Elena Russo is an Italian from Tuscany, from a small village near Florence. He is 33 years old and has been in Portugal for three months. They quickly obtained a residence permit, an easy process for EU citizens who represent a good portion of the 109,000 new residents in the country. She hails from Lisbon and is one of 5307 Italians who immigrated to Portugal last year, members of the community most represented in the new visas. The French and Germans follow.
“I’m doing a sort of tour of Europe. I lived in the United Kingdom, Holland, Spain, now in Portugal. I started working in a call center, but I didn’t like it and I came to this restaurant. I like contact with clients and I work in the center of Lisbon, I can see how the Portuguese live, I also have many Italian colleagues”, explains Elena Russo.
She’s a waitress at the Waldo Gatti Pizzeria in Bairro Alto, which last Friday was full despite it being a quiet night. Portuguese and foreign on the table, Italians in the kitchen and in the service. Elena will stay in Lisbon for now, she argues: “I love everything in Portugal, the food, the people, the climate, it has a great atmosphere. The people are very happy.” If I had to choose a country to stay in for a long time, it would be Portugal or Scotland. Lower wages than in Italy are no deterrent, as it says it is offset by lower cost of living.
workers and families
In 2021, the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) granted 109,000 new residence permits for a total of 771,000 foreigners in the country, according to provisional data from DN’s Access. Of these, 27,318 went to EU citizens, most of whom were from Italy (5,307), France (4,750) and Germany (3,937). In 2020, there was a large influx of Italians, but the British, who have been out of the EU since 2020, stood out more.
And, not to mention the tourists, it seems that it is the resident foreigners who dominate Lisbon nightlife.
French Colette Mathis, 31, and Abde Chebab, 42, the first from Marseille and the second from Paris, met at the first company they had come to work for and, meanwhile, left.
“I came to visit a friend and I really enjoyed it. I returned to Paris but, there wasn’t much to do, so I decided to look for work in Portugal. Life is calm, there is less aggression, There’s food, there’s landscape, there’s women. A great life,” says Clett. He has a law degree, works in Uber’s management sector and insists that foreigners living here get higher salaries than the Portuguese. Also, it is the companies that they recruit to complete the entire installation process in the country, which they say makes the process a lot easier.
He drinks a glass with Abde Chebab, who describes how to get to Portugal: “At that time, there were many reports about the country in France, which mentioned that it had a quality of life, I felt like that its atmosphere was similar to Marseille, the beach, and I decided to take a chance”. He has been working on webinars (online courses for events) since a year.
He has been here for three years, two years less than when he received a permanent residence permit. He has toured from north to south of the country. Since 2018, it has seen the arrival of many young foreigners, including many French ones. “They come for two to three years and stay big. I want to stay,” says Abde.
The 2020 Border and Asylum Immigration Report has already highlighted the “continuous increase of foreigners from EU countries”. It underlined: “They confirm the special impact of the attractiveness factors noted over the years, such as Portugal’s perception of a safe country, as well as tax benefits arising from the regime for the non-habitual resident”.
The 109,000 new residence permits granted in 2021 are mainly divided into three types of visas and there is little numerical difference between them, unlike in 2020, in which EU citizens and family members of immigrants stood out. Family reunification (29,473), immigrants coming to visit relatives come first. This includes people from EU countries, but the largest numbers are from Brazil, Angola, India, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau. This is followed by those operating from non-EU countries, Article 89 (28 544), as well as Brazil (13027), India (5685) and Nepal (1876). The third are from the European Union, Italy, France and Germany. There are 15,405 who justified entering 2021 for the study, mostly from Portuguese-speaking countries: Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Angola and So Tomé and Principe.