Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure


Country Report: Differential treatment of specific nationalities in the procedure Last updated: 12/05/23


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While this is not an official practice, CPR has observed that SEF systematically deems applications lodged by Venezuelans as unfounded within accelerated procedures (notably on grounds of irrelevance),[1] and refers the cases to regularisation procedures through the humanitarian clause of the exceptional regularisation regime of the Immigration Act.[2]

According to the decisions, such a referral is due to the political, social, and humanitarian crisis in the country and its impacts in the regular functioning of institutions and public services. While further information on the implementation and outcome of such procedures is not available to CPR, this is an uncommon practice from the authorities that was only systematically applied to Venezuelans.[3]

TCA South analysed one such decision in 2020. In the case concerned, the applicant referred to the overall conditions in Venezuela (insecurity, lack of living conditions, lack of access to essential goods) and, particularly, to the lack of access to necessary medication. The Court considered that the first instance decision was contradictory. It was also concluded, inter alia, that given the publicly available information regarding the situation in Venezuela, it is notorious that the socio-economic situation is harsh, with shortages of food and medicines, and growing violence. The Court concluded that, given the applicant’s statements and the available information, the allegations were pertinent and relevant, and the application should be analysed within the regular procedure. [4]

Furthermore, the practice seems to contradict the position adopted by Portugal externally regarding persons fleeing Venezuela, notably through the pledges made in the 2019 Global Refugee Forum where the country committed ‘to ensure financial contributions for […] joint operations of the UNHCR/IOM operation in Colombia (to address the urgent needs of Venezuelan refugees) […]’ and also referred to supporting the higher education of Venezuelan refugees.[5]

While statistical data is not available, CPR has observed that persons relocated to Portugal following rescue operations in the Mediterranean Sea whose applications for international protection were rejected are also (at least at times) referred to regularisation procedures through the humanitarian clause of the exceptional regularisation regime of the Immigration Act.[6] This was due, according with at least some decisions analysed, to the commitment made by Portugal following the disembarkation.

According to CPR’s observation, and to the information provided by UNICEF, this has also happened in the case of relocated unaccompanied children and young adults whose asylum applications were rejected.

CPR has observed that access to this regime may be hampered by the lack of documents issued by the country of origin (e.g., passports). This has also been noticed by UNICEF with regard to unaccompanied children and young adults in particular.

According to the data provided by SEF, a total of 140 humanitarian protection statuses were granted in the course of 2022, all of which to Afghan nationals.




[1] Article 19(1)(e) Asylum Act.

[2] Article 123 Immigration Act. Note that this practice was confirmed in the Statistical Report of Asylum (2020): Observatory for Migration, Entrada, Acolhimento e Integração de Requerentes e Beneficiários de Protecção Internacional em Portugal – Relatório Estatístico do Asilo 2020, May 2020, p.62, available in Portuguese at: https://bit.ly/2MGYtB9.

[3] The decisions analysed do not clarify whether such procedures are triggered automatically by SEF and if residence permits on humanitarian grounds are effectively granted.

[4] TCA South, Decision 1574/19.8BELSB, 17 March 2020, unpublished. A decision from TAC Lisbon followed a similar understanding, while also pointing out, inter alia, the broader scope of subsidiary protection in the national context (that also includes situations of systematic violation of human rights and generalised and indiscriminate violation of human rights). TAC Lisbon, Decision 1371/22.9BELSB, 26 June 2022, not publicly available.

[5] Statement from Portugal at the Global Refugee Forum,17 December 2019, available at: https://bit.ly/38OHMdM

[6] Article 123 Immigration Act.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection
  • ANNEX I – Transposition of the CEAS in national legislation