|Name in English||Number of staff||Ministry responsible||Is there any political interference possible by the responsible Minister with the decision making in individual cases by the first instance authority?|
|Immigration and Borders Service (SEF), Asylum and Refugees Department (GAR)||27||Ministry of Home Affairs||
In accordance with the Asylum Act and the internal regulation of the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF), the responsibility for examining applications for international protection and drafting first instance decisions lies with the Asylum and Refugees Department of SEF (SEF-GAR), while decisions granting, refusing (except in accelerated and admissibility procedures), ceasing, and withdrawing international protection are formally adopted by the Ministry of Home Affairs. In practice, the latter adopts such decisions based on the assessment and recommendations of the determining authority, which thus remains the main entity responsible for the examination of asylum claims.
SEF-GAR is the specialised determining authority in the field of asylum whose competences are restricted to the following asylum-related tasks: (i) to organise and process asylum applications; (ii) to organise and process subsidiary protection applications; (iii) to organise and process Dublin procedures and, where necessary, to issue laissez passer; (iv) to issue reasoned opinions on submissions for refugee resettlement; (v) to issue reasoned opinions on applications for the renewal of refugee travel documents presented before the Portuguese Consulates; (vi) to issue refugee identity cards and travel documents as well as residence permits provided for in the Asylum Act, and to renew and extend the validity of such documents; (vii) to act as contact point of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO); and (viii) to provide for the strategic planning of EASO-related activities.
SEF-GAR is composed of 27 officials, of which (i) 14 caseworkers are responsible for the examination of applications for international protection under all the applicable procedures (except the Dublin procedure), including 2 officials responsible for revising files and proposals and one official responsible for the final decision, (ii) 2 caseworkers for Dublin procedures; and (iii) 11 administrative support officers. According to SEF, caseworkers conduct interviews, COI research, case analysis, and draft decision proposals. Such decisions are revised by supervisors who also investigate suspicions of fraud (cancellation procedures) and draft and supervise the implementation of procedural and eligibility guidelines. Administrative officers ensure the registration of applications and the screening/referral of cases.
According to the information provided by SEF, quality is ensured through the following mechanisms: (i) the supervisors review each report drafted by the caseworkers; (ii) case law is constantly taken into account; (iii) caseworkers receive regular EASO training.
 Article 29(1) Asylum Act; Article 17 Decree-Law 252/2000.
 Article 17(1) Decree-Law 252/2000.