Whether there was a programme during 2000 and 2001 that allowed Ukrainians to work in Portugal as domestic workers [UKR42460.E]

The Research Directorate was unable to find a work programme that concerned Ukrainian labour migration to Portugal before February 2003 among the sources consulted. As the following description indicates, these programmes did exist and Portugal introduced legislation concerning sector-specific labour migration:

In the period 1999-2000, the immigration issue has gained prominence [in Portugal] due to several factors, including concerns expressed by employers about the shortage of domestic labor, the changing characteristics of the immigrant population, and the noticeable presence of many undocumented workers smuggled into the country by trafficking networks.
...[L]egislative changes introduced a new element in foreign worker recruitment-a mandatory annual government report estimating the number of foreign workers needed in various occupations that year. Such changes in policy were rounded out with the tightening of bilateral ties where needed to streamline migration flows, such as the signing of immigration agreements with Bulgaria and Romania (MPI Dec. 2002).

While several reports indicate that Portuguese businesses were interested in contracting construction labourers from Eastern European states such as Ukraine (MNS July 2002, 12; ibid. Feb. 2002, 7; ibid. Aug. 2000, 4), the Research Directorate did not find similar reports concerning domestic labourers among the sources consulted. In February 2003, Ukraine and Portugal signed an agreement concerning temporary labour migration to Portugal (Embassy of Ukraine in Washington 13 Feb. 2003; The Day 25 Feb. 2003; ibid. 18 Feb. 2003). According to the arrangement, work visas are valid for the duration of the employment contract, but cannot exceed one year (Glavred.info 21 Nov. 2003). Since March 2003, migrants are required to obtain a valid visa before arriving in Portugal (MNS Mar. 2003, 5). In Portugal, Ukrainian nationals with work visas would be considered seasonal workers (Migration News Apr. 2003; The Day 25 Feb. 2003) and have access to Portuguese social services (ibid. 18 Feb. 2003).

Prior to signing the bilateral agreement with Ukraine, Portugal amended the Aliens Act in 2001 to regularize and legalize the status of irregular migrant workers in Portugal (MNS Feb. 2001, 7; MPI 2002). In so doing, the regularization programme entitled any person holding a formal employment offer to a one-year residency permit (called "'permanence permits,'" by one source [MPI 2002]) that were renewable for up to 5 years (MNS Feb. 2001, 7). Between 22 January 2001 (MNS Feb. 2001, 7) and 30 November 2001 (ibid. July 2002, 12), Portugal issued 123,700 temporary permits, including 44,161 to Ukrainian nationals (MPI Dec. 2002, Table 2).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


The Day [Kiev]. 25 February 2003. No. 7. Vasyl Zubach. "28th Region: Ukrainians in Portugal." http://www.day.kiev.ua/DIGEST/2003/07/den-pln/dp1.htm [Accessed 23 Mar. 2004]

_____. 18 February 2003. No. 6. "Ukrainian Workers in Portugal Legalized." http://www.day.kiev.ua/DIGEST/2003/06/den-ukr/du6.htm [Accessed 23 Mar. 2004]

Embassy of Ukraine in Washington. 13 February 2003. "Adoption of Ukrainian-NATO Action Plan Clears Way for Ukraine to Draw Closer to NATO, Says Portuguese Foreign Minister." (UKRINFORM News) http://www.ukraineinfo.us/news/news-0302/030213-14.html [Accessed 23 Mar. 2004]

Glavred.info. 21 November 2003. "Parliament Ratifies Ukrainian-Portuguese Labor Force Agreement." http://www.glavred.info/eng/?news=92885402 [Accessed 23 Mar. 2004]

Migration News [Davis, CA]. April 2003. Vol. 10, No. 1. "Spain, Portugal." http://migration.ucdavis.edu/mn/more.php?id=52_0_4_0 [Accessed 23 Mar. 2004]

Migration News Sheet [Brussels]. March 2003. "Portugal: New Immigration Law Will Soon Come Into Force."

_____. July 2002. "Portugal: Migrants Entering the Country Illegally Will No Longer Have the Chance to Legalise Their Stay."

_____. February 2002. "Portugal: Some 150,000 Irregular Migrants Receive a Residence Permit in a Procedure that is Officially Not an Amnesty."

_____. February 2001. "Portugal: New Aliens Act Allows Irregular Migrants with a Job to Legalise Their Stay."

_____. August 2000. "Portugal: New Aliens Bill is Approved - Construction Firms Wants Manpower from Eastern Europe."

Migration Policy Institute (MPI). December 2002. Jorge Malheiros. "Portugal Seeks Balance of Emigration, Immigration." http://www.migrationinformation.org/Profiles/print.cfm?ID=77? [Accessed 24 Mar. 2004]

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites, including: Council of Europe, Dialog, European Commission against Racism and Intolerance, European Council Refugees and Exiles, European Union, Forum [Kiev], Portuguese High Commissioner for Immigration and Ethnic Minorities (ACIME)

Associated documents