Government agency says the measure is to speed up the process, but does not say whether the amount will be returned if residency is denied

Over the last week, many immigrants waiting to regularize their situation in Portugal were surprised by an email from Aima (Agency for Integration, Migrations and Asylum) asking them to pay a residence permit issuance fee before scheduling their trip to a service station.

According to the statement, they would have 10 working days to pay the amount, which could exceed €300 (R$1,665.00). Previously, the fee was paid when the residency application was accepted. Aima said that the amounts charged were not changed, the agency only changed the way the process is carried out. According to the agency, the reason is to speed up regularization.

O Poder360 Aima asked whether, if the regularization request was denied, the fee would be returned to the applicant. The agency, however, did not respond to that question.

Aima began operating in October 2023. It began to take care of some of the responsibilities of the SEF (Foreigners and Borders Service), a body that, until then, took care of the regularization of foreigners in Portugal and was extinguished. The agency estimates that there are around 400,000 cases pending.

Until this week’s change, immigrants filed a request called an Expression of Interest and made an in-person appointment. Getting this appointment is one of the main complaints from foreigners, who say they spend days trying to get help via telephone.

On the day of service, an employee from the agency checked the documents presented. If the regularization request was accepted, the applicant paid the fee and other charges, such as possible fines.

Aima told Poder360 be “aware of the enormous difficulties experienced” by immigrants when scheduling through the Contact Center. The agency stated that it intends to abandon this system by the 1st half of 2025, “replacing it, progressively, with digital systems”.

The change in the procedure for those who file an Expression of Interest is part of this initiative, as is the advance payment of the fee.

In the days following payment validation, the person requesting [o título de residência] receive an appointment proposal, and no longer have to call the Contact Center to make the appointment”, reads the note sent to the digital newspaper by the agency.

On a date closer to the appointment, the person making the request receives instructions on how to resubmit all updated information and documentation, in order to speed up the processing of their request and simplify service.”, he adds. “This procedure also eliminates payments over the counter, speeding up and simplifying service. And thus, allowing vacancies to be made available to more people”, he adds.


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