Germany, Sweden, Belgium etc. still accept TONS of immigrants, all kinds of them and of course these countries suffer from this, but, please, don’t tell me that Portugal is among those countries and it is choking of illegal immigrants.
    And as you mentioned to follow Northern Europe, read the following about Germany and how it’s going to treat new immigrants in the nearest future: one, two

    – “Portugal, like other countries has a problem with ignoring the plights of its citizens” – no way.
    The thing is that Portugal is just ignoring its citizens for the moment, read portuguese newspapers, lots of people are running away from country just to find a better places where they can find some work and everybody knows this in EU, Brazil, Canada, USA… So, I will repeat myselft now, Portugal needs more people to come and work for prosperity of the country, people will do things and raise countries economy.

  7. You mentioned that Portugal should allow “skilled immigrants” to be given a chance to immigrate to Portugal. The Problem is that there are thousands of skilled Portuguese who are forced to leave the country due to the lack of viable employment opportunities. Currently, the vast majority of refugees or immigrants to Portugal comprise of low skilled, low wage individuals who are often used illegally by unscrupulous employers. Tagging along with this group are criminals who’s only desire is to fly under the radar of Portugal’s lax immigration laws.

    “France, Germany, Sweden, Belgium” and I’ll add the Netherlands, Finland, Norway and the UK all have tighter immigration policies than does Portugal. Portugal, in fact, is considered by Northern Europe as an entry point for illegals.

    “Portugal needs more people to come and work for prosperity of the country, people will do things and raise countries economy.” Wrong!

    Immigrants to Portugal have for the most part not added prosperity to Portugal, and that is why there are hundreds of thousands of skilled, University educated Portuguese leaving the country each year. The vast majority of immigrants to Portugal have very little prospects for prosperity, since there is very little growth in Portugal. on the contrary, any immigrant to Portugal would most certainly see one of three realities 1) work in a low skilled high exploitation job with very low pay 2) collect welfare and subsidize income by other means, including nefarious ones 3) leave Portugal to Northern Europe.(This third category comprises of the high – skilled immigrants that you speak of)

    What Portugal needs is not more immigrants but foreign investment and high paying jobs, which it has seen little of since the conversion to the EURO in the early 2000′s.

  8. Considering the large number of illegal and legal immigrants in Portugal, measured in the hundreds of thousands, most of whom arrive from former Portuguese colonies and being low skilled with little to no education, has not helped Portugal or its citizens.

    Considering that illegals comprise just under 100,000, we can deduce the following. Those who are working are not contributing tax dollars to the economy and replacing a Portuguese citizen who would be contributing tax revenue to the state. Those who are not working are either a)idle b) involved in crime or c) a combination of the above. In fact, being illegal in Portugal automatically places the individual in b).

    Regarding legal immigrants, they tend to be low skilled and therefore not a benefit to Portugal, see the following:

    “Similarly to Portugal’s southern European counterparts, most immigrant inflows are labour related. Immigrant activity rates, both male and female, are higher than for natives. Moreover, most of the recent inflows moved directly into low-skilled jobs in sectors such as construction, hotels and food service activities, services to companies and domestic service. The high economic growth registered until the early years of the new century, often based on labour-intensive sectors, generated a high labour demand and exerted a strong pull factor for immigration.”

    Using the above information, we can arrive at a number of conclusions, none of which help Portugal. For legal immigrants, they will either end up in a) very low paying, high exploitation jobs b) on welfare c) crime (which includes any non-taxable income or d) a combination of the above.

    Considering that the number of illegal and legal immigrants make 5 to 10 percent of the population of Portugal, we can see that there is a gaping hole in the value added to the Portuguese GNP, and huge burden in relation to crime and social services, which has already manifested all over Portugal.

    Interestingly, while low wage, low educated immigrants enter Portugal, many high-skilled highly educated Portuguese continue to leave. According to Portugualdailyview , up to 149,000 Portuguese emigrated in 2010, many of these (obviously not all) were high skilled high educated. Therefore, Portugal is dumbing down, losing potential of its own citizens who would otherwise be able to contribute in a big way to the GNP. Ironically, many of these Portuguese are emigrating to the former colonies, helping fill in needed job vacancies. In essence, while Portugal imports low educated immigrants, it exports high educated emigrants to the same countries.

    In terms of crime, the number of African Gangs that routinely revert to thuggery and Eastern European mobsters who use Portugal as a base for nefarious activities are well documented, you can Google that at your leisure.

    Regarding Northern European Expats. They are comprised mostly of Brits, and are consumer not producer based migrants. Therefore, they do little else than purchase a lot of booze and soak up the sun, and therefore add very little to the GNP of the country.

    In summary, Portugal does not need more people in the country, it needs to keep the people who are already here, and eliminate the number of low skilled/low educated immigrants/and illegals who enter. In order to do this, it needs to attract foreign investment, open up its restrictive, bureaucratic system, retain its educated youth, attract only high educated persons who have job prospects, clamp down on employers who dabble in worker exploitation and deport any non-national involved in crime. This is the way forward for the country, the method you described will only contribute to the ongoing saga of Portugal as a country with low economic growth, higher crime and desolation for the existing population. What I’m saying is not a warning for the future, its a description of the present.

  9. Despite having read all the above opinions i sincerely hope the new portuguese immigration measures do not dishearten some of the hardworking and sincere immigrants who are yet to be given resident status. hope they will be reciprocated justly by the portuguese immigration based on their hardwork and some amount of contribution. i am sure they do deserve to be part of your window of opportunity programme.

  10. The problem is, Portugal does not have an obligation to solve the world’s hurts, in fact no country does. A country has an obligation to its citizens first and foremost, with no exceptions. That means that any illegal immigration that occurs needs to be stamped out, and illegals put on first boat or plane out. For legal immigrants, they need to be brought in to fill in needed positions, if any. Meaning, that if there are no jobs, then immigration should be halted until such time where immigration is needed.

    Once again, Portugal does not owe anything to anybody, nor does any other country, except for their own citizens. And all immigration should be done to benefit the country and not the reverse.

    I for one am tired of Portugal being the easy entry point into Europe, while year after year the quality of life dissipates for its own citizens.

  11. I think many of the speakers above need to know more about immigration. They think the state should provide well-paying jobs and promote investment, and I say this is not going to happen if the country has an uncompetitive economy. Paradoxically, migration is one of the ways in which Portuguese government can make the Portuguese economy more competitive.

    I can give example of UK, as I think Portugal is following British footsteps among others.

    In UK there are a lot of immigrants. They are legal in an overwhelming majority and employers hiring illegals face harsh punishments. It should be so. This way, migrants cannot work below the minimum wage (they wouldn’t want to anyway) and in theory have an equal chance to get the job as much as the locals.

    Migrants in Britain normally don’t know the language and culture as well as the natives do, and much of their work experience and education from home is worthless. That’s why majority of migrants can work only as unskilled workers in areas where the local people don’t want to be. The competition for jobs between the British and immigrants is actually often pretty low.
    At the same time, migrants find jobs while local Britons do not, and many in Britain say that immigrants are the problem.

    The real source of the problem is that often Britons lack sufficient motivation to do basic jobs – they do not want a life career as cleaners or agricultural workers. As middle-income jobs are shrinking in supply (for example: 95% of jobs lost in the US due to the current economic crisis were middle-income jobs), getting a well-paying job is harder and harder. Still, many Britons prefer to remain unemployed than go and work as a cleaner.
    The only way the British government can push its citizens to do the basic jobs is to cut social security. That’s what they are doing now, and it’s a very unpopular decision. The same happens also in Spain and in other countries.

    Those who say that immigrants should be banned from entering if there are not enough jobs are mistaken. Even in a situation where there are jobs, local people may not be interested in taking them! Immigration is the only solution if the country doesn’t dramatically cut its social security.

    Moreover, to those who think Portugal fixes other countries’ problems by hosting migrants – you are right, but miss an important detail. Portugal benefits from immigration as well, and thanks to migration its economy is still afloat
    In the UK, much of the business is possible simply because there are migrants who are ready to take on any basic job, and who push down the basic wage. Before Central-Eastern Europe joined the EU, a truck driver in Britain expected 12 euro per hour. Now, the same job pays a bit more than 7 euro. The UK economy keeps going because it’s cheaper. If people continued to be highly paid for basic jobs, the country would already face economic problems well before 2008.

  12. Well Radek, considering your post was directed towards me, let me formally respond to your understanding of the immigration policies in Portugal.

    First, I want you to be perfectly clear. I am not anti-immigration, I am anti-unregulated immigration, which is currently the reality if Portugal.

    The lack of proper regulation of illegal and legal immigration in Portugal has made it a country of so called asylum seekers. Thankfully, it is not as bad as in Greece, where the country is being over-run by illegals from North and sub-Saharan Africa, it’s a real mess over there, but a bad situation nonetheless.

    Since you are clearly pro-immigration, let’s then consider the UK for a second, where mass immigration has fueled dissent amongst the locals and where far right-wing anti-immigration sentiment is gaining mass appeal. This a country with approximately 62 million, about 6 times the population of Portugal and area of approximately 94,526 square miles vs Portugal’s 35,655 sq miles. In essence, even in the UK where there is a larger home grown population and more land as well as a larger middle to upper middle class employment than Portugal, the anti-immigration sentiment grows strong. The England riots of last year showed that exists extreme ill will between homegrown vs Immigrant, this a country that is ranked as the 6th largest economy in the world and topping almost every human development chart.

    Now, let’s look at the Portugal reality. First, you suggested that immigration should be open regardless of need, and that employment will create itself. Well, it hasn’t happened in Portugal, a country where immigrants tend to have little or no education, many of whom rely on welfare to get by. Keep in mind that Portugal has approximately 15 percent unemployment. Coupled with this influx of poorly trained, poorly educated immigrant with little to no job prospects, Portugal, unlike the UK has the misfortune of losing much of its educated youth. Annually, tens of thousands of educated Portuguese are forced to leave the country to find employment elsewhere. It doesn’t take much to see the problem with this trend, but let me outline it for you. The generation of Portuguese who could be developing the country and creating employment opportunities (real employment) are helping develop other economies, whilst the Portuguese government suffers from the lack of a middle class tax base, and forced to allocate resources to immigrant integration and housing/policing/social services.

    The immigration policies in Portugal have not helped one bit, because if they had, then Portugal would not be in the situation that it is in today, with high unemployment and little prospects of a viable middle class. In fact, the middle class has been slowly eroding for these last 10 years.

    Addressing the point of Portuguese who are unwilling to do menial work, this is only partly true. The reality is that unscrupulous employers, as has been documented elsewhere in the EU, have resorted to halving the pay per hour for similar work done 10 years ago, often, employers will not pay their employees as has been documented all over Portugal, its quite a scandalous affair that.

    What has also occurred in Portugal is the number of illegals, many of whom are deeply involved in criminal activities from prostitution to drug dealing/smuggling, bank robberies/home invasions and petty theft. That’s not to say that all illegal or legal immigrants are all criminals, but low education and individual’s personal history(ie. standards in home country) coupled with low employment prospects, breed crime and the number of immigrants legal or not that are now filling Portuguese jail cells is quite high.

    Immigration, for Portugal, is not a viable solution, in fact it has the opposite effect, breeding lower standard of living for both them and Portuguese citizens. What Portugal and the rest of the EU for that matter needs to do is to clamp down on immigration and allow only those who have job prospects, actually, this is already being implemented by the Coelho government, which means that the country is starting to wake up to the reality that unchecked immigration causes all sorts of social and economic issues that may never be resolved if left unchecked.

  13. One last point, Radek,

    quoting you directly “In the UK, much of the business is possible simply because there are migrants who are ready to take on any basic job, and who push down the basic wage. Before Central-Eastern Europe joined the EU, a truck driver in Britain expected 12 euro per hour. Now, the same job pays a bit more than 7 euro. The UK economy keeps going because it’s cheaper. If people continued to be highly paid for basic jobs, the country would already face economic problems well before 2008.. ”

    Your statement is very disconcerting to me because it implies so much.

    For example, a Brit who is paid 12 Euro? I’m presuming you meant Pounds, having wages cut in half results in a lower standard of living for both him as well as the individuals who are responsible for wage reduction. Using a truck driver as an example, he or she would need to work 40 % more (not including inflation, mortgage et al.) to earn as much as he/she did previously, in which way exactly is this beneficial to the truck driver financial situation or to his view of immigrants in general?

    Secondly, as you have outlined, the influx of new immigrants has as a consequence a tendency to give employers the freedom for worker exploitation. That is that an employer is able to find someone outside of the current cultural matrix who is willing to be exploited in order to earn a living (no big surprise here), what are the consequences to the society at large regarding this unchecked paradigm?

    Third, you seem fixated on the idea that one job is not worth the value of another, for example, a truck driver is considered a ‘Basic Job’, meaning that the individual filling that role does not have the same social standing of say someone who has a ‘Non-Basic Job’ and therefore should not earn as much. I can assure you that having an education that grants one the option of sitting in front of a phone all day is no evidence of productivity, in fact I can wager the truck driver is more of a value added vocation. What does this tell us of a society that feels that some segments of our society are not deserving of a comfortable standard of living, this lends into the concept of elitism, and really implies of a society of diploma waving technocrats who think very highly of themselves.

    Fourth, and to me most disconcerting, is the fact that you as an employee feel it is your job to care about what is best for the corporation. As an employee, your corporation needs to think about what is best for you, the employee, so that you can then provide, to the best of your abilities, a standard work completion based on corporate standards, and not the other way around. That means that, you as an employee need to be treated as a human being first and foremost, with fair wages based on industry or country standards. For example, for a trucker who has been trained on hauling hazardous materials, his/her wages should be increased accordingly. A foreign worker who originates for a country where public safety is not highly prioritized, might not think twice of hauling hazardous waste for a fraction of the pay, what exactly does this tell us about the transformation of the current culture to which he/she is a guest? And no, we should not ask the corporation what it thinks its best, because corporations will always attempt to get the most work for lowest pay possible, just look at places like India and China to see this manifest, if this is the future you wish for the UK.

    In essence, the gist is that, immigration should not be used as a ploy to destroy the very fabric or social responsibility within a country that has evolved to reduce worker exploitation within its borders. Any deviance from this path should be seen as a form of tyranny that it is. But unfortunately, as your sentiments imply, we should all be good little boys and girls and do as we’re told, using your logic, we should just acquiesce to corporate accountants, which is tantamount to self inflicted slavery.

  14. The comments are more interesting that the 4 sentence long (yes, count them) “news story” that actually says nothing specific or really interesting.

  15. Thousands of Bangladeshi ( and others as well) immigrants are coming to UK from Portugal. I was told Portuguese Police are highly corrupt and they take bribe to make the necessary documents. As soon as they get Portuguese passport,they run for UK to enjoy free housing and benefits.

  16. You’re either trying to be funny, or you are ignorant.

    It was ‘rude’ by those ‘innocent immigrants’ to ignore the law.

  17. hire a advocate he will fight for u fees maximum should 300.400 no more and i hope u will get many friends did that

  18. lol harry when ur army was in asia for 100 years without paying tax then where u was and wht the damn is free all people pay tax to ur govt and if all asian bycott and run away to their countries ur gov die 1000000,,,, people paying tax to ur govt in all countries

  19. How about you fix your own country and stop sending immigrants to other countries? That means becoming more proactive in fixing corruption within your own country. If your nation’s main export is emigrants, then you have a serious issue, and you need to be a catalyst in correcting this imbalance. Ask yourself, ‘what is it about my country that has created this socio-economic mess?”, ask yourself, “Does my attitude and outlook on life, which I’ve brought back from the old country, contribute to socio-economic disasters in the host country?”. These are questions that you as an immigrant need to ask. The host nation does not owe it to you to ask these questions on your behalf. If you cannot, and will not respect the host nation, then you are unwelcome.

    This goes for every country, including so called developed nations like Portugal, Ireland etc. etc.. Running to other countries, and then expecting their citizens to let you live the way you did in your own, regardless of affects on the host nation’s standard of living, is quite frankly sickening, it truly is. Good immigrants ask these important questions and try to do the best they can to settle in. But callous immigrants get a lawyer to find some loophole so that you can suck up the resources and hospitality of the host nation until you are a completely unwelcome parasite.

    One last thought, I think that any country that ignores the rights of their own citizens, ie. stupid politicians and greedy callous lawyers, should be forced to have new immigrant settlements setup in their own communities. Stop dumping the immigration problem on the poor working class who can ill afford to move uptown to avoid the social catastrophe that unregulated immigration brings.

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  21. is this is why the country is spiraling downwards with no hope in sight of recovering.
    To state that Portugal should only be concerned with its own citizens first and forget all others…pretty much boot them out is one of the reasons why the country is falling. As a country that is part of the UN….Portugal has a responsibility to the world as all other countries. Take America for example…if America had the same attitude as you have right now…where would the 15k Portuguese be today who ran out of their own country into America looking for refuge and work? All other countries accept the Portuguese…but the Portuguese have an attitude about accepting others. Continue the attitude of not helping others…not sharing…not trading with other countries…and you will find yourself alone….falling…as you are now

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