Requests for Portuguese citizenship are at an all-time high.
The latest immigration and asylum (RIFA) report by borders agency SEF shows that more than 74,000 foreign citizens applied for Portuguese nationality last year – while the country’s foreign resident population is at its highest ‘since 1976’ (very possibly meaning ‘since records began’).
There was an increase of 22.9% in foreign citizens holding residency – compared to 590,348 in 2018.
Brazilians remain the largest foreign resident community in Portugal (at 151,304 they represent 25.6% of the total last year), followed by Cape Verdeans (37,436), Brits (34,358), Romanians (31,065), Ukrainians (29,718), Chinese (27,839), Italians (25,408), French (23,125) and Angolans (22,691).
Last year also saw a notable increase in the number of Indians and Nepalese coming here for work purposes. Says RIFA, there are now 17, 619 Indians living here legally, and 16,849 Nepalese. These work immigrants tend to live in the districts of Lisbon, Faro (Algarve) and Setúbal. Their numbers rose from 330,763 in 2018 to 405,089 just 12 months later.
Foreigners who acquired Portuguese citizenship were from Brazil (22,928), Israel (18,433), Cape Verde (6,472), Angola (2,993), Ukraine (2,738), Guinea-Bissau (2,538) and Turkey (1,629).
Most requests for Portuguese citizenship are related to naturalization (68.9%), followed by marriage and de facto union (13.3%) and original attribution (11%).
Asylum applications in Portugal also increased by 45.3% in 2019, reaching 1,849, the highest since 2015. The majority were single men coming from the African continent, according to the RIFA report.
RIFA also showed that 183 refugee statuses were granted in 2019 (markedly less than the 286 in 2018), predominantly to nationals of Asian countries, and 113 titles of residence permit for subsidiary protection (405 in 2018) were also granted.
Stresses analysis by the Portuguese American Journal, “Portugal also remains as one of the best places in the world to invest and retire. The Portugal Golden Visa Program has seen an increase in applications in the first quarter of 2020. Accordingly, between January and April of 2020, 259 main applicants and 515 dependents received their Golden Visa residence cards from the program”.
(Both the Golden Visa and Non-Habitual Residency programmes – which have been attracting wealthy foreigners to Portugal for years – were due to be ‘curtailed’ in the last State Budget, but have continued in light of the crisis created by the new coronavirus until at least 2021 click here)