Immigrants say they are "treated like garbage" and denounce injustices at SEF

By TPN/Lusa, in News · 12-07-2021 14:03:00 · 5 Comments

About a hundred immigrants gathered today in Lisbon to denounce that they are being "treated like garbage" and warn of the unfairness of the allocation of residence permits in the online system.

“We are tired of this situation, the biggest reason for the demonstration is despair, they force us to be in the system where we are in search of a vacancy for the last 24 hours, and we are workers, we are not criminals, we pay taxes, and the Government must see that", told Lusa the organizer of the demonstration, Juliete Cristina. For this Brazilian, who has been in Portugal since 2019 without getting a residence permit, the password allocation system through a computer platform of the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) encourages illegalities and extortion.

"There are people who make it by luck, others are paying, a lawyer tried to charge me 300 euros [for a vacancy to attend SEF], and a person in a moment of despair, after being here for three or four years, ends up paying , but I don't pay, because that's unfair," said the immigrant in statements to Lusa at Terreiro do Paço, in Lisbon.

Immigrants currently concentrated in Lisbon defend that the granting of a residence permit should be done in chronological order and that the process be automated from the moment that SEF gives the 'green light' to the reception of the documents, which are delivered digitally, arguing that "there is no reason to stay in this agony" after the documents are approved. "We put the document on the online portal, we wait up to 90 days for the SEF to approve the document, which is the legal deadline, but it takes eight months to a year for approval, and then there is still another platform to schedule, and what we ask is that it is done in chronological order," explained Juliete Cristina. "Those who arrive now don't have a job, have time to watch their cell phone all the time, and get a job, and I've been here for two years paying taxes and contributing to Social Security, I can't, this is unfair", pointed.

For the organizer of the demonstration, this situation is equivalent to an arrest and a withdrawal of rights such as traveling, buying a car or even finding a job. "We don't have the right to go to another country, we don't have the right to live, we're stuck in this country. I can't travel in the European Union because I don't have a residence, we're tied up, it's not just Brazilians or Africans, it's everyone, this happen to all immigrants, we are treated like garbage".

The Associação Solidariedade Imigrante recently denounced to Lusa that there are “authentic mafias” selling SEF appointments to immigrants for hundreds of euros. “The organized mafias and law firms take all the appointments. When they open appointments, they last 15 minutes on the SEF platform”, maintained the association's president, realising that immigrants are “being exploited” when they are charged “hundreds of euros for an appointment”. In early June, the Minister of Internal Affairs recognised in parliament that there is an “illegitimate appropriation” of digital agendas in SEF for immigrants, advancing that this system is currently under review.

Eduardo Cabrita underlined that internal investigations and the Public Ministry did not investigate criminal responsibility, but identified “erroneous practices, especially of some law firms that in the end monopolized the openings of digital appointments”, having been “set limits to the number of appointments made”. The Left Block has denounced that there are immigrants who take more than two years to get an appointment at the Foreigners and Borders Service, as well as the difficulties in accessing the SAPA platform.

In June, the SEF informed Lusa that the vacancies to assist immigrants who have processes pending in that service are “fully filled by 30th October” and there is no forecast of opening new vacancies. Data released at that time also indicated that 223,000 foreigners with cases pending at SEF have their situation regularised temporarily in Portugal due to the covid-19 pandemic, covered by an order of 30 April that allows them to obtain the user number, access to the Service National Health Service, social support services and the signing of leases and employment contracts, as well as opening bank accounts and contracting essential public services.

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Today is day i applied to sef in 2020 and my application still in process. It will another to process complete and then another year for fingerprints. I am wasting my efforts in portugal as foreigner we are the investors and taxpayers. Residency is basic to live in country, this year is my last year in Portugal if i am without immigration status, i can't live without family and i can't invest in country with name even can't open bank account.

By Abdul Majid from Porto on 14-07-2021 12:12

I am waiting for my application more than one year and still don't how long to take for approvel. After application approval next for appointment which totally bad situation. SEF always justify that its slow due to pandemic but in we can see other government departments work normally and properly i.e banks, finance and social. They need to mercy on us and try solve our conditions. We cannot do anything without residency.

By Khan zaman from Lisbon on 13-07-2021 01:39

Guida's comment highlights the unfortunate situation many foreigners find themselves in. Obtaining work visas and residence permits should be a straight-forward process, with transparency and fairness.
Due to the pandemic and the influx of foreign applicants the SEF has been unable to cope with the requests for appointments. There is a huge backlog that needs clearing.
The online scheduling for appointments does not work. Telephone service is appalling - nobody answers the phone. Response to emails is 'please telephone'.
No wonder some people pay lawyers and other middlemen who secure an appointment, thus bypassing the queue of other applicants who have been waiting longer. Where is the fairness in this system?

By Annie from Algarve on 13-07-2021 11:19

They Portuguese treat "all" foreigners badly, irrelevant of where they are from. They truly hate English and i myself have been told at least a dozen times, this country is for Portuguese and I should leave. Portuguese are born racist.

By Michael from Alentejo on 13-07-2021 10:32

This is true, and the reason I know this is I have friends and acquaintances that aren´t European rich ex-pats. I still remember catching a cab at 3-4am(no metro/normal buses functioning at that hour) just so I could stand in the beginning of the line at CNAI in Anjos, so that a foreigner who´s a single dad could come join me at normal hours and try solve his matters. This was summertime, the kid was off school, so understandably it was cruel to:a) wake the kid up that hour so you both wait until it opens(ppl are standing in line for hours before),b) come closer to opening time and the queue is so big you know you´ll waste a whole day there wainting for your turn.(then,bc you can´t leave the queue and waste your turn, you´ll have expenses, food and water and having to use a toilet). I realize CNAI isn´t SEF, but this is an example of migrants who aren´t European and/or rich ex-pats. I´m not a migrant, I was born here in Lisbon, yet if you have friends/aquaintances from all backgrounds you live under no illusions.Maybe “Portugal News” writers and staff could benefit from interviewing these migrants and educate themselves on how the other half lives. Maybe if they did so, they´d do a much more trustworthy account of what the country is really like. Bc ex-pats who aren´t rich are ppl too,you know? You know, the ppl who clean your houses or construct them? They´re PEOPLE, not Lego figures that you write about once in a blue moon.

By guida from Lisbon on 13-07-2021 05:29
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