The Portuguese immigration system marks a new era in migration policy. In the last quarter of 2023, a new Agency for Integration, Migration and Asylum (AIMA) replaced the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF). 

AIMA is now responsible for handling applications for residence permits from foreigners arriving in Portugal. This step aims to greatly streamline and simplify the country’s immigration and asylum services.


AIMA’s Agenda: Resolving Backlogs and Streamlining Portuguese Immigration Services


AIMA has taken over critical responsibilities from SEF. These responsibilities include managing the entry of foreigners into Portugal, issuing residence permits, and overseeing refugee and asylum matters. 

The agency has set forth an ambitious development plan. This way, it is aiming to clear a backlog of over 347,000 pending cases and revolutionize the Portuguese immigration process. 

Additionally, AIMA plans on creating additional service points. The agency’s main office is located in Lisbon. It currently has 34 branches, with expansion plans to introduce a minimum of 10 additional branches across the country.

Other key initiatives include launching a user-friendly portal, fostering language proficiency among migrants, and establishing a Multidisciplinary Center for Protection and Integration.

This significant shift also includes redistributing responsibilities among various entities. As a result, the Judiciary Police (PJ), Public Security Police (PSP), and National Republican Guard (GNR) assumed specific roles in border control and inspection. The Institute of Registry and Notaries (IRN)\ will also handle administrative tasks.


How Can Foreigners Apply for a Residence Permit Now?


As SEF ceased to exist, all foreigners must apply for a residence permit at AIMA. The agency’s website provides a list of the 34 current branches where foreigners can obtain their residence permits.

However, for the renewal of residence permits, both temporary and permanent, foreigners must apply at the Institute of Registry and Notaries (IRN). AIMA’s responsibility is limited to renewing residence permits for victims of human trafficking and for investment purposes.


Read Our Comprehensive Guide on Hiring Foreign Workers in Portugal


For Portuguese employers seeking to hire foreign workers, it’s important to note that the process remains unchanged even with AIMA assuming responsibility from SEF.

For insights into Portuguese immigration procedures, visa requirements, and compliance with regulations, please refer to our comprehensive guide. Stay informed and make the most of the streamlined processes facilitated by AIMA.

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