Online renewal of residence permits in Portugal for foreigners has been relaunched and will cover Golden Visas for the first time.
The system, which the government had already resorted to last year, aims to overcome the congestion at the in-person and telephone service desks at the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF), according to Publico newspaper.
In October, SEF registered a peak of 29 million call attempts in a 12-hour period, while the daily capacity of employees does not exceed 3,000 calls. The switchboard could not withstand the pressure and stopped working.
In 2022, thousands of immigrants, most of them Brazilians, were unable to leave Portugal and many of them were prevented from finding work or opening a bank account because their residence permits had expired.
Now, an automatic renewal functionality is available for the 21,500 visas due to expire before 31 March, according to the SEF, “with a guarantee of compliance with security rules and mitigation of the consequences that resulted from the health emergency situation” caused by the pandemic.
Applicants who can automatically renew expired residence permits are those whose biometric data have already been previously collected and whose documentation is already known by the SEF.
The government is allowing expired documents relating to staying in national territory to continue to be considered valid until 31 December 2023 and even after that date, subject to proof of scheduling for their renewal, provided that the expiry occurred from 15 December onwards.
Since the government opened this new method last summer, more than 200,000 automatic revalidations have been carried out.
There are currently 225,000 expressions of interest to reside in Portugal pending evaluation.
In mid-October, there were also 19,000 requests for renewal of residence permits for investment activity, the so-called Golden Visas, to be decided on, a situation that also led to many complaints, not least because online revalidation was not possible.