Changes in Portuguese Migration Program Beneficial to Foreign Investors

In many countries, immigration requirements are part and parcel of government investments in crafting solid and attractive policies for immigrants, especially foreign investors from around the world.

In Portugal, for example, the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) played a fundamental role in the administration and supervision of the entries and stays of foreigners in Portugal, such as granting visas and residence permits and performing other legal formalities. In general, SEF’s many functions went far beyond bureaucratic procedures, with the agency becoming crucial to maintaining security and order in the country.

In an increasingly globalized economy, SEF’s efficient performance became even more essential over the years, promoting the integration of foreigners into Portuguese society safely and transparently. However, after recognizing the need to improve services related to immigration and to adapt to constantly evolving demands, the Portuguese government recently decided to terminate SEF, seeking a more modern and efficient approach.

The new agency replacing SEF, the Agência para a Integração, Migrações e Asilo (AIMA), promises to change the way Portugal handles immigration issues so as to facilitate foreign investment in and immigration to the country.

Out with SEF, in with AIMA

In October 2023, Portugal’s government made a significant change: the end of SEF and the creation of AIMA. This transition marks the evolution in Portuguese migration management policies and strategies, in which the new agency reflects the government’s positive and proactive vision in adapting to global changes and the specific needs of immigrants.


AIMA has begun its operations with a comprehensive approach to improving access to services. This transformation includes digitizing immigration processes, including the launch of an online portal by the end of this year for applications for residence permits. This initiative aims to simplify online requests, covering visa issuance and renewals while also tackling the backlog of 347,000 pending applications and requests Simultaneously, the agency is focused on strengthening the security and integrity of procedures, with the creation of a permanent audit team in the works to prevent fraud related to the issuance of documents.

AIMA is not limited to resolving immediate issues alone. Its plans include promoting the Portuguese language among immigrants, reflecting the agency’s comprehensive and innovative vision to enhance the integration of immigrants and asylum-seekers into Portugal.

AIMA has emerged not only as a replacement for SEF, but also as an entity that aims to innovate, simplify processes, and strengthen ties between foreigners and society. It has an enormous potential to influence the business environment for international companies and individuals, both those who have already established their investments and those who are considering opportunities in Portugal.

AIMA should represent a more transparent and efficient environment for conducting business in Portugal. It helps facilitate processes related to obtaining visas and residence permits, providing a more advantageous environment for foreign investors. It is also expected to improve services, potentially simplifying bureaucratic procedures and providing greater legal certainty for foreign investors. This change should strengthen foreigners’ confidence in the Portuguese regulatory system and consolidate Portugal’s reputation as a welcoming and investment-friendly destination.


Investor Questions

1. How can the creation of AIMA simplify and make the process for foreign investors to obtain visas and residence permits in Portugal more efficient?

The creation of the Agência para a Integração, Migrações e Asilo (AIMA) aims to simplify and reduce bureaucracy and streamline immigration and investment processes, providing investors with direct access to information and assistance. The introduction of a permanent audit team also reinforces the integrity of the system, increasing investors’ confidence. These measures reflect a more modern and efficient approach, making Portugal more attractive to foreign investors.

2. What improvements in services can existing investors expect after the transition from SEF to AIMA?

Existing investors can expect improvements such as the simplification of bureaucratic procedures, greater support, greater legal security, and ease in obtaining visas and applying for residency permits, as well as a more welcoming environment.

3. How does the transition to AIMA reinforce Portugal’s reputation as a welcoming and safe environment for foreign investments?

By simplifying processes, offering support and better services, digitizing operations for greater efficiency, demonstrating a commitment to security and integrity, and strengthening ties between foreigners and Portuguese society, AIMA reinforces the country’s reputation as a business-friendly environment.

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