Overview of the main changes since the previous report update


Country Report: Overview of the main changes since the previous report update Last updated: 12/05/23


Portuguese Refugee Council Visit Website

The report was previously updated in May 2022.

Background information

In January 2022, the European Commission announced having opened infringement procedures to Portugal “for failing to transpose in a fully conform manner all provisions” of both the Qualification and the Reception Conditions Directives.[1] Further information was not available at the time of writing.

As previously reported, in 2020, the Government announced its intention to conduct a structural reform of SEF (asylum authority). The main piece of legislation governing this reform was approved in November 2021.[2] Its entry into force has been repeatedly postponed. In May 2022, it was postponed sine die, until the entry into force of the legal framework creating and governing the new Migrations and Asylum Agency.[3] In December 2022, the government publicly announced that the change would be in place until March 2023.[4] However, the creation of the new Agency was only approved by the Government in April 2023.[5] According to the information publicly available, minorities were also added to the mandate of the entity, and, as such, it will be called Agency for Minorities, Migration and Asylum (APMMA). It is expected to start its operations within six months.

The Asylum Act and the Immigration Act were recast in August 2022. The major change for applicants of international protection relates to the right to work (see infra).

The UN Working Group on People of African Descent published the report on its visit to Portugal in August 2022.[6] Notably, it:

  • Underlined the need for “[a] clear and effective distinction between migration policy and policies against racism […].”;[7]
  • Emphasised having “heard many credible accounts of racially motivated violence, ill-treatment, racial profiling, abuse of authority, frequent police brutality and excessive force deployed by different police entities […] towards people of African descent.”;[8]
  • Noted that people of African descent report specific difficulties in a number of areas of life – housing, employment, healthcare, and education;[9]
  • Observed that “[i]n asylum and refugee determination processes, people of African descent reported the imposition of European norms and standards for the recognition of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or intersex status, the effect of which is to erase those identities of Portuguese-speaking people from African countries.”;[10]
  • Concluded that “[d]espite the welcoming environment in Portugal for migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, people of African descent report significant bureaucratic and financial barriers to integration.”[11]

For 2022, Portugal pledged to resettle 300 persons from Turkey, Egypt and Jordan. However, according to the information available to CPR, no one was resettled during the year.


International protection

Asylum procedure

  • Applicants for international protection: In 2022, SEF registered a total of 1,992 applications for international protection (including 150 made by persons relocated to Portugal). However, CPR received 2,135 communications throughout the year. According to CPR’s observation and to the information provided by SEF, this difference may be due to the fact that SEF deemed asylum applications made by Ukrainian citizens before the activation of the Temporary Protection Directive as being “transposed” to the temporary protection regime (not counting them as applications for international protection in its yearly figures).
  • Border procedure: The border procedure was not systematically applied in 2022. According to the information provided by SEF, while a total of 694 were made at the border in 2022, only a residual number was analysed under the border procedure (due to the existence of relevant precautionary measures).
  • Legal assistance: Following prior jurisprudence of TCA South, STA ruled on a case concerning the right of the applicant for international protection to request legal aid in order to have a lawyer present during the interview.[12] Overall, the Court ruled that SEF is not bound by a duty to inform applicants of international protection that they may request legal aid for the purposes of legal representation within the administrative stage of the procedure. Furthermore, it considered that, in extremis, CPR legal officers will explain the differences between the different types of assistance to applicants and facilitate access to legal aid if the applicant so wishes.
  • Vulnerable groups: In June 2022, the Group of Experts on Action on Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), published its third report on Portugal, focusing on access to justice and effective remedies for victims, and following-up on issues specific to the national context, including the link between asylum and trafficking in human beings.[13] Asylum-related recommendations mostly focused on identification and referral. In its Concluding Observations published in July 2022, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) also highlighted the need for effective identification and referral of victims of trafficking in Portugal.[14]


Reception conditions

  • Housing: Access to adequate housing is identified as a major issue within the national context by asylum seekers, refugees and NGOs. Factors such as high prices, and contractual demands including high deposits, need of guarantors and proof of income hinder the capacity of asylum seekers and refugees to access the market directly, and that of frontline service providers to increase reception capacity. Consequently, asylum seekers and refugees often have to resort to overcrowded or sub-standard housing options when accessing the private housing market.
  • Access to the labour market: An amendment to the Asylum Act enacted in August 2022, determines that asylum seekers are entitled to the right to work from the moment of the application for international protection.


Content of international protection

  • Status and residence: In June 2022, the Government amended Decree-Law 10-A/2020,[15] determining, inter alia, that documents (including visas and residence permits) expired since its entry into force (or within the previous 15 days) were to be accepted as valid until 31 December 2022. It further determined that, after 31 December 2022, such documents would continue to be accepted providing the holder has an appointment for its renewal. Said Decree-Law was further amended in December 2022,[16] inter alia extending the validity of such documents until 31 December 2023. It further clarified that this special regime is not applicable to documents concerning temporary protection.
  • Cessation of international protection: In 2022, a total of 33 decisions of cessation of subsidiary protection were issued by the Portuguese authorities, mostly concerning nationals of Ukraine (19) and DRC (7). As in 2021, according to the information provided by SEF, in 2022, cessation of refugee status also occurred (while extremely rare).

Temporary protection

The information given hereafter constitute a short summary of the Spain Report on Temporary Protection, for further information, see Annex on Temporary Protection.

Temporary protection procedure

On 1 March 2022, the Council of Ministers adopted a Resolution establishing the criteria for granting of temporary protection for displaced people from Ukraine.[17] The Resolution was subsequently amended on 11 March in order to widen its personal scope of application (and to bring it in line with the Council decision on the same issue). In December 2022, the personal scope of temporary protection in Portugal was once again redefined, this time restricting eligibility.[18]

As such, at the time of writing, third country nationals and stateless persons who were not beneficiaries of international protection in Ukraine are only eligible if they are family members of a Ukrainian national/beneficiary of international protection in Ukraine, or if they were permanent residents in the country and cannot return to their country of origin in a safe and lasting manner.

According to the information provided by SEF, in the course of 2022, 56.599 persons requested registration for temporary protection to the Portuguese authorities. Out of these, 44.524 were Ukrainian nationals, and 12.075 third country nationals that lived in Ukraine. By the end of the year, there were 45.613 beneficiaries of temporary protection registered in the country. SEF has also reported that 1.535 statuses were cancelled during the year.

Persons whose registration for temporary protection is refused are not issued a written decision, nor informed of the right to appeal on a systematic basis. Data on such refusals is not available.

Content of temporary protection

While this is established in the law, according to CPR’s experience beneficiaries of temporary protection have not been issued the residence permit (card), at least on a systematic basis. SEF confirmed that this is the case and that the non-issuance of residence permits was determined by the Ministry of Home Affairs.




[1] European Commission, January Infringements package: key decisions, 26 January 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/3nD0sJg.

[2] Act n. 73/2021 of 12 November 2021 approving the restructure of the Portuguese system of border control, reshaping the regime of the forces and services responsible for internal security and establishing other rules for the redistribution of competences and resources of the Immigration and Borders Service, amended by Act n. 89/2021 of 16 December 2021, available at: https://bit.ly/3OitRkJ.

[3] Act n.11/2022, of 6 May 2022, availale at: https://bit.ly/3GShQQ9.

[4] See, for instance: Visão, MAI anuncia que reestruturação do SEF se vai concretizar até março de 2023, 20 December 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3CWSeAt.

[5] Comunicado do Conselho de Ministros de 6 de abril de 2023, 6 April 2023, available at: https://bit.ly/41h8G8q.

[6] Human Rights Council, Visit to Portugal – Report of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, A/HRC/51/54/Add.2, 16 August 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3CiMwIK.

[7] Par.74.

[8] Par.26.

[9] For instance, par.37, 38, 41, 53, 54, 60, 88, and 96.

[10] Par.42.

[11] Par.62.

[12] STA, Decision 02144/20.3BELSB, 25 January 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3EMaIEI.

[13] Group of Experts on Action on Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA), Evaluation Report – Portugal – Third Evaluation Round – Access to justice and effective remedies for victims of trafficking in human beings, 13 June 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3ii2V9o.

[14] CEDAW, Concluding Observations on the tenth periodic report of Portugal, CEDAW/C/PRT/CO/10, 12 July 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3vkbN1n.

[15] Decree-Law 10-A/2020 of 13 March 2020, available in Portuguese at: https://bit.ly/3iQ0lYE.

[16] Decree-Law 90/2022, of 30 December 2022.

[17] Resolution of the Council of Ministers no.29-A/2022 of 1 March 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3vRYoie

[18] Resolution of the Council of Ministers no.135/2022, of 28 December 2022, available at: https://bit.ly/3HTIWbf. The fully amended text is available at: https://bit.ly/3l9Xx9l.

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