Portuguese Nationality – Why the delay and how to obtain it faster?

Portugal, a country of emigrants 

There have been many migratory waves of the Portuguese from the 15th century up to today. 

Recently, the UN and other entities estimated that there are over two million emigrants, meaning that more than 25% of Portuguese born in Portugal live outside the country. 

In addition, there’s a vast community of Portuguese from the diaspora, including spouses, children, and grandchildren of those who migrated over the centuries, whose numbers are practically impossible to ascertain, but estimated to be over six million. 

 

Immigrants in Portugal 

The interest in Portugal and in obtaining Portuguese nationality has also grown among citizens with less immediate connections. 

Portuguese nationality is sought after because the Portuguese passport ranks as one of the “strongest” and Portuguese law allows the citizen who acquires it to maintain their original nationality. 

Many choose to live in Portugal and reunite their families here, as the country is recognized as one of the safest and most peaceful in the world, with a healthcare system ranked 12th by the WHO and an internationally recognized educational system. 

Moreover, Portuguese citizens are simultaneously European citizens, enjoying free movement to live and work in any EU country, and benefiting from the privileged relations Portugal maintains with PALOP countries worldwide. 

 

Why the delay in Nationality processes? 

The main factor cited for the delay is the exponential increase in applications. From 2010 to 2016, the average was 100,000 cases per year. From 2017 to 2020, it was about 160,000 per year. In 2021, processes exceeded 195,000. In 2022, there are no official data, but an estimated 250,000 cases. 

Additionally, the average age of employees is 59 years old, meaning many retire monthly without replacement (there hasn’t been a hiring process in 20 years!), and the technical means are inadequate: computers are over 15 years old and use very outdated operating systems. 

The combination of these factors results in the widely known delay, accumulating year after year, causing frustration among citizens and professionals – the Union of Registry and Notary Workers estimates there are about 300,000 pending processes. 

 

Online Nationality 

In February 2023, a new online platform (only for two types of processes – residency, and marriage) was tested and expanded in June to all process types. 

Starting from December 1st, 2023, lawyers must submit nationality requests online, which concerns us because the current platform is very deficient and causes some constraints for professionals (both lawyers and service providers). 

As communicated by the government, a “new platform will be fully launched later this month,” thus maintaining hope for its replacement or improvement. 

Since February 2023, around 14,700 online requests have been submitted, resulting, according to the IRN, in about ten thousand fewer in-person appointments per month at the conservatories. 

The Ministry of Justice emphasized efficiency gains, in time and environmentally. 

 

How to get it faster? 

According to what has been conveyed by the government and the Conservatory members, electronically submitted processes will be much faster than those submitted by individuals. 

This is because the lengthier steps, such as digitization and process classification, are eliminated, saving about 70% of the service’s action time. 

Note that only through a lawyer can a process be submitted online. Therefore, citizens wishing to submit alone must use other means (in person or by mail), and in this scenario, it is evident that processing nationality requests through lawyers means, from the start, achieving Portuguese nationality more quickly. 

This prerogative aligns with the established preferential treatment of lawyers who have access to specific channels in the competent bodies and maintain frequent contact with them, ensuring that the process stays within the established deadlines. 

Furthermore, processing through a lawyer has always been the safest method. Lawyers can avoid errors, anticipate possible reasons for refusal before affecting the process, provide guidance to ensure that the documentation is complete from the beginning, and by staying updated regarding legislative changes, they can adapt procedures to minimize delays as much as possible. 

So, if you want to start the process of applying for Portuguese nationality, don’t hesitate to contact our team of lawyers so that we can ensure that your process runs quickly and safely. 

Contact us for more details.

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