Portuguese nationality is increasingly being sought after while demographics here are in the doldrums. Thus PS Socialists, in releasing their election pledges last (Wednesday) night, have vowed to “drastically reduce” obstacles facing applicants – in terms of both time and bureaucracy.
Speaking to Público, João Tiago Silveira, coordinator of the PS electoral programme, admitted there are no “miraculous ideas that can solve the complex problem (of demographics) through one brilliant measure”. But simplifying the whole process of becoming a Portuguese citizen of is a start.
The plan is to “reduce the complexity” of the process – particularly in the number of times applicants have to contact authorities, “leading to the logic of a one-stop-shop”.
The intention is to “simplify and shorten procedures for renewing residencies” as well.
According to Silveira, ruling Socialists “will always be on the side of refugees and immigrants in situations of vulnerability seeking a better life, and against those who sustain racist, xenophobic and demagogic positions”.
His party’s manifesto defends the “recognition of the unsubstitutable advantages of regulated, integrated immigration focused on the development and sustainability of the country, not just from the demographic point of view but as an expression of a country that is tolerant, diverse and open to the world”.
Regarding immigrants looking for work, the plan is to ‘eliminate the quota system that exists for third world immigrants, providing adjustments in the mechanisms of entry depending on the situation in the labour market”, and to create a ‘short-term temporary residency permit’ to allow immigrants legal entry into Portugal for the purpose of seeking employment.
Meantime, in UK, The Economist suggests that British jews who don’t agree with Brexit are making enormous efforts to trace their Iberian heritage in order to retain European citizenship.
The weekly magazine describes how thanks to the amnesty offered Sephardic Jews (click here), remainers who want to keep their EU passports are avidly researching family histories.
One such is Ella Rachamim, a pediatrician, whose disappointment over the results of the referendum led her to stay up all night researching over the Internet, until she found the news that Portugal might well accept her and her family.
“Her only connection to the country, and her sole qualification for citizenship, is that her ancestors were expelled from it during a bout of anti-Semitism half a millennium ago”, said the magazine, adding that Rachamim has spent around £10,000 securing herself and her children new European passports.
But the pledge to simplify nationality applications will also help many Brits who have diligently followed the steps involved, only to find endless pitfalls.
Said one: “It’s all bonkers. My daughter for example (now 29) was born here so should have had no problems at all. We too have lived here since the late 80s, but when we submitted all the relevant papers, the ‘system’ didn’t know how to process some of them. As a result, some of the expensive paperwork expired, and now has to be done again. It has been completely maddening… and of course it’s ironic considering that a foreigner arriving here and working for seven years can apply and become Portuguese with no trouble”.