The leaders of the Union of Employees of the Foreigners and Borders Service (SINSEF), which represents workers in non-police careers, had a first meeting with the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs, Ana Catarina Mendes, who will oversee the APMA, the agency that will replace SEF in dealing with administrative matters for immigrants.

The president of SINSEF, Artur Girão, told Lusa that this first working meeting with the minister served to review the status of the transfer of employees from the SEF to the APMA, as well as the expectations in terms of the careers of the workers who perform administrative functions.

Artur Girão said that the Government's intention is to have the proposal on the creation of the APMA completed by the end of the year and that the transition period from the SEF to the future agency will be carried out during the first quarter of 2023.

The unionist explained that the approximately 700 non-police employees of the SEF will be transferred to the APMA, there being no problem in this change of body because they will perform the same functions.

More workers needed

However, Artur Girão warned of the need for the APMA to reinforce the number of workers, taking into account that the current employees are too few for the amount of matters to be dealt with in relation to foreigners residing in Portugal.

The end of SEF was decided by the previous Government and approved by the Assembly of the Republic in November 2021, having already been postponed twice, pending the creation of the Portuguese Agency for Migration and Asylum.

The police powers of SEF will pass to the PSP, GNR and the Judiciary Police, while the current attributions in administrative matters regarding foreign citizens will be exercised by the APMA and the Institute of Registries and Notaries (IRN).

Artur Girão said that, from a consultation made with non-police officials, “few workers” expressed interest in moving to the IRN.

Avoiding “chaos”

Artur Girão also said that the union conveyed to the minister the need to adopt a new technological approach to serving immigrants to avoid the current chaos in scheduling services and expressed concern about careers, which needed to be made more attractive.