Amendment to the “ill-considered” law that facilitated immigration is now in force

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The new rules for immigration into Portugal, announced on Monday, came into force at 00:00 today, after the legal changes were published in the Diário da República.

The decree-law published “amends Law no. 23/2007, of July 4, revoking residence permit procedures based on expressions of interest,” https://diariodarepublica.pt/dr/detalhe/decreto-lei/37-a-2024-867842979

A 2017 amendment to the law on foreigners allowed, “through an expression of interest, the regularization of the stay in national territory, through the exercise of a subordinate or independent professional activity, without a valid visa for this purpose”, under parts of articles 88 and 89.

In the decree-law now published, the government considers that the “possibility of regularizing immigrants who were not in possession of a consular residence visa” was an “ill-considered ” measure that compromised “the principles assumed by Portugal and its European partners in the Schengen Area”.

After entry, it would be possible to enter the “general regime for obtaining residence permits, with the registration of an expression of interest and the mere promise of a work contract being sufficient for this purpose”.

In 2019, a new amendment was made to articles 88 and 89, which allowed immigrants to be regularized as long as their “social security situation has been regularized for at least twelve months”.

“With these changes, the possibility of any foreign citizen remaining in national territory, even if they have entered the country irregularly, has been clearly admitted,” says the decree-law now published.

The government says that there has been “an exponential growth in requests for legalization by this means which, unfortunately, are largely an instrument used by criminal networks linked to trafficking in human beings and aiding illegal immigration”.

For the government, these changes “have strongly contributed to a perverse call effect, since they have opened the way for certain migratory circuits with promises of entry and regularization in a Member State of the European Union for migrants in an irregular situation, often providing conditions of manifest vulnerability”.

The “abusive and systematic use of this mechanism, coupled with the enormous demand, the vicissitudes of the lengthy process of abolishing the Aliens and Borders Service and the inefficient distribution of its resources and attributions among various pre-existing and yet-to-be-created entities, has contributed to the situation in which the country finds itself,” reads the decree-law now published.

The decree-law therefore orders the “revocation of residence permit instruments based on a mere expression of interest, while safeguarding the situation of foreign citizens who have already started residence permit procedures under those instruments”.

The decree-law was announced on Monday afternoon at 16:45 by the Prime Minister, was promulgated by the President less than three hours later and was published just before midnight to enter into force today.

The President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, justified the swift enactment, “bearing in mind the extremely urgent situation of regularizing many thousands of pending residence permit cases”.

The Action Plan for Migration, approved by the Council of Ministers, includes the “end of the exceptional regime that allowed entry without rules, extinguishing the so-called expressions of interest procedure”, considered an “open door and the source of many pending cases”.

Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi
Moti Shabi

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