Competence for taking decisions on the cessation of international protection lies with the Ministry of Home Affairs on the basis of a proposal put forward by the national director of SEF. The representative of UNHCR or CPR shall be informed of the declaration of the loss of the right to international protection.
The Asylum Act establishes the grounds for cessation of international protection.
Regarding refugee status, the right to asylum ceases when the foreign national or stateless person:
- Decides to voluntarily accept protection of the country of his/her nationality;
- Voluntarily reacquires his/her nationality after having lost it;
- Acquires a new nationality and enjoys the protection of the country of the newly acquired nationality;
- Returns voluntarily to the country he/she left or outside which he/she had remained for fear of persecution;
- Cannot continue to refuse the protection of the country of nationality or habitual residence, since the circumstances due to which he/she was recognised as a refugee no longer exist; or
- Expressly renounces to the right to asylum.
Regarding subsidiary protection, the right ceases when the circumstances resulting in said protection no longer exist or have changed to such an extent that the protection is no longer necessary.
The grounds relating to a change in circumstances justifying the cessation of refugee status or subsidiary protection can only be applied if SEF concludes that the change in circumstances in the country of origin or habitual residence is significant and durable to exclude a well-founded fear of persecution or a risk of serious harm. Furthermore, this cessation ground is without prejudice to the principle of non-refoulement, and is not applicable to refugees who are able to invoke imperative reasons related to prior persecution to refuse to avail themselves of the protection of the country of their nationality or habitual residence. The latter safeguard is only explicitly provided in the Asylum Act for refugees, failing to adequately transpose Article 16(3) of the Qualification Directive.
SEF is required to notify the beneficiary of protection of the intended cessation in order to allow him/her to exercise the right to an adversarial hearing in writing within 8 days. A decision on cessation is subject to a judicial appeal with suspensive effect. In the absence of specific provisions, it should be understood that beneficiaries of international protection are entitled to apply for free legal aid at appeal stage under the same conditions as nationals as legal aid is an integral part of the social security system (see Regular Procedure).
Finally, the cessation of international protection results in the applicability of the Immigration Act to former beneficiaries, according to which an individual whose refugee status has ceased is entitled to a temporary residence permit without the need to present a residence visa, even though other requirements such as a travel document, accommodation, and income still apply.
Cessation of subsidiary protection has become increasingly relevant in recent years. According to the information provided by SEF, in 2021, cessation of refugee status also occurred (while extremely rare). CPR was not aware of prior cessation decisions concerning refugee status.
According to statistics provided by SEF, in 2016 there were 14 cessations of the subsidiary protection status of beneficiaries from Guinea. No cessation decisions were adopted in 2017 and 2018. In 2019, a total of 98 decisions ceasing subsidiary protection were adopted, of which 75 concerned beneficiaries from Ukraine. In 2020, 262 decisions ceasing subsidiary protection were adopted (of which 176 concerned beneficiaries from Ukraine, 25 beneficiaries from Guinea, and 20 beneficiaries from Pakistan). In 2021, a total of 36 cessation of subsidiary protection decisions were adopted by the national authorities, mostly concerning Ukrainian citizens (13).
In the framework of the legal assistance provided to some of those concerned in 2016, CPR identified several shortcomings in the cessation proceedings including the lack of renewal of the residence permits while the cessation process was pending and the poor quality of the assessment conducted into the change in circumstances in the country of nationality. Indeed, the assessments conducted did not take into consideration the specific/individual circumstances of each person concerned as the same information was used for all persons meaning that it lacked an actual assessment of whether there was a significant and durable change in circumstances for each individual. Similar shortcomings were observed in 2019, in particular regarding Ukrainian subsidiary protection status holders, and overall, in 2020 and 2021.
The Statistical Report of Asylum 2021 (covering 2020) bears no reference to cessation procedures despite the relevance of the issue.
While CPR is aware that some cessation decisions have been appealed, jurisprudence on cessation was not available at the time of writing.
 Article 43(1) Asylum Act.
 Article 43(3) Asylum Act.
 Article 41 (1)-(4) Asylum Act.
 Article 41(1) Asylum Act.
 Article 41(1) (a) Asylum Act.
 Article 41(1) (b) Asylum Act.
 Article 41(1) (c) Asylum Act.
 Article 41(1) (d) Asylum Act.
 Article 41(1) (e) and (f) Asylum Act.
 Article 41(1) (g) Asylum Act.
 Article 41(2) Asylum Act.
 Article 41(3) Asylum Act.
 Article 47 Asylum Act.
 Article 41(4) Asylum Act.
 Article 41(6) Asylum Act.
 Article 44 Asylum Act.
 Article 72 Asylum Act.
 Article 42(2) Asylum Act.
 Article 122(1)(f) Immigration Act.
 Observatory for Migration, Entrada, Acolhimento e Integração de Requerentes e Beneficiários de Protecção Internacional em Portugal – Relatório Estatístico do Asilo 2020, May 2020, available in Portuguese at: https://bit.ly/2MGYtB9.