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Portugal's New Immigration Laws: A Setback of 17 Years

Nearly 50 associations advocating for immigrant rights have condemned the termination of the Expression of Interest, arguing that the government's action represents "a regression of at least 17 years in immigration policies."

Expression of Interest in Portugal

"The immigrant associations strongly oppose the termination of the Expression of Interest, viewing it as a setback of at least 17 years in immigration policies. Furthermore, they argue it harks back to conditions predating 2007 or even the previous century, when tens of thousands of immigrants lived in irregular situations, vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous employers and criminal networks during major construction projects like Expo 98 and the Vasco da Gama bridge," stated the 47 organizations.

Under the title 'Protest Demonstration of the Associative Movement,' these associations assert that the measure "not only excludes tens of thousands of immigrants who are working and contributing to Social Security, hoping to submit an Expression of Interest to obtain a Residence Permit but also closes doors to those the country needs."

Arguing that Portuguese companies "will not hire workers they do not know and who are thousands of kilometers away," the associations criticize the government's initiative for shifting queues from outside the Agency for the Integration of Migrations and Asylum (AIMA) to consulates, which lack the resources to process applications or combat alleged mafias involved in the work visa process.

The cessation of the Expression of Interest—previously a legal avenue for foreigners in Portugal to inform authorities of job prospects and seek regularization as immigrants—was announced on the 3rd and took effect the following day.

Since then, all new requests for Expression of Interest have been denied, even for applicants already residing in Portugal.

The government now requires immigrants to initiate the process at Portuguese consulates and embassies before entering Portugal, a policy that poses challenges for individuals from countries without Portuguese diplomatic missions.

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