IMMIGRATION LAW – LIVING IN PORTUGAL What are the requirements for entry into Portugal? To enter Portugal foreigners must: 1. Be holders of a valid and recognised travel document (passport) – this should be valid for a period of time of at least three months greater than the envisaged period of stay, except in the case of a foreigner resident in the country who is returning; 2. Be holders of an entry visa which is both valid and appropriate for the intended purpose of the journey (the visa only gives the holder the right to present himself at a border post and request entry to the country, and does not confer an automatic right to enter Portugal); 3. Have enough means of subsistence, both for the period of stay, and for the journey back to the country to which you are guaranteed admission (these means of substance requirements may be dispensed with if a document assuming responsibility is presented which has been issued by a Portuguese or foreign citizen authorised to reside permanently in Portugal, and which guarantees food and accommodation for the foreigner during the period of stay). Can I enter Portugal without a visa? Foreigners may enter Portugal without a visa under the following conditions: 1. Foreigners who have a valid residence permit, permission to stay permit, extension of stay permit or, for example, in the case of embassy and consular staff recognised in Portugal, with a valid identity card issued by the Foreign Office; 2. Foreigners who benefit from the terms and accords of any international agreement to which Portugal is a signatory. What types of visas are there? There are visas that are issued abroad and those which are issued at border posts. What types of visa are issued abroad? In the Portuguese embassies and consular posts various types of visa can be issued. Each has a distinct purpose, a definite period of validity and only grants temporary stay in the country for the purpose for which the visa was granted. The following types of visa exist: 1. stopover visa; 2. transit visit; 3. short stay visa; 4. residence visa; 5. study visa; 6. work visa; 7. temporary stay visa What is a stopover visa? It allows the holder to use it for an international travel connection, while passing through an airport or port, with the foreigner only having access to the international part of the airport or maritime port. What is a transit visa? It allows the holder to temporarily enter Portugal while on route to another country which has granted him admission. The length of each transit cannot exceed five days. What is a short stay visa? It allows the holder to enter Portugal for reasons which are accepted by the relevant authorities, but which do not justify the granting of another kind of visa. This visa can be issued with a period of validity/use which can be up to one year, but the authorised period of stay in Portugal which it confers is 90 days each six months. What is a study visa? It allows the holder to enter Portugal in order to: 1. Follow a programme of studies in an officially recognised educational institution; 2. Carry out scientific research as part of an academic degree or which is of scientific interest to an officially recognised educational institution; 3. Carry out an internship to conclude studies either abroad or in this country; 4. Carry out internships in companies, the Civil Service or training centres that are not considered official educational institutions. This visa can be granted to allow residence in Portugal for periods of up to one year. If I am the holder of a study visa am I able to work? You can exercise your professional activity in a supplementary form while you are successfully carrying out the purpose for which the visa was issued. What is a work permit? It allows the holder to enter Portugal in order to temporarily carry out a professional activity, whether employed or not. This visa can be granted to allow residence in Portugal for periods of up to one year. What kinds of work permit are there? The following types of work permit exist: 1. Work permit I – to carry out a professional activity within the fields of sport or entertainment; 2. Work permit II – to carry out a professional activity which involves scientific research or which presupposes highly qualified technical knowledge, which in either case must be suitably verified by the relevant branch of the public administration; 3. Work permit III – to carry out independent professional activity within the scope of providing a professional service; 4. Work permit IV - to carry out employed professional activity. What is a temporary stay visa? This is aimed at allowing people to enter Portugal in order to: 1. Receive medical treatment in official or officially recognised medical facilities; 2. Accompany family members who come for the reason previously outlined, family members who have a study visa or family members who have a work permit; for such purposes a family member is either a. a spouse, b. children who are minors or handicapped and for whom one of spouses is responsible, c. minors adopted by either the applicant or spouse, d. directly related members of the family of the resident or spouse, e. brothers and sisters who are minors provided they are his responsibility, and the resident is the guardian; 3. Family reunion for members who have permission to stay status, under conditions to be specified in a a regulatory decree; 4. Exceptional cases which are well substantiated. This visa can be granted for periods of stay for up to a year. If I am the holder of a temporary stay visa, can I work? In certain well-substantiated cases, these visas allow the holder to carry out a professional activity along the same lines as those who are holders of a work permit. The former law did not permit the holder of a temporary stay visa to engage in any form of professional activity. What is a residence visa? It allows the holder to enter Portugal with a view to applying for a residence permit. This visa allows the holder to remain in Portugal for six months. Does this mean that if I have a residence visa I am not considered a resident? You are not considered a resident. Someone having a residence visa is not yet a resident, but only authorised to apply for a residence permit. I am the holder of a residence visa. Can I be refused permission to reside in Portugal? Yes, the fact of being in possession of a residence visa does not oblige the Service for Border Control and Aliens (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras – SEF) to grant you authorisation to reside. Additional criteria have to be satisfied. Which criteria are taken into account when considering a request for a resident visa? In considering a request for a residence visa, the following criteria will be taken into account: 1. The reason why the stay is being requested and its chance of success, for example family reunion (the applicant must hand in a statement giving the reason for the request); 2. Means of subsistence which the applicant has to live in the country (regarding the means through which this proof can be made you should consult Regulatory Decree (Decreto Regulamentar) Nº 9/2001, 31 May, which is available at www.acime.gov.pt ); 3. Accommodation conditions. I have arrived at Portugal without a visa. What can I do? At the border posts the Director-General of SEF can grant the following types of visa: 1. Transit visa. 2. Short stay visa. 3. Special visa. What is a special visa? Due to humanitarian or national interest reasons, recognised by an Order issued by the Home Secretary, a visa may be granted to enter and temporarily stay in the country to foreigners who do not meet all the necessary legal conditions for such a visa. I am a relative of a Portuguese citizen. Are the conditions under which I have entered Portugal identical to what has been described above? Foreign relatives of a Portuguese family are entitled to the same rights as those granted to relatives of other citizens of the European Union, a condition outlined in Decree-Law nº 60/93, 3 March, along with the alterations introduced by Decree-Law 250/98, 11 August (this legislation is available for consultation at www.acime.gov.pt). In this situation a residence card is issued, in accordance with the provisions outlined in the previously mentioned Decree- Law. Which relatives are included in this? For the purposes under consideration the following are considered relatives: 1. The spouse or individual who has lived with the other in conditions similar to that of two spouses for more than two years; 2. Children who are less than 21 years of age or whom one or both spouses are legally responsible for; 3. Older relatives of the Portuguese citizen or the respective spouse for whom they are legally responsible; 4. Any other relative of the Portuguese citizen or spouse, as long as they are the legal responsibility of the former or the person he or she cohabits with in the country of their normal residence. Can my entry visa to Portugal be annulled? Yes. The visa may be annulled by the issuing agency abroad or by the Service for Border Control and Aliens (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras – SEF) in Portugal. On what grounds can my entry visa be annulled? The visa can be annulled when reasons for non-admission are given by the Schengen Information System, the Integrated Information System of the Service for Border Control and Aliens (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras – SEF) , or when the holder has made false declarations when requesting the granting of the visa. Can I be refused entry to Portugal? Your entry into Portugal can be refused on the following grounds: 1. You are not the holder of a valid recognised travel document (passport); 2. You are not the holder of a valid visa suitable for the purpose of your journey; 3. If you have presented a document that is false, has been falsified, belonging to another or illegally obtained. 4. You do not have sufficient means for subsistence. 5. You constitute a danger or serious threat to public order, national safety or international relations. 6. If an order banning entry exists. The decision regarding the refusal of entry into Portugal is the responsibility of the Director General of SEF. What can I do in response to the refusal to allow entry? The decision to refuse entry can be legally contested in the Administrative Courts. By contesting the decision can I be allowed to enter the country? No. Contesting the decision does not suspend the decision to refuse entry. What rights do I have as a foreigner who has not been admitted? During your stay in the international zone of an airport or at a temporary reception centre, the foreigner who has been refused entry into Portugal can communicate with the diplomatic or consular representative of his country or any country of his choice. He may also where necessary use the services of an interpreter and have access to health care, including the presence of a doctor, where necessary. He may also be seen by a freely chosen lawyer, with the individual supporting the respective costs of this. Can I be banned from entry into Portugal? Foreigners can be banned from entry into Portugal when: 1. The Schengen Information System provides information to this effect; 2. They are on the national list of inadmissible people, due to for example: a. Having been expelled from the country; b. Having been redirected to another host country through a readmission agreement; c. Having been sentenced by a court to imprisonment for a period of not less than one year. d. Having received support from the Portuguese State to voluntarily return to their country of origin. e. Having been escorted to the border. Can my entry visa be cancelled? Visas can be cancelled in the following situations: 1. When the holder has not satisfied or left unsatisfied conditions established for the granting of the visa; 2. When they have been issued based on false declarations, using fraudulent means or through stating different reasons for entry to those which are the actual ones used by the holder to enter the country; 3. When the reasons for the granting of the visa no longer exist. The cancelling of visas falls under the competence of the Home Secretary, who may delegate this power to the Director General of SEF. What is Permission to Stay status? It is a legal mechanism established by Decree-Law nº 4/2001, 10 January, which permits the granting of permission to stay status to foreigners who are here in Portugal, who are not holders of a suitable visa and who satisfy the following conditions: 1. They are holders of an employment contract or proposed employment contract which has been approved by IDICT; 2. They have not been sentenced by a court to imprisonment for a period of greater than six months; 3. They have not previously been expelled from the country and subsequently been the subject of a banning order regarding entry into Portugal; 4. None of the interested parties are included in the Schengen Information System as being inadmissible for entry; 5. They are not included in the SEF integrated information system as being inadmissible for entry. How can I ask for permission to stay status? The new immigration law has revoked permission to stay status. Does this mean that I can no longer obtain permission to stay status? No. The content of the new law does not prejudice those requests for permission to stay status that are still pending and which were submitted while the status was still in force. But if you have not already submitted a request in this regard, it is no longer possible to do so. Can I extend my permission to stay status? Yes. Permission to stay authorisations which have already been issued may by extended for annual periods, as long as the holder is carrying out contracted employment, and the maximum period that permission to stay status is granted is five years, counting from the date when the status was first granted. What do I have to do to extend my permission to stay status? You should go to a Branch, Regional Branch or Public Reception Post of SEF which have specifically been set up for this purpose (Lisbon, Setúbal, Santarém, Coimbra and Faro) in the area where you work, and bring a: 1. Valid passport; 2. Photograph; 3. Three copies of your work contract which should be valid at the time your request is submitted; 4. Three copies of any other previous work contracts which were signed after your permission to stay status was issued; 5. A document showing your situation with regard to Social Security; 6. Criminal Record Certificate. Note: It is not necessary to submit the extension request in the same Branch, Regional Branch or Public Reception Post which first issued your permission to stay status. When should I ask for an extension to my permission to stay status? The extension should be applied for by the date which corresponds to the expiry date of your permission to stay status or, exceptionally, after this date, but never more than 60 days after its expiry date. If 60 days have passed your request for an extension will not be granted. Do I have to pay to ask for permission to stay status or to ask for an extension? To grant or extend permission to stay status a charge corresponding to 75 Euros is levied. ( Ministerial Order – Portaria nº 27-A/2002, 4 January) The expiry date of my visa has expired. What should I do to remain in Portugal? If you wish to remain in Portugal for a longer period than you were initially granted on entry, you should request the Director General of SEF for an extension to your stay, and this will only be granted if the same reasons which led to the decision to allow you to enter the country are still present (except for clearly justified cases). Please note that requests for an extension of stay will not be granted if they are handed in 60 days after the expiry date of the existing period of stay (30 days in the case of short stay visas). Are there limits regarding the extension of my stay? Extension of stay is for a limited period of time, which varies according to the reason given to justify the request, as well as the type of visa being considered, and also varies according to each case and the portfolio of documents which must be handed in (to know which documents should be handed in, you should consult Regulatory Degree (Decreto Regularmentar) nº 9/2001, 31 May, available at www.acime.gov.pt). Extension of stay may be granted: 1. For up to 5 days, in the case of a transit visa; 2. For up to 60 days, in the case of a special visa; 3. For up to 90 days, extendable for an equal period, in the case of a short stay visa of where a visa is not required (in exceptional cases this may be extended beyond this limit); 4. For up to 1 year, extendable for equal periods, in the case of a study visa or temporary stay visa (this limit does not apply to study visas for a programme of studies or for a supplementary work experience as part of a study programme), (in exceptional cases this may be extended beyond this limit). 5. For up to two years, in the case of a work visa (in exceptional cases this may be extended beyond this limit). And what about my relatives? For exceptional reasons, occurring after legal entry into Portugal, an extension of stay of relatives of holders of study visas, temporary stay visas, work visas and permission to stay status may be granted. However, the validity and period of extension of stay can never be greater than the validity and period of extension of the visa granted to the relative. Which relatives does this concern? This concerns the spouse, children who are minors or handicapped and the responsibility of the couple or one of the spouses, minors adopted by the applicant or spouse, older relatives related in the first degree to the resident or spouse, as long as they are their responsibility, or brothers and sisters who are minors, as long as they are under the guardianship of the resident. Who is considered a resident under the new Immigration Law? The new law considers a resident to be a foreigner who is in possession of a valid residence permit document ( título válido de autorização de residência) in Portugal. The previous law considered a resident to be a foreigner who is in possession of a valid residence document (título válido de residência) in Portugal. What is a residence permit? A residence permit is a document that is issued in the form of a residence permit that permits foreign citizens to remain in Portugal for a certain period of time or for an indefinite period of time. There are two types of residence permit: temporary and permanent. Which identification documents do I need to have? The residence permit substitutes, to all intents and purposes, the identity card of a foreign citizen. The residence permit is the only identification document that can prove legally resident status in Portugal. Which conditions to I have to meet in order to apply for a residence permit? To be granted a residence permit, the applicant must meet the following conditions: 1. Be in possession of a valid residence visa, which has been issued to allow entry into Portuguese territory to immigrants who wish to apply for a residence permit and which is valid for a period of six months and allows two further entries into the country; 2. Present in Portuguese territory; 3. The non-existence of any fact that, if known by the authorities before the granting of the residence permit, would be an obstacle to the issuing of the same. What is a temporary residence permit? A temporary residence permit has the following characteristics: 1. It is valid for a period of two years from the date of issue of the permit; 2. It is renewable for successive periods of three years; 3. The residence permit must be renewed whenever any personal identification details in the document change; 4. It is possible for there to be situations in which the need for a residence visa can be dispensed with in order to obtain the residence permit (mentioned in advance). What is a permanent residence permit? A permanent residence permit has the following characteristics: 1. It has no expiry date. 2. The residence permit must be renewed every five years or whenever necessary – that is, whenever any personal identification details change. Who can apply for a permanent residence permit? The foreigners who can obtain a permanent residence permit are those who cumulatively: 1. Have legally resided in Portugal for at least 5 or 8 years, depending whether the citizen is, respectively, from a PALOPS country (i.e. a country where Portuguese is an official language) or from other countries; 2. During the last 5 or 8 years of residence in Portuguese territory, depending on the case, they have not been condemned and sentenced, either singularly or cumulatively, to more than one year in prison. Where can I ask for a Residence Permit? A request for a Residence Permit must be handed in to the Regional Branch of the Service for Border Control and Aliens (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras – SEF) in your area of residence, through the completion and signing of an application form (or signed by a legal representative when the application concerns minors under 10 years of age or handicapped persons). This application form should be handed in along with the following documents: 1. Passport or other valid identification document; 2. Valid residence visa, except when not required; 3. Two identical passport photographs, in colour and good condition; 4. Proof of means of subsistence; 5. Documents proving a family connection, where required; 6. Certificate of consular registration. The Service for Border Control and Aliens (SEF) will make a decision regarding the granting or not of the residence permit within a period of 60 days. In which situations can a residence visa be dispensed with in order to obtain a residence permit? A residence visa is not required to obtain a residence permit for foreigners in the following situations: a) minors, children of foreign citizens, born in Portuguese territory, who are entitled to the same residence status which has been granted to either of their biological parents (in order to issue the residence permit document, one of the parents should submit the necessary request within six months of the registration of the birth of the minor); b) relatives of national citizens and citizens who are nationals of states who are signatories to the treaty concerning the European Economic Area; c) those who no longer have the right to asylum in Portugal, through the reasons for the initial granting of this right having ceased to exist and which had hitherto allowed them this protection; d) those who suffer from a disease which requires prolonged medical assistance which impedes their returning to their country, so as to avoid prejudicing the health of the individual; e) minors in one of the situations covered by the content of section nº 1 of Article 1921 of the Civil Code (Codigo Civil); f) those who have completed their military service for the Portuguese Armed Forces; g) those whose activities in the scientific, cultural, economic or social areas is considered as being of essential interest to the country; h) those who cohabit as common law spouses with a Portuguese citizen, with a national citizen of a country which is a signatory to the treaty of the European Economic Area or with a foreign resident as far as the law is concerned (common law spouses of resident citizens must have been in this situation for at least two years and when the family member regularly resides in national territory); i) those who have not left national territory and whose right to reside has expired; j) those who have children who are minors and resident in Portugal or who have Portuguese nationality and who are legally parents and economically sustain and bring them up. k) those who have been holders of a residence permit for an uninterrupted period of five years; l) members of embassies and consuls and their respective spouses, and children and parents they are responsible for, who have been accredited in Portugal for a period of not less than 3 years. In the cases where a request can be made for a residence permit without the need for a residence visa, the documents needed vary according to the particular situation of each case and the reason that allows the residence visa to be dispensed with. If I do not meet the conditions required, do I have any other way of obtaining a residence permit? When it is shown that a case involves exceptional circumstances not covered by the situations relating to family reunion or the dispensing of the need for a residence visa, a residence permit can be exceptionally issued to foreign citizens who do not meet the conditions required, if this is in the national int erest, and carried out through a request to the Director General of SEF or through the initiative of the Home Secretary. How can I renew my residence permit? A request to renew a residence permit must be handed in at the Regional Branch of SEF in your area of residence, through a form that must be completed and signed by yourself (or by a legal representative in the case of minors under the age of 10 or handicapped persons). The request for renewal must be accompanied by proof of means of subsidence (regarding forms of proof see Regulatory Degree (Decreto Regulamentar) nº 9/2001, 31 May) and a Criminal Register certificate, and the request may be turned down if the person applying for renewal does not meet the minimum conditions necessary to continue residing in Portugal. When should I request a renewal of my residence permit? The renewal of a temporary residence permit should be requested by the interested party up to 30 days before its expiry date. For the period of one year following the expiry date of the temporary residence permit you can still request its renewal but in this case you will be subject to the payment of a fine. However, if you do not request the renewal of your residence permit within the period of one year after its expiry date, you will lose your right to residence. What criteria are used when considering renewal? When considering renewal, the Service for Border Control and Aliens (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras – SEF ) will consider the following criteria: 1. Means of subsistence demonstrated by the interested party; 2. Housing conditions; 3. Compliance with Portuguese legislation by the interested party, for example those laws concerning foreigners. The decision concerning the request for renewal will be taken by the Service for Border Control and Aliens (SEF) and must be made within a period of 30 days, after which the request must be considered as successful. Am I given any proof that I have handed in a request for the granting or renewal of a residence permit? These requests are registered when they are handed in and you will be given a receipt slip upon delivery of your application, which is valid for 60 days. While you case is being considered, this slip is used as proof of your status as a foreigner resident in Portugal. I have lost my residence permit document. What should I do? A second copy of the residence permit document can be requested if it is in a bad state of conservation, it has been lost, destroyed or stolen. The request for a second copy should be accompanied by a declaration explaining the reasons for the request and, in the case of theft, with a copy of the police report of the theft. The request should be accompanied by two photographs of the applicant. The request should be handed in to the regional branch of SEF in your area of residence through filling out an application form that must be signed by the applicant (or his legal representative in the case of minors under 10 years of age or handicapped persons). I am in jail. How can I renew my residence permit? The renewal of a residence permit of a foreigner who is serving a term of imprisonment can only be carried out if they have not been sentenced to being expelled from the country. The request for a residence permit that has lapsed will not be contested if it is presented within 30 days after the interested party has been released from jail. In which circumstances could I find myself without a residence permit? Besides the situations in which your request for renewal of your residence permit may be turned down by SEF, your residence permit may also be cancelled. The power to carry out this decision is vested in the Home Secretary, who can devolve this power to the Director General of SEF. The cancellation must be notified to the interested party along with the reasons that led to the seizure of the corresponding document. On what grounds can my residence permit be cancelled? A residence permit is cancelled: 1. Whenever the foreigner is the object of a decision to expel him from national territory. 2. When it was issued on the basis of fraudulent declarations or through the use of fraudulent means. The residence permit can equally be cancelled when the interested party is absent from the country for substantial periods without just cause. 1. For holders of a temporary residence period, this corresponds to six consecutive months or 8 months in total within the period of validity of the residence permit. 2. For holders of a permanent residence permit, this corresponds to 24 consecutive months or, within a period of 3 years, 30 months in total. This absence beyond the limits established may be justified through the handing in of a request to SEF before the departure of the resident from national territory or, in exceptional cases, after departure. What can I do to appeal against the non-renewal or cancellation of my residence permit? You can submit an appeal to the Home Secretary. If he confirms the decision, you can lodge an appeal in the administrative courts. And in the case of relatives? A residence permit issued within the scope of the right to family reunion is cancelled when: 1. The sole purpose of the marriage is to allow the beneficiary of family reunion the right to enter and legally reside in the country; 2. The holder loses the right to residence and the relative does not yet meet the conditions to be entitled to a residence permit in his own right; 3. The resident and the relatives no longer maintain family ties (in exceptional cases, such as legal separation of individuals and goods, divorce, widowhood, death of a relative or when adulthood has been reached, the right to a residence permit can be granted to an individual without the necessary two year period). Which basic precautions should I take once I start residing in Portugal? 1. Always carry your passport, residence document, identity card or other identity document with you; 2. Always carry your consular document with you, and the telephone, fax numbers and address of your Embassy or Consulate; 3. Always carry with you the telephone numbers of relatives or a friend who can be contacted in the event of an emergency; 4. Do not let any documents that have a fixed period of validity, such as a passport, visa, Identity Card, or your residence permit document or any other document, expire. 5. Scrupulously follow Portuguese law, particularly laws which relate to foreigners 6. If you are a foreign resident, always tell the Service for Border Control and Aliens (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras SEF) of any changes in your nationality, marital status, profession, residence or any absences from the country which are for periods of more than 90 days. What are the grounds for being expelled from Portugal? Foreign citizens shall be expelled from Portuguese territory if: 1. They have irregularly entered or remained in Portuguese territory; 2. If they have acted against national security, public order or good habits; 3. If their presence or activities has constituted a threat to the interests or dignity of the Portuguese State or its nationals; 4. If they have interfered in an abusive way in the exercise of rights regarding political participation reserved for national citizens; 5. If they have practised acts which, if they had been known to the Portuguese authorities, would have prevented their entry into the country. Who can carry out expulsion? The legal or administrative authorities are the only entities which have the power to expel a foreigner. In the case of an administrative expulsion this falls under the competence of the Director of SEF. Legal expulsion is a matter for the judicial authorities (criminal law courts of the first instance and district courts), with this sentence being applied in its own right or as an additional sentence in a criminal case. If the act of expulsion is considered unjust what can the foreigner do about this? He can lodge an appeal regarding the expulsion decision in the judicial or higher courts, depending on whether the expulsion decision was an administrative or judicial decision. Does the act of appealing allow the foreigner to reside in the country? No. Contesting the decision does not suspend the act, and does not suspend the decision to expel. To which country could the foreigner be expelled? In principle a foreigner can only be expelled to his country of origin. However expulsion cannot be carried out to any country where the foreigner may be persecuted for reasons that, under the terms of law, confer the right to the granting of asylum. Can I return to Portugal after having been expelled? A foreigner who has been expelled is banned from entering national territory for a period of not less than 5 years. We would like to acknowledge the help of the Service for Border Control and Aliens (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras SEF) in the production of this brochure.
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