The regulatory decree on the law on foreigners, published today in the Diário da República, changes the “regulation of the legal regime for the entry, stay, exit and removal of foreign citizens from the national territory”.

The diploma covers the new functions of AIMA, created on October 29th to replace the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) and the High Commissioner for Migrations (ACM), and the GNR and PSP, which become the institutions responsible for border control.

“Through this regulatory decree, administrative procedures are modernised and simplified with a view to ensuring that AIMA can instruct and decide processes relating to the stay of foreign citizens in the national territory in a timely manner and with compliance requirements”, reads the diploma published today.

In a statement sent to Lusa, AIMA explains that this change “constitutes a decisive step in improving services” for migrant citizens, because it enables the “modernisation and simplification of administrative procedures, allowing the instruction and decision of processes relating to the stay of foreign citizens into the national territory in a timely manner and with increased security requirements”.

With this new regulatory decree, it will be possible to “make digital services available on the AIMA Portal, for sending, receiving and paying for residence permit applications, eliminating scheduling and travel” to physical locations, “freeing employees from tasks without added value, such as the processing of payment of fees”.

Soon, AIMA promises, digital services will be made available on the portal “starting, as already announced, with requests for residence permits for family reunification”.

Family reunification processes have been one of the main reasons for complaints from legal immigrants in Portugal, who accuse the country of violating its own laws and international agreements by not granting tens of thousands of pending requests.

Furthermore, the diploma authorises digital applications for the granting and renewal of residence permits and allows these applications to also be made by employers, research centers or educational establishments in which immigrants are included.

The diploma also authorises AIMA “to conclude the necessary protocols to guarantee the proof of legal situations through direct access to various databases of public institutions, guaranteeing greater speed and information security”, such as “proof of the existence of a work, residence in the national territory, registration and contribution status regularised with social security and the tax authority, attendance at an educational establishment, volunteering or internship”.