On the 25th of August 2022, Law no. 18/2022 was published in Diário da Republica, the Portuguese official gazette, which amends Law no. 23/2007, commonly known as the “Foreigners’ Law”, an amendment that we have been waiting for since the Portuguese Council of Ministers approved, on the 15th of June 2022, the diplomas related to the mobility of foreign workers.
This Law no. 18/2022, has its changes, which the main ones are:
1) The operationalization of the Second Generation Schengen Information System (SIS II);
2) The simplification of visas for citizens of the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (hereinafter, “CPLP”);
3) The creation of a visa for job seekers;
4) The facilitation of the residence visa for higher education studies;
5) The creation of temporary stay and residence visas for digital nomads;
6) The automatic assignment of provisional NIF, NISS, and SNS within the scope of the residence visa;
7) Temporary stay or residence visas for family members entitled to the respective permits;
8) The elimination of quotas for the attribution of visas for the exercise of subordinate professional activity;
9) The simplification of procedures and increase in the validity of documents;
10) Simplification of the issue and renewal of the residence permit for British beneficiaries of the EU Exit Agreement.
Within the most relevant amendments, and still within the most awaited, we highlight the simplification of visas for CPLP citizens, a legislative amendment that implements the Agreement on Mobility between the Member States of the Community of the CPLP, signed in Luanda on 17 July 2021, and already ratified by Portugal.
Within this scope, measures were added relating to the simplification of the attribution of temporary visas to applicants covered by the CPLP Agreement, the regime of special conditions for the concession of short stay residence visas, to be applied when the applicant is covered by the CPLP Agreement, together with the possibility of converting short stay or temporary stay visas into a CPLP residence permit.
One of the main novelties in these procedures is the waiver of SEF’s (foreigners and border agency) prior opinion since the Consulate can now directly consult the second generation Schengen Information System (SIS II) and can refuse the visa in case of indication of non-admission or interdiction of stay, contained in the SIS II.
A new visa for job seekers was also created. This visa may have a duration of 120 days, which is extendable for a further 60 days and is limited to national territory.
The citizen will automatically have an appointment with the competent services for the concession of residence authorizations, within 120 days of the duration of the visa, giving him/her the right to request a residence authorization after the constitution and formalization of the employment relationship.
As for the long awaited temporary stay and residence visa for digital nomads, the new diploma extends the possibility of granting a temporary stay and residence visa to professionals who carry out remotely, outside of the national territory, their professional subordinated or independent activity, or who are entrepreneurs.
Regarding the attribution of NIF (in English, VAT identification), NISS (social security identification), and SNS number (national health service number), which is a recurrent problem for those who intended to reside in Portugal, and did not obtained a visa yet, the new law seems to facilitate the process. In this sense, the law now states that the issuing of a residence visa, or group or family reunion visa, must be accompanied by the issuing of a pre-authorization of residence, which contains information regarding the obtaining of the residence permit and the provisional attribution of the tax identification, social security, and national health service numbers.
The diploma also foresees the possibility of easier granting of visas for temporary stay or residence, for the purpose of accompanying family members entitled with the respective titles, allowing families to enter national territory together and in a regular basis.
With the legislative amendment, the anachronistic quota regime for residence visas for subordinate work was eliminated, which limited the granting of these visas to the indicative quota of employment opportunities, presumably not filled by national workers, nationals of member states of the European Union, and similar, approved by the Portuguese Council of Ministers. It should be noted that this regime has not been applied in practice for the last 3 years, under the Portuguese State Budget Law.
In the context of increasing the validity of documents, the new law determines that the temporary residence permit will be valid for a period of two years counted from the date of issue of the respective title and is renewable for successive periods of three years. Members of the family of a holder of a permanent residence permit are issued with a residence permit valid for two years, renewable for successive periods of three years.
As for the “Cartão Azul EU” (in English, EU Blue Card), it will have an initial validity of two years, renewable for successive periods of three years.
As far as the measures for simplifying the issuing and renewal of the residence permit for British citizens who are beneficiaries of the EU Exit Agreement are concerned, the new law determines that the Institute of Registration and Notary Affairs, I.P., and the Citizen Spaces, will now have concurrent competencies, together with SEF, for the issuing and renewal of the residence permit for British citizens who are beneficiaries of the said agreement.
These are legislative measures adopted with a view to promoting safe, orderly, and regulated migration, while at the same time aiming to combat the labour shortage, as it is expected that the simplification of the procedure for entering the country and the creation of the new visa for job seekers will increase the amount of foreign labour entering Portuguese territory.
We will keep an eye on the development of this matter.
Felipe Cunha, Leonor Frazão Grego @ DCM | Littler