For hundreds of immigrants living and working in Portugal, getting a Portuguese residency card for the first time or renewing an existing one has become almost impossible, especially in the past year. Immigrants have been complaining daily about not being able to renew their residency cards and, in some cases, about not even being able to get in touch with or schedule an appointment with AIMA. This demonstration follows a previous one which took place in Portimão on the 4 March, for the same reasons, where “no action or positive message was received”.

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“We must object once more due to the length of time it is taking us to obtain or renew a residency card; we have been waiting for six, seven months, even longer, and nothing has changed”, Abhi Kumar Sharma, one of the migrants in charge of the demonstration, has shared. According to Abhi Sharma, most immigrants did renew their card at the beginning of December with the Institute of Registries and Notary (IRN), however only about 1 percent of the people have received their residence card so far. "It's a vicious circle with no way out. If we try to contact AIMA, they tell us to contact IRN, and if we try to call IRN, they tell us we should call AIMA."

Many migrants are losing their jobs as a result of this situation, which leaves them with insufficient funds to subsist and increases their stress levels and risk of developing additional psychological issues. In addition to the direct repercussions of not having a resident permit, the migrants cannot leave Portugal without renewing their residency card, because if they do so, they will not be allowed to return. “Some people have lost loved ones, and they are not even able to go back home to be with their families at these harsh times”, Abhi Sharma revealed.

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After studying Journalism for five years in the UK and Malta, Sara Durães moved back to Portugal to pursue her passion for writing and connecting with people. A ‘wanderluster’, Sara loves the beach, long walks, and sports. 

Sara J. Durães