One of the plans of the government is to make changes to establish a “very clear” separation between its policing and administrative functions in the documentation of immigrants.

“Without prejudice to a determined action in combating human trafficking networks or in the prevention of terrorism, we must reconfigure the way in which public services deal with the phenomenon, adopting a more humanistic and less bureaucratic approach, in line with the with the aim of regular and orderly attraction of labour for the performance of functions in different sectors of activity,” the programme states. “To this end, the Government will establish a very clear organic separation between the police functions and the administrative functions relating to the authorisation and documentation of immigrants.”

Acknowledging that Portugal needs the “contribution of immigration” for its economic and demographic development, the programme of this, Portugal’s 22nd government since the establishment of democracy following the 1974 Revolution, includes several measures to attract foreigners to the country and simplify procedures. It aims to create “channels of migration” from countries of origin and ensure that immigrants “do not become undocumented or on the margins of the system”.

To that end, it wants to expedite and simplify entry procedures, eliminate the existing quota regime, bring forward a short-term temporary residence permit that allows the legal entry into Portugal of immigrants with the aim of looking for jobs, promote and modernise social security conventions, and simplify and streamline the mechanisms for regularising residential status, as well as implementing programmes for the regularisation of foreign nationals, in particular by working closely with the school community and deepening the existing SEF ‘em Movimento’ (in Movement) programme.

The government also announced that it wants to review the scheme for fast-tracking residence permits for big investors, commonly known as ‘golden visas’, which “is to be directed preferentially to low-density regions, to investment in job creation and to urban renewal and cultural heritage.”

Over the next four years, the government also aims to study “the implementation of a foreign citizen’s card similar to the citizen’s card [used by Portuguese nationals], dispensing with duplication in the presentation of documents issued by public entities.”

According to the government’s programme, a mobile service is to be created offering information and the regularisation of immigrants in the Lisbon metropolitan area and in parts of the country with high numbers of foreign workers, while procedures for renewing residence permits is to be “simplified and shortened”.

In terms of immigration, the government also wants to create an area of free movement and settlement among countries in the Community of Portuguese-Language Countries (CPLP) and launch programmes to promote the hiring of qualified staff and entrepreneurs in the fields of technology and high added value, as well as to foster programmes to support foreign students and researchers at Portuguese higher education institutions, particularly in the country’s interior.

The programme, approved last Saturday in cabinet, is similar in many ways to the governing Socialist Party’s programme, but does not follow the traditional thematic organisation by ministries that characterised programmes issued by previous governments.