Short overview of the reception system

Portugal

Country Report: Short overview of the reception system Last updated: 21/05/21

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The primary responsibility for the provision of material reception conditions lies with the Ministry of Home Affairs.[1] However, the responsibility for reception lies with the Ministry of Employment, Solidarity, and Social Security for asylum seekers who pass the admissibility procedure and are in the regular procedure.[2] The competent authorities can cooperate with other public entities and/or private non-profit organisations in the framework of a MoU to ensure the provision of such services.[3] In practice, different entities provide reception conditions depending on the type and stage of the procedure and/or the profile of the applicant:

  • The Institute for Social Security (ISS) offers material receptions conditions to asylum seekers in the regular procedure;
  • Santa Casa da Misericórdia de Lisboa (SCML) assists asylum seekers who have submitted an appeal against a Dublin decision or a first instance decision (with the exception of a first instance decision in the regular procedure) as well as certain categories of asylum seekers in the regular procedure;
  • The Portuguese Refugee Council (CPR) provides reception services to asylum seekers in the admissibility (including Dublin) and accelerated procedures on the national territory. As regards unaccompanied children, CPR also provides for material reception conditions in the regular procedure and at appeal stage in accordance with the relevant protective measures.
  • The Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) retains responsibility for material reception conditions in border procedures and procedures in detention following a removal order.[4]

Asylum seekers who lack resources[5] are entitled to support from the moment they apply for asylum,[6] and until a final decision is reached on their asylum application,[7] without prejudice to the suspensive effect of appeals[8] and the provision of material reception conditions beyond the final rejection in case of ongoing need for support on the basis of an individual assessment of the applicant’s social and financial circumstances.[9]

In practice, the majority of spontaneous asylum applicants are systematically referred by SEF and benefit from the provision of material reception conditions by CPR in the framework of admissibility and accelerated procedures on the territory.

In the current reception system, adults, and families with children are accommodated at CPR’s Refugee Reception Centre (CAR) or in private accommodation provided by CPR (apartments and rooms in the private market or hostels) during admissibility (including Dublin) and accelerated procedures on the territory. In the case of unaccompanied children, CPR’s Refugee Children Reception Centre (CACR) offers appropriate housing and reception conditions during the regular procedure and at appeal stage.

Asylum seekers supported by ISS are mostly provided with private housing (rented flats/houses and rooms) without prejudice to accommodation provided by relatives in Portugal and collective accommodation such as hotels or non-dedicated reception centres e.g., emergency shelters, nursing homes, etc. In previous years, the provision of housing by SCML consisted mostly of accommodation in private rooms in the Lisbon area. Within the context of the coronavirus pandemic, and considering the accommodation needs, SCML adopted a new strategy according to which hostels are also used to accommodate asylum seekers.[10]

CPR ensures accommodation until ISS or SCML take over and asylum seekers only leave its facilities when alternative accommodation is secured.

 

[1] This includes admissibility procedures (including Dublin procedures); accelerated procedures, border procedures, subsequent applications and applications following a removal decision: Article 61(1) Asylum Act.

[2] Article 61(2) Asylum Act.

[3] Article 61(1) and (2) in fine Asylum Act.

[4]  Article 61(1) Asylum Act.

[5] Articles 51(1) and 56(1) Asylum Act.

[6]  Articles 51(1), 56(1) and 2(1)(ae) Asylum Act.

[7] Article 60(1) Asylum Act.

[8] Articles 60(1) in fine and 30(1) Asylum Act.

[9] Article 60(2) Asylum Act.

[10] This change of practice was accompanied by the creation of a team dedicated to the provision of support to asylum seekers.

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