In a response sent to Lusa, the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) states that 223,000 immigrants are covered by the order published on 30 April, which determines that all immigrants with processes pending at SEF, whose requests were made within the defined time frame, are "temporarily in good standing" in the country until "the final administrative decision of the respective process".
SEF emphasises that these immigrants who temporarily have their situation regularised, can obtain access to the National Health Service or other rights to health care, access to social support benefits and the signing of lease and work contracts, as well as being able to open bank accounts and contract essential public services.
However, the president of Associação Solidariedade Imigrante said that immigrants covered by this measure are “imprisoned” in Portugal, since they “cannot leave the country to visit their family or look for another job, because they do not have documents”.
“This is a violation of human rights, they cannot do anything in their lives, despite having the user number. What are they going to do with the user number”, he asked. Timóteo Macedo also underlined that the immigrants covered by this order are “tied to the shackles of the bosses”, because they know that “they do not have documents and that their stay in national territory is provisionally regularised”.
The Associação Solidariedade Imigrante defends that all immigrants who have processes pending at SEF and covered by these orders should be automatically legalised . "Instead of going from office to office and in view of this exceptional situation, these people with pending cases must be given a residence permit immediately, regardless of their employment status," he claimed. According to Timóteo Macedo, this measure would “relieve SEF” and “resolve the problem of thousands of citizens who are imprisoned in this country”.
"With a residence permit, these immigrants can get better work and overcome the great precariousness of the housing issue", he concluded.