Limited Access to Portuguese Visas: Private Companies Take Over Processing

In many countries, access to Portuguese consulates for obtaining visas has become limited. Now Portuguese visas processing is handled by the private company VFS Global, registered in Dubai. It collects personal and biometric data from applicants and forwards them to national authorities for decision-making. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs asserts that VFS Global is certified but does not clarify how data transfer and control are carried out.

The President of the “Immigrant Solidarity” association criticizes this as “shifting responsibility away from the Portuguese government,” noting poor service quality for immigrants. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Portugal has delegated to the company the ability to accept applications in certain cities to expedite service for a large number of applicants.

Despite this, immigrants do not see improvements in service. Processes take a lot of time, negatively impacting their lives. Since 2019, private companies have been processing visas due to the government’s desire to reduce personnel costs at consulates. However, this leads to delays in decision-making, especially regarding family reunification.

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