“The current issue we are discussing is whether the Portuguese will get Macao Resident Identity Cards immediately after arriving in Macau and whether, after seven years of residence, they will obtain a Permanent Resident Identity Card,” Ho said, referring to ongoing talks between Portuguese and SAR officials.
He also acknowledged that Macao and Portugal “look at this issue from a different point of view.”
While Macao’s immigration laws did contain special provisions for Portuguese citizens up until recently, they are not mentioned in a new law on talent recruitment that came into effect in July.
Ho said that this revision “does not affect applications for work or residence visas by Portuguese people.”
In recent months, however, Macao’s authorities have reportedly only granted Macao Resident Identity Cards – known as BIRs after the initials of their Portuguese name, Bilhetes de Identidade de Residente – to Portuguese citizens with close relatives in the city or to those with prior connections to Macao.
A Macao-based lawyer from the firm JNV-Advogados e Notários told local media that the new scheme meant Portuguese citizens must compete “on an equal footing with citizens of any other nationality.”
In a meeting with the Chief Executive last week, the president of the Macau Public Service Workers’ Association, José Pereira Coutinho, reportedly requested that the prior system be continued – “thus contributing to the development and economic progress [of the territory].”
Case de Portugal’s president, Amélia António, told Tribuna that restricting Portuguese citizens’ ability to live and work in Macao was bad for the SAR.
“How can we say that Macau is a platform for Portuguese-speaking countries, but we squeeze the universe of Portuguese speakers in Macau?” she said.