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SEF delays are exacerbated by IT problems

Updated: Mar 25

According to a CNN Portugal report, SEF appointments are being frequently canceled, compelling individuals to reschedule, with additional delays stemming from computer-related issues.

The challenges lie in the realm of IT applications," stated Artur Jorge Girão, President of SINSEF, the SEF employees' union. As the official transition from the Foreigners and Borders Service to the Agency for Integration, Migration, and Asylum (AIMA) approaches, the backlog of pending issues is growing. Even SEF acknowledges the presence of "limitations."

For at least "two weeks," the computer system has been beset by issues that are significantly impacting service delivery. Appointments are frequently postponed, and individuals are compelled to reschedule, affecting various processes, including residence permit issuance, renewals, and document printing. According to Artur Girão, "The congestion and restrictions affect all aspects related to producing and issuing documents."

He also points out the aging state of their computer application, which has been in operation for over a decade. In an era where information technology advances every six months, it may already be considered outdated. Girão underscores the urgency of investing in future technology to address these challenges, warning that without such investments, the backlog of pending issues may remain unresolved.

SEF has officially acknowledged the presence of "system sluggishness" and "constraints," as confirmed to CNN Portugal.

In their emailed response, SEF stated that in 2008, they implemented the Information and Automated Process Management System (SIGAP) to enhance the efficiency and control of processes, with the goal of providing real-time process status updates to citizens and facilitating dynamic process management. However, over the years, SIGAP has evolved with the integration of new functionalities required to fulfill SEF's responsibilities, including interactions with various internal and external systems. These integrations, at times, contribute to system slowdowns.

SEF did not specify when these issues started, but they assured that they are taking measures to mitigate these constraints, with a focus on minimizing their impact. Additionally, SEF mentioned that citizens whose appointments were canceled due to SIGAP processing difficulties have been notified of their new appointment dates via email.

It's worth noting that recent reports from Diário de Notícias indicate that there are approximately 270,000 pending residence visa applications, which were expected to be transferred to the new Agency for Integration, Migration, and Asylum.

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