The Fundamental Rights of Long-Term Migrants

Report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)

The European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has just presented the report Promoting migrant integration - Strengthening EU law on long-term residence, whose Portuguese contribution was prepared by the Permanent Observatory for Justice (OPJ) of the Centre for Social Studies of the University of Coimbra (CES/UC).

The report analyses the fundamental rights of migrants who are third-country nationals and long-term residents in the European Union (EU), and the reasons for the low use of the EU status of long-term resident, despite the fact that, in most member states, it confers more rights than national long-term residence permits (in Portugal, permanent residence permits).

The following conclusions stand out from the report:
a) In 2021, around 12.2 million third-country nationals resided in the EU area with long-term residence permits, 24.3% with EU status, and 75.7% with national permits from the member states where they resided. In Portugal, only 2.8% had EU status.

b) The main difficulties identified in applying for EU status are the complexity of the procedures and the fulfilment of requirements to request this status.

c) Although the EU status and national long-term residence permits have many dimensions in common, there are differences between member states in various areas of integration and social inclusion of migrants.

d) In Portugal, migrants prefer to apply for Portuguese nationality because they believe this gives them more rights, a more secure status in the territory and easier mobility within the EU.

e) Lack of awareness, insufficient and sometimes contradictory information on the part of the authorities regarding EU status contribute to a low demand for this status, which translates into a low number of applications in Portugal.

f) In Portugal, difficulties have been reported in meeting the requirements for EU status and the permanent residence permit, particularly in meeting the income requirement.

g) Portugal's national permanent residence permit grants migrants greater equality with nationals than the EU status.

The report recommends simplifying procedures and requirements, as well as removing obstacles so that long-term EU status is more attractive, is an informed and facilitated process, and makes long-term migrants' rights to integration and inclusion in host societies effective.

The report on Portugal was produced by an OPJ/CES team composed by Conceição Gomes (coordinator), Carlos Nolasco, Ana Filipa Neves, Cristiano Gianolla, Fernando Fontes, Sofia Pinto Oliveira and João Paulo Dias.