The online renewal of residence permits in Portugal for foreigners will be available again this week and will cover “golden visas” for the first time.
The measure, which the Government had already resorted to last year, aims to overcome the congestion at the in-person and telephone service desks at the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF), according to newspaper Publico.
In October, SEF registered a peak of 29 million call attempts in a 12-hour period, when the daily capacity of employees does not exceed 3,000 calls. The switchboard could not withstand the pressure and stopped working.
Last year, thousands of immigrants, most of them Brazilians, were unable to leave Portugal and many of them prevented from finding work or opening a bank account because their residence permits had expired.
This time, the automatic renewal functionality is initially available for the approximately 21,500 visas that expire between January 1st and March 31st, according to the SEF, “with a guarantee of compliance with security rules and mitigation of the consequences that resulted from the health emergency situation” caused by the pandemic.
Citizens who can automatically renew expired residence permits are those whose biometric data have already been previously collected and whose documentation is already known by the SEF.
The Government is allowing expired documents relating to stay in national territory to continue to be considered valid until December 31, 2023 and even after that date, subject to proof of scheduling for their renewal, provided that the expiry has occurred from the 15th of December onwards.
The functionality that will again allow the online renewal of the document should be available this Monday or, at the latest, on Tuesday. Since the Government opened this possibility last summer, more than 200,000 automatic revalidations have been carried out.
There are currently 225,000 expressions of interest to reside in Portugal pending evaluation. And, in mid-October, there were also 19,000 requests for renewal of residence permits for investment activity, the so-called “golden visas”, to be decided on, a situation that also led to many complaints, not least because online revalidation was not possible. .