End of Manifestation of Interest in Portugal

3 de June, 2024

End of Manifestation of Interest in Portugal

The Expression of Interest is no longer an option for immigrants entering Portugal as tourists. Now, regularization will only be possible through a previous work contract.
Posto de Controle migratório, estrangeiro entrega passaporte a policia para fazer depois a manifestação de interesse em residir em Portugal
Reading: 6 min

The manifestation of interest in Portugal is no longer a possible route for immigrants entering as tourists. The Portuguese government announced that, from now on, the regularization of an illegal immigrant will only be possible through a prior employment contract. The measure was urgently approved by President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa on June 3, 2024.

The manifestation of interest (MI) was a procedure frequently used by foreign citizens who wished to obtain a residence permit in the country. The process was commonly applied by those who were already in Portugal and wished to regularize their immigration status. In other words, people who arrived in the country as tourists, without a Residence Visa, but decided to stay and live in Portugal.

With the increase in the number of immigrants living illegally and also due to the inability of government bodies to regularize the situation of so many, with thousands of pending applications, the authorities recognized the need to review this immigration policy.

The revocation of the Expression of Interest, under a decree-law, eliminated the possibility of regularization through this procedure for those who arrive with a tourist visa, as a direct response to this concern.

Continue reading to find out how to legally reside in Portugal. As we frequently emphasize, avoid risky adventures. Plan your migration legally and speak with our consultants to live peacefully in Portugal.

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What is the Manifestation of Interest?

The Expression of Interest (EI) was a measure implemented in 2017. It allowed the legalization of immigrants who could prove at least 12 months of social security contributions. This offered an opportunity for regularization to those who were living in the country irregularly but working, even without an employment contract, and only issuing receipts.

Initially, the application was made to SEF (Foreigners and Borders Service) and, from October 2023, through AIMA (Agency for Integration, Migrations, and Asylum).

Is the Manifestation of Interest going to end?

Yes, it is coming to an end. This marks the end of regularization for those entering the country as tourists. The repeal of the MI took effect on June 4, 2024.

According to Minister António Leitão Amaro, Portugal needs “better-regulated immigration,” and there will be “rule adjustments,” balancing “a policy of attracting immigrants especially focused on the qualified” and “an improvement in the entire reception and integration process to be more humane, faster, and more effective.”

Why did the Manifestation of Interest end in Portugal?

The possibility of making an Manifestation of Interest resulted in a significant increase in immigrants without a work visa in the country, creating additional challenges for managing immigration and integrating these individuals into society.

The route was seen as a relatively accessible and straightforward way to achieve legalization, especially for those who entered Portugal illegally. Additionally, this measure created an expectation that obtaining legalization could be simplified through this mechanism, leading many to avoid the correct path through a visa.

In practice, there was a disorganized growth in the number of residence permit applications through the Expression of Interest. This caused an accumulation of pending processes at AIMA, resulting in delays in the legalization of these immigrants. As reported by Jornal Expresso, the number of pending processes has already exceeded half a million!

What changes in the legalization of immigrants in Portugal?

The new measure applies to future applications from immigrants entering Portugal from countries outside the CPLP.

As of June 4, 2024, an employment contract will be required, to be presented at the consulates of the countries of origin for the issuance of a prior visa.

I’m already in Portugal and want to stay: What is a viable alternative?

If a person enters Portugal as a tourist and wishes to stay in the country, is there any possible way? Can you apply for a visa here? This is the question many people ask. We keep saying over and over again that moving to a country is a serious matter and needs to be done with planning, otherwise it will be much more difficult to regularize the situation…!

Visa applications are ALWAYS made in the country of origin. There is no possibility of applying for a visa to live in Portugal, while in Portugal… What you can do, for the time being, is apply for a Residence Permit with visa waiver, for a student visa, for family reunification, or for a highly qualified worker (D3 Visa).

Otherwise, you have to go back to your country of origin and apply through the Portuguese Consulate/VFS.

What happens to an illegal immigrant in Portugal?

Illegal immigrants in Portugal have no access to public systems. This includes the right to receive social benefits. They can use public hospitals, but they will have to pay a private fee.

Nor will you be entitled to apply for Portuguese citizenship after five years in the country.

Finally, being an illegal immigrant in Portugal means living under the constant threat of arrest and deportation, with severe consequences such as losing everything you have achieved. This precarious situation prevents long-term planning and creates an uncertain future.

Illegal immigrants who get a work contract: Can they stay?

If you’re here illegally and get a job, should you go back to your country of origin and apply for access? If they have been in Portugal for more than 180 days, do they lose the right to return?

From now on, companies will no longer be able to offer a job to a foreigner who is in Portugal without the appropriate visa (which is the Job Seeker’s Visa). If they do, they will have to return to their country of origin to apply for a visa. If you are in Portugal on a Schengen visa, you can only stay for the period granted on the visa… For citizens of countries that have visa waivers, you can stay for 90 days and respect the rule that you can stay for 90 days every 180 days… However, both Schengen visa holders and those who have visa waivers CANNOT WORK.

Working but haven’t yet made an expression of interest?

If you entered Portugal as a tourist, started working but haven’t applied for an MI, can you still do so? Do people who already have a contract with a company or issue receipts lose their right? What will happen to those who haven’t made 12 months of contributions?

Anyone who hasn’t filed an Expression of Interest by YESTERDAY is no longer entitled to do so. If you are working for a company or issue receipts but haven’t filed the MI, you will need to return to your country of origin in order to apply for the appropriate visa for your specific case (D1 visa for those who have an employment contract or promise of employment contract; D2 for those who have a company or issue green receipts in Portugal; Work-seeking visa for those who are not yet working. All other requirements for each visa must be met.

There is also the possibility of issuing a Residence Permit without a visa (without having to leave Portugal) in the case of students, family reunification or highly qualified professionals. There are many more possibilities. Make an appointment with our specialists. Let Atlantic Bridge help you with that!

What’s different for immigrants from CPLP? Will Brazilians have it any easier?

The CPLP (The Community of Portuguese Language Countries) rules that apply to visas still apply. The only thing that can no longer be done is to come to Portugal taking advantage of the ease of the language and the visa waiver (which only allows tourism) and stay to work.

Hiring for AIMA

The government also announced the hiring of 45 visa analysts to strengthen the consulates, in addition to implementing a mission structure with additional resources to respond to the more than 400,000 pending regularization applications. More staff will be hired for AIMA, former SEF inspectors, and other temporary specialists. The need to restructure and reinforce AIMA with human and technological resources was highlighted. A pilot project with performance awards will be implemented to increase productivity.

We will provide more information on Manifestation of Interest as updates are released.

Silvia Resende


Silvia Resende

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