All change at Portugal’s SEF borders agency: 1800 staff and inspectors must choose where they want to go

Following the appalling death of a Ukrainian at the hands of three SEF border guards at Lisbon airport, the entire service is being ‘extinguished’.

1800 workers – including roughly 1000 ‘inspectors’ – are to be ‘redistributed’, by the end of the year, either among Portugal’s other law enforcement agencies or to SEA, the new administrative entity that will now deal with the bureaucratic aspects of immigration, requests for asylum and residencies.

SEA stands for Serviços de Estrangeiros e Asilo. It is expected to be ‘up and running’ by the second trimester of this year.

In other words, the extinguishing of SEF is to go full-steam ahead, under the auspices of new boss, former GNR national commander Luís Francisco Botelho Miguel (click here).

Explain reports, “the government wants SEF’s professionals, whatever their role, to have the option of choice on their destiny”

 “For example, those who perform investigation can be transferred to the PJ and become integrated into units of criminal investigation” or they can opt for the PSP or GNR.

“Those who perform documental tasks can move to SEA or IRN (the national notaries and registries institute, which has personnel in conservatories up and down the country).

The government’s schedule is to have the way ahead ‘approved’ by January 21, with the principal restructuring changes defined by the second half of March.

Says Diário de Notícias:“By the end of the first semester of this year (that is, by end June) all transfers of functions and personnel must be concluded. 

“By the end of the year, all SEF workers must choose their integration within the GNR, PJ, PSP, IRN or High Commission for Migrations”.

The haste for this massive change has been caused by the brutal killing of Ihor Homeniuk (click here), but it was apparently one of the current government’s ‘programmes’ to move all criminal investigation from SEF to the PJ eventually.

The ‘future’ for Portugal’s police forces will thus see the PJ taking full responsibility for criminal investigations on national territory; PSP will be responsible for the control of ports and airport ‘borders’ and for ‘expelling illegal foreigners or those with judicial convictions’ from the country, and the GNR will be given the added task of controlling land and sea borders and liaising with Spanish counterparts.

The new SEA meantime will ‘inherit’ all the requests for asylum, nationality, visas and authorisations of residencies currently in the process of going through SEF.

One ‘major change’ for expats is that now, when they seek to renew residencies, they will need to go through IRN (the institute of registries and notaries) which tends to have branches in the main town of most boroughs.


Reacting to the announcement today, the syndicate of SEF inspectors has promised “total war” to halt what they call “the destruction” of their service.

“No police force has the necessary competence to substitute SEF”, syndicate representative Acácio Pereira Observador online, adding that the service hasn’t yet been official been informed of the government’s plan.

As far as SEF is concerned, the break-up of its force “will be a loss to Portugal and put the safety of other countries within the European Union at risk”.

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