If in 2020, foreigners represented 6.4 percent of the total number of residents, in 2021 they became 6.8% (698,887 people), according to the 2022 Annual Statistical Report of the Migration Observatory.

“At the end of the decade, the country reaches unprecedented values of close to seven hundred thousand foreign residents, a number never before reached in Portugal”, reads the document.

The reasons for foreigners entering the country remain essentially associated with the study, family reunification, and retirement: in 2019 these three types of visas together represented 85.1 percent of the total number of residence visas issued at consular posts (46.6 percent for study, 14 percent for retirees and 24.5 percent for family reunification).

The trend was repeated in 2020, “when they represented 88 percent of all visas (53.6 percent for study, 12.8 percent for retired people and 21.6 percent for family reunification).

In 2021, they accounted for 82.4 percent of all residence visas issued (46.5 percent for study, 21.5 percent for retirees, and 14.4 percent for family reunification).

Positive impact

However, as the director of the Observatory, Catarina Reis Oliveira, author of the study, underlines, with Portugal in a situation of marked demographic aging, “not all immigration profiles will be able to alleviate the country’s demographic situation”, since retired foreigners “tend to reinforce the relative importance of elderly residents” and, unlike the immigrant population of working age and childbearing age, which the country has traditionally received in recent decades, “do not mitigate the demographic aging of the country”.

There are municipalities in Portugal where more than a third of the resident population is foreign, reaching 41.2 percent in Vila do Bispo, 37.1 percent in Albufeira, and 35 percent in Lagos.

“The structure of the ten numerically most representative foreign nationalities in Portugal underwent some changes in the reference years of this report, namely associated with the increase in the number of nationals from some European countries (Italy, France and the United Kingdom) and Asia (India), and the decrease of some nationalities from the PALOP [Portuguese-speaking African countries] and Eastern Europe”, reads the document.