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Portuguese government gives temporary residence to immigrants with pending applications

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Portuguese Government has decided that all immigrants with residence permit applications that were pending at the Aliens and Borders Office (SEF) on 18th March will receive permission for temporary residence and have access to the same rights as all other citizens, including social support. The measure also includes asylum seekers.

The Minister of Internal Affairs, Mr. Eduardo Cabrita, who oversees the SEF, stated that, ‘In a State of Emergency, the priority is the defence of collective health and safety. It is in these moments that it becomes even more important to guarantee the rights of the most fragile, as is the case of migrants. Ensuring migrant citizens’ access to health, social security and job and housing stability is a duty of a solidary society in times of crisis’.

The reference date of 18th March was the day the government declared a State of National Emergency. The decision covers requests made under the law pertaining to foreign citizens, under the asylum law for those who want to work (articles 88 and 89) and for those who want to be teachers, are employed in highly skilled jobs or in the cultural area (article 90), or other situations of requests for concessions or renewals of residence permits under the general or exceptional regimes.

One of the most common ways for an immigrant to apply for a residence permit for labour reasons, under articles 88 and 89 of the foreigners’ law, is to have an employment contract and to pay social security. Recent legal changes allow immigrants who have been working and paying their social security contributions for at least 12 months to obtain a residence permit even if they did not enter the country following regular procedures.

The latest data show that immigrants bring a positive net balance to the State of € 651 million, contributing € 746.9 million while receiving € 95.6 million in benefits.

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