Applications flooded in over space of a few hours
With April 6 given officially as the moment SEF borders and foreigners agency will be no more, news that 9,700 new applications for residence were received on the first day of operation of a new portal could be seen as something of a non-sequiter.
But it is all about ‘clearing up’ rapidly before handing over to APMA – the Portuguese agency for asylum and migrations – which will be taking over where SEF leaves off.
The portal which opened this week is focused on citizens of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) with expressions of interest delivered by 31 December 2022.
In other words, citizens of Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, São Tomé e Príncipe and East Timor who have submitted expressions of interest but received nothing in response.
It’s unclear from the official statements delivered to newsrooms from the ministry of interior administration how long some of these expressions of interest have been in SEF’s system. The bottom line is that they will now be scooted out at lightening speed.
Over 1,515 residency documents have already been issued, with payment references also delivered, ensuring money rolls in.
The government calls it “a new simplified and speedy model of granting a residence permit, fully digital and accessible”, allowing citizens to obtain residence permits “without having to go to SEF” (which can be extremely difficult, given the circumstances).
This is given today as a ‘good news’ story, pointing to the advantages of ‘digitalisation’. The reality however can be grim, as a story over the weekend outlined: a record number of immigrants to Portugal requested voluntary return last year, because they simply could not afford to continue living in this country.