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AIMA needs 18 months to finish Cases it got from SEF.

Updated: Mar 25

At the end of October, 347,000 cases were pending and initial resolution predictions are largely missing.

AIMA Portugal

The Agency for Integration, Migration, and Asylum (AIMA) admits that recovering outstanding issues "is a gamble" that it hopes to resolve "during the next year and a half"

At the end of October, there were 347 thousand pending cases, which were transferred from the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF), now extinct, to the Agency for Integration, Migrations and Asylum (AIMA). The number was put forward by the Government itself, in a statement, at the end of October. In the same document, he guaranteed that recovering the pending issues was a priority and that there would be “a specific operation” to deal with this problem in the first quarter of 2024. However, the pending issue will take longer to resolve than initially expected. It will be a “year and a half”.

In office for just over a month, CNN Portugal asked AIMA about the current number of pending issues, but the response did not specify a concrete value. It was only said that “one of the big bets is the recovery, over the next year and a half, of all pending processes”.

In the October statement, the Government explained that AIMA planned to “set up a mega operation to recover outstanding issues in the first quarter of next year, with the involvement of local authorities and the network of Local Support Centers for the Integration of Migrants”, a project which also included the “installation of an AIMA Contact Center, the installation of specific stores within Lojas do Cidadão, the creation of its stores, or the expansion of physical presence in the territory, through partnerships with municipalities, universities, and other entities ”.

But the fact is that the resolution of pending issues is now expected to take a year and a half. It should be remembered that in addition to the 347 thousand pending immigrant cases, AIMA also had in its hands another 340 thousand renewal requests to be decided by the end of 2024. To speed up processes, AIMA guarantees that “there will be a big investment in technological matters, with news to be announced soon, and the creation of partnerships with local authorities and civil society”.

Regarding the IT constraints that were felt at the end of September and October, when the extinct SEF was still in operation, AIMA “clarifies that the Information and Automated Process Management System (SIGAP), for execution, control and information on processes of foreign citizens, has been operating without major constraints and without the need to reschedule appointments”. However, sources who moved from SEF to AIMA assure CNN Portugal that many problems persist and there are still constraints.

As for the future, an official source from AIMA made a point of highlighting to CNN Portugal “the four main axes of priority action” of the Agency which “include speed in issuing documents, promoting the learning of the Portuguese language, simplifying the recognition of qualifications and skills and family reunification”.

The issue of learning the Portuguese language had already been advanced in November by the Deputy Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, in response to deputies in the discussion of the State Budget (OE2024).

In a joint hearing of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, Rights, Freedoms and Guarantees and the Committee on Culture, Communication, Youth and Sports, for discussion on the specialty of OE2024, Ana Catarina Mendes assumed that the Government wanted to launch a new program in the first quarter of 2024 Portuguese Host Language (PLA). According to the minister, “There is no better way to include other than teaching the Portuguese language”.

However, the resignation of António Costa and the decision of the President of the Republic to call new elections will certainly postpone the projects planned for the first quarter of 2024, as at that time the country will be in the middle of the electoral campaign.

AIMA has already received 106 complaints in the Yellow Book

CNN Portugal also wanted to know how many complaints had been received by AIMA since it took office. The same source explained that “with regards to the registration of complaints in the Yellow Book, it reached 106 during November. In October, the month before AIMA took office, 279 complaints were registered”. In other words, there was a decrease.

AIMA finally added that the “Yellow Book exists at all service counters. It is through this official and credible instrument that the Agency investigates the facts, the subject of the complaint, and provides a response to the complainant”.

But recent data revealed by Portal da Queixa shows that between October and the end of November alone, on this platform, AIMA had totaled 207 complaints. But the truth is that in 2023, according to the same data, there was a 158% increase in complaints against the SEF. By November, 2,117 complaints had been received against SEF/AIMA.

Also according to Portal da Queixa, the main reason for complaints that reach the platform is the delay in the process of obtaining documents and the value reaches 46.5%. In second place comes the difficulty in contacting the organization (16%). Then there are problems with the delivery of documents (14.5%) and also difficulties with scheduling (10.5%).

Remember that in 2022, Portugal received around 121 thousand immigrants. The number was put forward by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and represents the highest value in the last nine years. The number is still an estimate, but the country went from receiving 30,800 immigrants in 2014 to 120,800 in 2022. It now remains to be seen whether the value will rise or fall in 2023.

Source. CNN Portugal Patricia Pires

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