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Demanding an appointment from AIMA in person?

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Posts: 116
 DXJ
Community Member
Topic starter
Joined: 3 years ago

Some interesting news came across my feed today: https://www.jn.pt/8083452063/imigrantes-vao-concentrar-se-na-sede-da-aima-em-braga-a-pedir-renovacao-do-titulo-de-residencia/ This was already from a few days ago. I always find out only after the fact.

As many of us already know, AIMA has a huge backlog of applicants for whom they have neglected to schedule required appointments. I would have thought that staging a sit-in would be futile for participants, but some may have had luck this time in Braga. Similar events have happened in Lisbon and Porto already but to no avail.

Most of the news here seems to focus on renewals, but I’m also running across more new arrivals who, like me, are still waiting to get an appointment for an initial residency permit, some pushing a year already with no appointment scheduled (this dates back to SEF pre-AIMA).

In this situation, those of us who have retained counsel have our attorneys’ offices call SEF/AIMA daily to check the schedule and book any appointments, and that has yielded nothing for anyone thus far. AIMA is somehow fully staffed, but they have been letting this slip for months, and the backlog gets worse with each passing day.

Is it worth considering other escalation paths or back channels at this point? It seems daunting, but maybe there is some hope after all. Absent that, I assume we would need some kind of sweeping reform in the process, or some amnesty for applicants who have waited this long and have no hope of getting an appointment in any reasonable time.

Aside from lacking certain SNS coverage, I am not having an emergency situation yet, but if I need to leave the country on short notice, then it may be too late at that time to ensure that I can return to Portugal without having to restart the residency application process, all because SEF/AIMA could not respond in a timely manner months ago.

Has anyone else here tried crashing a local AIMA office to book an appointment?

 

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Hon Member
(@konni)
Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 225

@dxj It would depend on the office. Some places won’t let you in past the guard without proof of an appointment.

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 DXJ
Community Member
Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 116

@Konni Indeed, I always understood it that way. Referencing the OP article at JN.pt, the main Braga office is like that, so it makes me wonder how that sit-in started.

Still, the luck that some folks had there may not pan out in the end. It’s reminiscent of others recently in Setúbal who had appointments, showed up, and were turned away for AIMA’s IT outages. Ultimately, someone just takes names and promises to reschedule, and that’s the last anyone hears from AIMA.

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Posts: 2962
Hon Member
Joined: 3 years ago

The renewals are through IRN and are scheduled on the SIGA site, Correct? We have ours due in late August. Gilda from Ei! stated last month they opened the old SEF site for renewals.  

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 DXJ
Community Member
Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 116

@jonesdn2020 Sounds right; that may work for ordinary renewals now. That does not apply to first-time permits. I believe the article was mainly about renewing special permits for CPLP migrants.

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 AK4
Community Member
(@ak4)
Joined: 3 months ago

How does one go about trying to schedule an appointment for Temporary residency permit renewal. I understood itd done through SIGA- IRN-Citizen- Renewal of residency , however the renewal of residency does not appear any more. 

Wondeering if i’m doing something wrong or ……………

 

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Hon Member
(@antonio_f)
Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 987

@ak4 You’re correct, there’s no option in SIGA/IRN to book a Residency Permit renewal…

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Hon Member
Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 2962

@antonio_f Yet the instructions on justica.gov.pt still say it is. It did exist at one time. Hoping somone  who has a reneal date no later than the end of June can check the SEF portal for possible online renewal. 

It has been mentioned that the SEF portal renewal may require no translation from Portuguese to work correctly. 

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Hon Member
(@antonio_f)
Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 987

@jonesdn2020 Yes, I also checked the justica.gov.pt instructions more than once, but took me nowhere. Maybe someone with access (password) to SEF’s Portal can check if there’s a option there (like mentioned at https://justica.gov.pt/Servicos/Renovar-Autorizacao-de-Residencia?pk_vid=2d39b3672b991e44171330022427d62c ).

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Hon Member
Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 2962

@antonio_f I still get the error that I cannot auto renew but I don’t think they open up the time allowed to more than 90 days prior. Mine doesn’t expire until Aug 31st. 

The SEF portal page does say that you can auto renew through the portal. 

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Posts: 9
 AK4
Community Member
(@ak4)
Joined: 3 months ago

So basically there is no mode to schedule an appointment for Residency renewal and no authority to get some guidance from. 

I will start praying……

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Hon Member
Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 2962

@ak4 Gilda from Ei! mentioned they can assist. Have you tried the SEF site? When is your expiration date?

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Posts: 3
Community Member
Joined: 3 months ago

Hey guys, am new here! Just wanted to contribute to this thread. As far as aima is concerned, things are not looking good.

If your portuguese is good enough, have a look at this on portal da queixa . Complaints are piling up and some real horror stories. My card is not due for renewal  soon but if things continue… it is going to be …..  

 

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 DXJ
Community Member
Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 116

Many of the online complaints look similar to the issues experienced by the CPLP demonstrators. Some expect that they will get official responses through unofficial channels, but I would not hold my breath for that.

As a practical matter, I’m curious to know what border agents (at least in Portugal) know about the AIMA backlog and how they would treat re-entrants with pending residency applications/renewals on technically expired visas, assuming they know the situation and have discretion to do the right thing accordingly. This is ultimately what matters with expats having the right to re-enter the country following excursions abroad, and what AIMA is effectively denying without cause to persons (taxpayers) who meet the requirements of legal residency.

Of course, I know the standard legal advice, but life in the rest of the world does not wait just for AIMA to get its act together. I wonder how long it takes for AIMA to end up in court with judicial mandates to issue the backlogged residency cards, with or without interviews/appointments. I believe something similar happened to SEF with a single golden visa a few years ago, but the current backlog is of a much larger scale.

 

 

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Hon Member
(@thomasribatejo)
Joined: 7 years ago

Posts: 218

@dxj Whilst a Portuguese border official is likely to be aware of the situation, and may accept things, it is unlikely that an official in another country will know; and if they do, may be unwilling or unable to take account of it.  You are not, of course, likely to get a formal statement one way or another; and in previous cases where tolerances were extended, border officials nevertheless didn’t always honour them.  So, regrettably, there’s an element of risk.

This is just one of a whole series of major backlogs – some slightly related (eg citizenship, where processes have ballooned from a few months to a few years) and some in completely different areas (eg land registry, where in seven municipalities it has been impossible to complete property transactions since the start of 2024).  There are many more.

The pending election then change of government has not helped – not for party-political reasons, but because manifesto commitments and political priorities will come first for the new goverment.  The suspicion that this government may not last the year doesn’t help.  I doubt there will be a rapid resolution, but I’d love to be proved wrong.

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 DXJ
Community Member
Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 116

@ThomasRibatejo Agreed. As more people roll the dice, we shall see how things ultimately shake out, with no expectation of consistency or certainty, and find out how much risk people accept.

The parliamentary shakeup(s) also may be another disincentive for the bureaucrats to resolve much. The forward-looking policy changes seem sweeping but likely won’t address backlogs explicitly.

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Hon Member
(@antonio_f)
Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 987

@dxj The backlog resulted from a almost “open doors” policy by the previous government, resulting in over several hundred online applications/day that were impossible to deal with, if following proper procedures, by SEF, and that became AIMA’s task, resulting in this situation (some 350 000 applications/requests to solve). AIMA said they will take 18 months to solve it. Like you, I wouldn’t hold my breath…

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 DXJ
Community Member
Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 116

@Antonio_F Yes, that seems to be an accurate assessment. Thank you for that.

The growth in the number of resident aliens in the past 1-2 years alone was relatively large with many hundreds of thousands, and those authorizations are mostly coming up for renewal now, amid new applications yet to be reviewed.

Ideally, this backlog could be resolved with an increase in staff for processing, or a change in the process to facilitate efficient disposal of applications, but that would require allocation of resources and difficult decisionmaking amid continued political turmoil, all increasing risk for the people inside the government.

Any breakthroughs would be nice, but there’s no reason to get any hopes up yet.

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Hon Member
(@thomasribatejo)
Joined: 7 years ago

Posts: 218

@antonio_f indeed, and the new government is “thinking about” what to do; wants to maintain the idea that Portugal has an open door; and wants to add to AIMA’s set of responsibilities… Maybe it’ll get further up the pile this year…

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Posts: 9
 AK4
Community Member
(@ak4)
Joined: 3 months ago

Big issue is what if one needs to travel but before one gets back the resident permit expires. 

1) I dont see the airlines allowing you to board the plane with an expired resident card in the first place 

2) would one have to get a schngen visa and continue with the renewal process of the old card or make a new application and start from the bottom Bruise  

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Hon Member
(@thomasribatejo)
Joined: 7 years ago

Posts: 218

@ak4 On your point 1, the airlines will require a valid passport, they won’t be looking at your resident’s card, as it’s not a valid form of national ID.

You are not likely to have too many issues re-entering Portugal provided you have your expired document, and ideally some proof you’ve attempted to renew it.  Countries of any other citizenship you may have should be fine.  Non-Schengen countries will follow their normal rules relating to your passport.  The issue is most likely to occur in other Schengen countries – but perhaps the strict need to travel there is limited (avoid flights with stopovers, for example).

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 DXJ
Community Member
Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 116

@ThomasRibatejo All correct points. However, people with citizenship limited to certain countries may not be able to fly to Portugal without transiting certain countries with more restrictive policies, and for those people, it’s the ideal/only way to fly. I believe this was what gave rise to the lawsuit that a GV holder had successfully brought against SEF, IIRC, because Schengen transit should have been without problem but for SEF’s inaction.

@AK4 Some countries may allow for visas strictly limited to transit/stopover (maybe USA/Canada/CPLP countries?). The trouble with applying for a new resident visa in Portugal is that it would likely reset the countdown on the clock to apply for citizenship under the new nationality law, so that could set you back if that’s one of your goals. If so, definitely seek professional counsel on a move like that.

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 AK4
Community Member
(@ak4)
Joined: 3 months ago

Posts: 9

@thomasribatejo thing is i am not applying for nationality, just renewal of residency. I have a valid passport but with an expired residency card no airline will let you board the plane. Portugal immigration is the least of the problems. for those who need to travel out of the EU , this is a complete nightmare . 

As for proof of having attempted to renew , as of today there does not seem to be any entity accepting appointments to just submit the application/ intent to renew. 

I appreciate these online forums, at least that .

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Hon Member
(@thomasribatejo)
Joined: 7 years ago

Posts: 218

@ak4 I had realised your situation in terms of residency; but at no point have I ever been asked to show a residency entitlement when boarding a plane to Portugal. I have only recently gained citizenship, before which I was a non-EU citizen who travelled regularly and widely from Portugal. I appreciate you may be coming from somewhere with more complexity.

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 AK4
Community Member
(@ak4)
Joined: 3 months ago

Posts: 9

@thomasribatejo 

i get what your saying.

Depending on a persons  nationality, as is my case, i am required to have a  schengen visa or a resident permit to enter the EU.  With an expired resident card i would not be allowd to board the flight. 

I would have to apply for a schengen visa to re enter the EU and that opens  a whole lot of other issues should i over stay the visa or try to continue to renew a expired resident permit that i did not use to enter the country , and so the saga continues ………………………

 

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Hon Member
(@thomasribatejo)
Joined: 7 years ago

Posts: 218

@ak4 fair enough; and sorry for the situation you’re in! I hope things get addressed sooner rather than later… and I’m sure people here will pass along updates as soon as there’s news.

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Community Member
Joined: 3 months ago

Posts: 2

@thomasribatejo You’re forgetting about all the random customer service reps that think they are Junior Detectives with Interpol. We just flew back to PT from the US and Delta Airlines was a pain in the rear end (your visa’s expired; where’s your return blah blah blah).

The way airports work, you get one clerk that decides they are the last barrier between chaos and order, you’re going to just be stuck (or arrested and/or tasered/shot).

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Posts: 9
 AK4
Community Member
(@ak4)
Joined: 3 months ago

I appreciate the bits of information people share, thank you .

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Hon Member
Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 2962

@ak4 Have you tried renewing through the SEF portal?

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 AK4
Community Member
(@ak4)
Joined: 3 months ago

Posts: 9

@jonesdn2020 

I have , msg. i get is not eligible for auto renewal. 

I don’t know what is the criteria for auto renewal. 

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Hon Member
Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 2962

@ak4 When is your expiration date? Some have commented you need to have the site set to Portuguese language and not have your browser translate. 

Gilda from Ei! mentioned being able to get the renewals done. We will use Ei! if we can’t get ours done on our own. 

Having an expired resident permit is a huge issue for us but ours are good until the end of August. 

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 AK4
Community Member
(@ak4)
Joined: 3 months ago

Posts: 9

@jonesdn2020 

Mine expires in Sep. end , i guess its still too early maybe. 

Wondering what  is the criteria for auto renewal- my residency was based on family reunion,  was a long term temporary residency card. Look to just renew the card, nothing fancy like nationality or permanet residency. 

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Hon Member
Joined: 3 years ago

Posts: 2962

@ak4 Yes, that should be eligible for online renewal based on what the site states. Yes, it is too early for it to be opened up. We will post as we learn more and see if we can online renew this summer.

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 AK4
Community Member
(@ak4)
Joined: 3 months ago

Posts: 9

@jonesdn2020 

Appreciate your input, thanks !

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Posts: 2
Community Member
Joined: 3 months ago

I recall some posts on Facebook about filing some kind of formal complaint. Has anyone tried that? Allegedly, they are required to give some kind of response within 15 days. Some have had luck, others not so much.

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