The application process for Portuguese emigrants looking for support in returning to Portugal to live and work has officially begun.
As of 22 July, applications can now be made online for any Portuguese citizen who left the country before the end of December 2015 and is looking to return in 2019 or 2020.
The measures were set out during a press conference by the Secretary of State for Employment, Miguel Cabrita and the Secretary of State for Communities, José Luís Carneiro.
“On the one hand there is a necessity in the country, while on the other hand there is a question of justice,” said Cabrita who added that many regions of Portugal have difficulties with recruitment.
For José Luís Carneiro the programme is also hoped to help in the rebalancing of the demographics within the country that was affected during the “years of crisis” within Portugal, especially relating to younger, educated citizens who left the country in search of work.
According to the government, this is a “strategic” programme which intends to reinforce “the attractiveness” of the country for workers while also supporting companies in Portugal by “eliminating recruitment needs through the creation of new incentives to reduce the cost of returning workers”.
The new programme is available to workers who left the country up until 31 December, 2015 who take up employment between 1 January, 2019 and 31 December, 2020 in Portugal . As long as these workers meet specific conditions, then they will be entitled to financial support of up to six times the Social Support Index (AIS) with a total of €6,536 available.
Alongside the announcement of the incentives for returning workers to Portugal , Miguel Cabrita also announced the success of a portal designed for Portuguese citizens looking for work in Portugal before returning on a more permanent basis.
Cabrita stated that the portal already had around 1,700 people from 72 different countries registered on the site. He added that Portuguese consulates across the globe had already been receiving requests for information about the new returning citizens programme with the highest number of requests coming from Portuguese citizens living in Macao, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, and Belgium.
While the Portuguese government works to encourage workers to come home, the latest statistics from the UK have shown that the number of Portuguese nationals who have requested resident status in the United Kingdom has been “very significant” since the announcement of Brexit.
Between August 2018 and March 2019, around 18,100 Portuguese citizens submitted their application for settled status, with the months of April (34,300) and May (16,800) being the months with the highest number of citizens requesting resident status. Last month, there were 11,700 Portuguese citizens making the same request to the British authorities.
Carneiro said that it was very significant that the Portuguese nationals who are in the United Kingdom are adhering so positively to the appeal from the British authorities, but also by the Portuguese consular and diplomatic authorities, to seek their settled status in the UK.
He added that, however, there are no conditions to state how many citizens will benefit from the granting of the permanent or temporary settled status.
Portugal is currently the fourth country whose citizens living in the United Kingdom most requested the status, behind Poland, Romania and Italy, he said.
The British home secretary, Sajid Javid, said that he was satisfied with progress in the settlement system for EU, Switzerland, Norway and Lichtenstein citizens, opened as part of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal process of from the EU.
Settled status in the UK is compulsory after Brexit and guarantees access to the labour market and public services, such as education, health and social services.
The status is granted to those with five consecutive years living in the UK, while those who have been in the UK for less than five years will have a pre-settled status until they have completed the required time.