“There are many emigrants who want to return to Madeira and the Azores”, he told Agência Lusa in London, where he held a session to publicize the Program in conjunction with the Consulate General at the Portuguese Embassy in the United Kingdom.

The official expressed “hope that there will be an understanding” between the Portuguese Government and regional governments on this matter so that programs can be created with the same type of support and conditions that attract Portuguese emigrants to the archipelagos.

The Return Program aims to promote and support the return to Portugal of emigrants who have left Portugal at least three years ago, as well as their descendants and other family members.

The scheme offers a more favourable tax regime for those returning, financial support and a line of credit to help with business investment and the creation of new businesses.

However, currently they only benefit people who settle in mainland Portugal, as the Government understands that active employment and professional training policies are competences of the autonomous regions.

The Executive increased the resources for Social Security in the Azores and Madeira from regional governments in the 2023 State Budget so that they can create similar programs, but politicians and island leaders complain of discrimination.

The Program director, José Albano, admitted during the session in London that the impasse is “uncomfortable”, and that he has so far avoided visiting the United States and Canada because “it is difficult to defend the difference in treatment before Madeirans and Azoreans”.

According to those responsible for the Program, since 2020, 9,098 applications have been received, covering 20,326 people.

The majority of candidates were residents of Switzerland (2,014), France (1,695) and the United Kingdom (1,489), and 46% of these chose to settle in the north of Portugal and 28% in the Lisbon region.

In terms of profile, 44% of candidates are aged between 35 and 44 and 31% are between 25 and 34. Workers with higher education degrees represent 37% of the total, while 31% have qualifications below secondary education.