Portugal Facilitates Visa Access for Lusophone Africans within Schengen Area

Soukaina Sghir
Soukaina Sghir
3 Min Read

Migration remains a central topic in the discussions of European states, and the European Union has recently signed its “Asylum and Migration Pact.” While some countries seek to limit the influx of foreigners, Portugal is taking a different approach by encouraging immigration. Since November 2022, the country has implemented visa facilitation for populations from the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) to reside and work in Portugal.

Fernando Furtado, originally from Cape Verde, arrived in Portugal in the late 1980s in search of work in the construction sector. He witnessed the streamlined process for newcomers with a touch of envy, stating, “I have a colleague, a construction worker like me. He’s been here for 4 or 5 months, and he was legalized immediately. Upon arrival, he got his papers, employment contract, and a two-year visa. Two days after his arrival, he was already working.”

Reportedly, Portugal has already issued 140,000 such residence permits. Ana Gomes, a Portuguese diplomat and politician, explains, “The priority for the Portuguese was to legalize the situation of many workers who are in Portugal irregularly. It is also, of course, in the interest of certain sectors in Portugal that genuinely need labor, such as agriculture and construction.”

However, the European Commission views this move as an infringement, opening an infringement procedure against Portugal. The Commission argues that this residence permit contradicts the uniform model of the Schengen Area and calls on Portugal to address these shortcomings.

These migrants come from Brazil, as well as Lusophone African countries such as Angola or Mozambique. In Sao Tome and Principe, the United Nations Development Programme studied this phenomenon with nearly 20,000 applicants. Visa applications to Portugal have doubled since the implementation of this facilitation.

Economist Luca Monge Roffarello, who conducted the study, notes, “This represents 8 to 9% of the population, which is significant. That’s why, at the UNDP, we immediately looked into this issue. We conducted a preliminary assessment, but we also want to examine this issue systematically because it may pose problems from a development perspective. For example, we are very concerned about brain drain and the impact it can have on health, education, or the private sector. On the other hand, it can also create opportunities with funds sent by the diaspora or closer skill exchanges with successful diaspora members.”

In conclusion, while Portugal’s initiative aims to address labor needs and promote cultural ties within the CPLP, it faces challenges at the European level due to concerns about the Schengen Area’s uniformity. The ongoing discussions and the European Commission’s scrutiny highlight the complex intersection of national policies and regional agreements in managing migration.


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