A practical guide about the government’s decision to temporarily legalise migrants and refugees during COVID-19 pandemic
Questions & answers
Order No. 3863-B / 2020, of 27 March
1 – Who is the dispatch for?
Foreign citizens who, at the date of the declaration of the State of National Emergency – 03/18/2020 – had a pending case before the Aliens and Borders Service under the Aliens Act or under the Asylum Law.
2 – Will SEF grant these foreign citizens a residence permit? Do you need to submit an application?
No. During the period in which the order is in force, SEF will not issue any residence permit. Citizens will only have to prove that they have a pending case at SEF. This test regularizes the stay in the national territory from March 27 until June 30, which can be presented in the various public services to access certain rights.
3 – Which documents prove that there is a pending process at SEF?
• Document presenting the expression of interest or supporting document issued by the SEF computer registration platforms (Articles 88, 2, 89, 2 and 90-A);
• Document proving the scheduling at SEF for submitting a request for the granting or renewal of a residence permit, or the receipt proving the presentation of said application, under the general or exceptional regime;
• Document proving the application for asylum.
4 – How do foreign citizens prove that the date of the application for the granting or renewal of the residence permit, the presentation of the expression of interest in the SEF or the date of the scheduling is prior to March 18, if the documents don’t have date?
In order to be able to access these rights, and taking into account the variety of documents presented (receipts issued by SEF in person, proof of scheduling at SEF, documents extracted from the electronic platform for registering expressions of interest under Articles 88 and 89. 2, SAPA – and the electronic platform for registering applications for the residence permit for investment regime – ARI), foreign citizens must submit documents to the public services that expressly indicate the date of submission of applications, expressions of interest or the making of appointments, and these documents must have a issue date prior to March 18, inclusive. It should be noted that, since April 6, there is a new functionality in the SAPA and ARI portals that allows foreign citizens to issue, consult and download a registration certificate, which serves as proof of the pending situation before the SEF in public and private entities.
5 – If foreign citizens don’t have the documents in their possession, will they have access to a duplicate?
In the case of submitting expressions of interest, citizens must obtain proof of their presentation on the SAPA Portal, by entering the SEF page on the Internet – which can be consulted at «https://sapa.sef.pt/an/default», with your credentials (email and password). In the case of obtaining a duplicate of receipts for granting and renewing residence permits or asylum applications, as well as proof of scheduling, citizens should contact the SEF through their SEF Contact Center, or call (to the fixed network): (+351) 808 202 653 or (to the mobile network): (+351) 808 962 690, or send an e-mail with the request to «firstname.lastname@example.org».
6 – And what about foreign citizens with expired documents? Is it also considered regular the stay in Portugal?
Your stay in Portugal is considered regular until June 30/2020, the date until which all documents and visas related to your stay in Portugal whose validity has expired since February 24 are considered valid.
7 – Are there any other documents with expired validity that are accepted by the authorities?
Yes. Among documents that expired on February 24, which will be accepted by national authorities until June 30, for due legal purposes, there are also, for example, driving licenses, certificates issued by the services of civil and criminal identification records (birth seats, marriage seats, criminal record certificate, contumacy certificate).
8 – Which rights are guaranteed to foreign citizens?
Foreign citizens who:
i) have pending processes in the SEF and can prove it;
ii) have documents expired since February 24.
Have the following rights:
• obtaining the user number, access to the National Health Service or other rights of health care access;
• access to social support benefits:
• signing of lease agreements;
• signing of employment contracts;
• opening bank accounts;
• contracting essential public services.
9 – How can foreign citizens access these rights?
For more information on the public service system access, the following pages of the respective entities on the Internet can be consulted:
• Health – «www.sns.gov.pt/entidades-de-saude»
• Social Security – «www.seg-social.pt/atendimento-por-marcacao»
• IEFP, IP – «www.apcmc.pt/legislacao / iefp-marcacao-online-de-atendimento »
10 – How can foreign citizens obtain the user number, access the National Health Service or other health care rights?
Foreign citizens covered by the dispatch must submit their request to the health units and / or the Regional Health Administration, by different means of communication: via e-mail or in person, and the remote request must be made (via e-mail) / telephone) in order to avoid attending the services in person due to the risks of contagion from Covid-19 (see Circular Letter and attached Manual Procedures).
11 – If a foreign citizen finds himself in Portugal in a irregular stay situation, because he has no pending lawsuit in the SEF before the 18th of March, is he entitled to healthcare?
Under legal terms, foreign citizens who are not holders of a residence permit and / or who don’t have other pending processes in the SEF prior to the date mentioned, ie, foreign citizens in an irregular situation, and provided that, for this purpose, they proceed to the presentation of a certificate of residence in their area of residence to certify that they have resided in the national territory for more than 90 days, they will be entitled to the provision of health care, with exemption from the payment of moderating fees, in the provision of health care in situations that endanger public health, namely:
• communicable diseases that present a danger or threat to public health (infection with SARS-Cov2 – COVID-19, tuberculosis, AIDS, for example);
• urgent and vital health care;
• care in the area of maternal and child health and reproductive health, namely access to family planning consultations, voluntary termination of pregnancy, monitoring and surveillance of women during pregnancy, childbirth and the puerperium and health care provided to newborns;
• health care for minors who are residing in Portugal;
• vaccination, according to the National Vaccination Program in force;
• citizens in a situation of social exclusion or in a situation of economic need according to the proof to be issued by the competent entities.
(Dispatch no. 25360/2001, of 16/11 and no. 7 of Information Circular no. 12 / DQS / DMD, of 07/05)
12 – If the documents proving that they have pending processes at SEF allow them to conclude employment contracts, does it mean that foreign citizens can register for employment at the Institute of Employment and Professional Training (IEFP, IP) and have access to social support benefits?
Yes. Foreign citizens from third States who have processes pending in SEF in the context of requesting qualifications that enable them to exercise subordinate professional activity, ie, who present a document of expression of interest, a request issued from the SEF platform or proof of scheduling at SEF to grant AR, are now able to apply for employment, able to claim unemployment benefits and other social support.
The referred documents start to serve as certificate that entitles them to the exercise of subordinate professional activity during the state of emergency and for the duration of the examination of the pending request that will be resumed / rescheduled later by SEF.