Duration of detention


Country Report: Duration of detention Last updated: 30/11/20


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In accordance with the Asylum Act, an asylum seeker either at the airport or land border “who does not meet the legal requirements for entering national territory” can be detained for up to 7 days for an admissibility procedure.[1] If SEF takes a positive admissibility decision or if no decision has been taken within 7 working days, the applicant is released. If the claim is deemed inadmissible or unfounded in an accelerated procedure, the asylum seeker can challenge the rejection before the administrative courts with suspensive effect and remains detained for up to 60 days during the appeal proceedings. However, after 60 days, even if no decision has yet been taken on the appeal, SEF must release the individual from detention and provide access to the territory. The maximum detention period of 60 days is equally applicable in instances where the application is made from detention at a CIT due to a removal procedure.[2]

The information available to CPR, regarding 26 unaccompanied children, of which one was deemed adult by SEF, indicates that there were instances of detention at the border for periods ranging from 1 to 47 days (on average 7 days) in 2019. The information available to CPR regarding 52 children accompanied by adults reveals that they were detained at the border for periods ranging between 0 and 59 days (on average 12 days).[3] As such, while CPR has observed a tendency to decrease detention periods for children following the order issued in July 2018 by the Ministry of Home Affairs, this practice remains a concern in light of international standards that prohibit any immigration detention of children.[4]

Even though CPR is not aware of instances where the maximum detention duration was exceeded in the case of asylum seekers, in 2017 the Ombudsman raised concerns regarding isolated instances of detention of third-country nationals beyond the 60-day time limit with respect to CIT – UHSA; the legal status of such persons was not specified.[5] More recent information on this aspect is not available.


[1] Article 26 and 35-A(3)(a) Asylum Act.  

[2] Article 35-B(1) Asylum Act.

[3] In some instances, families were transfered from the EECIT to UHSA during the period of detention.

[4] Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families and Committee on the Rights of the Child Joint general comment No. 4 (2017) on State obligations regarding the human rights of children in the context of international migration in countries of origin, transit, destination and return, 16 November 2017, CMW/C/GC/4-CRC/C/GC/23, available at: https://bit.ly/2pIoRvd.

[5]Ombudsman, Tratamento dos cidadãos estrangeiros em situação irregular ou requerentes de asilo nos centros de instalação temporária ou espaços equiparados, September 2017, available at:  https://bit.ly/3eLMNX6, 23-24.


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