By Sergio Goncalves
LISBON (Reuters) – Portugal announced on Thursday it would speed up granting visas to citizens of other Portuguese-speaking countries, including Angola and Brazil, as it seeks to tackle a labour shortage.
The other countries in the Community of Portuguese language countries (CPLP) are East Timor, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Mozambique and São Tomé and Príncipe.
Immigrants from these countries have had to get a visa if they plan to stay in Portugal for more than 90 days and often have to wait many months to get visa approval.
From now on, visas to enter Portugal for citizens of any CPLP member state “must be immediately granted by the consular services, unless there is an expulsion order or a ban to enter the Schengen Area”, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ana Catarina Mendes told a news briefing.
“It (the decree) is absolutely fundamental in the organisation of regular and orderly flows of immigration…it allows us to respond to the urgent needs of human resources and helps to revitalise our economy,” she told reporters.
The Schengen Area refers to 26 European countries that have abolished requiring passports to pass their mutual borders.
Portugal would also create a new type of visa to allow any foreigner to enter the country for 120 days, extendable by another 60 days, without any quotas, Catarina Mendes said.
Portugal’s unemployment rate is at 5.7%, near a record low.
Employers’ confederations have been asking for the immigration rules to be streamlined, pointing to an economic situation close to full employment, with no workers available in key sectors such as hotels, agriculture and construction.
(Reporting by Sergio Goncalves; Editing by Susan Fenton)