“In 2019, for the fourth consecutive year, there was an increase in the foreign resident population, with an increase of 22.9 percent compared to 2018, totalling 590,348 foreign citizens holding a residence permit, the highest value recorded by SEF, since its emergence in 1976”, indicates the Immigration, Borders and Asylum Report (RIFA).
According to SEF, Brazilians remain the main foreign community resident in the country, representing 25.6 percent of the total last year, the highest figure since 2012.
At the end of 2019, 151,304 Brazilians lived in Portugal, followed by Cape Verdeans (37,436), British (34,358), Romanian (31,065), Ukrainian (29,718), Chinese (27,839), Italian (25,408), French (23,125) and Angolan (22,691).
The RIFA highlights the increase in citizens from the United Kingdom and Italy, in this case due to the citizens of Italian nationality being native of Brazil.
The report found that immigrants live mainly on the coast, with 68.6 percent registered in the districts of Lisbon, Faro and Setúbal, totalling 405,089 resident citizens, while in 2018 there were 330,763.
The SEF report also reveals that the increase in new foreign residents, registering a 38.7 percent rise compared to 2018, a total of 129,155 and more than double (110.3 percent) in relation to 2017.
This security service justifies this increase with the growth of new titles issued to citizens of Brazilian nationality (37.8 percent of the total), a total of 48,796 Brazilians seeking Portugal in 2019 to join the family, work and study.
2019 also saw an increase in immigrants to work from India (4.9 percent) and Nepal (3.9 percent).
According to RIFA, in 2019 16,849 Nepalese and 17,619 Indians lived legally in Portugal.
Speaking to journalists after the presentation of the RIFA, the Minister of Internal Administration said that the report proves that Portugal is “an attractive country in which the economy, security and the way it sees migration as a regular phenomenon positively had a very significant impact”.
“Between 2015 and 2019 the number of foreigners in Portugal increased by around 200,000. This means that it was this positive migratory balance that allowed, for the first time since 2009, the Portuguese population to have grown in 2019”, said Eduardo Cabrita.
Meanwhile, Portuguese nationality requests in 2019 reached the highest number of the last five years.
More than 74,000 foreign citizens applied for Portuguese nationality in 2019, the highest value of the last five years.
The RIFA report states that 74,116 requests for the acquisition of Portuguese nationality were registered, with “a significant increase compared to the homologated period (2018) of 79.4 percent”.
The report states that SEF issued 70,529 opinions, 68,116 of which were positive and 2,413 negative.
According to the document, those who most acquired Portuguese nationality in 2019 were those from Brazil (22,928), Israel (18,433), Cape Verde (6,472), Angola (2,993), Ukraine (2,738), Guinea-Bissau (2,538) and Turkey (1,629).
“The sharp growth in requests for citizenship from citizens of Israel and Turkey, will be associated with the publication of the addition to the 2015 Portuguese Nationality Regulation, regarding the naturalisation of foreigners who are descendants of Portuguese Sephardic Jews”, the document reads.
SEF stresses that most requests for acquisition of Portuguese nationality are related to naturalisation (68.9 percent), followed by marriage and de facto union (13.3 percent) and original attribution (11 percent).
Regarding the acquisition of nationality due to marriage or de facto union, SEF points out that applications are submitted by nationals of Brazil (5,215), Venezuela (709), Angola (610), Cape Verde (599) and Ukraine (337).
The RIFA also indicates that, in these types of cases, there are a large number of foreign citizens who, not being residents of Portugal, apply for nationality at the Portuguese Embassies and Consulates in the area of residence.
In this area, SEF issued 9,270 opinions, 9,199 of which were positive and 71 negative.