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Foreign criminals avoid explusion from Portugal 'on humanitarian grounds'

5223Amendments to the Aliens Act, has opened the door to those foreigners convicted of violent crimes to receive a residence visa on “humanitarian grounds.”

The Aliens and Borders Service (SEF) has strongly opposed these amendments that can thwart the normal expulsion of convicted foreign criminals.

Foreigners convicted of violent crimes, such as homicides, violent robberies and drug trafficking, may receive residence permits due to the changes in the Act.

Until recently, the law stated that foreigners with criminal records with sentences over one year, can not be accepted as residents. However, amendments approved by the Socialist Party, Communists and Left Bloc in August 2017, do not allow foreign criminals in Portugal to be expelled from the country if they have “family connections” in the country.

The new legislation only authorises expulsion "in case of well-founded suspicion of the commission of terrorist crimes, sabotage or violation of national security or conviction for such crimes."

As the law contradicts itself, the solution approved by the Ministry of Internal Administration, was to use an exception that states, "when extraordinary situations arise" so that temporary residence visas can be issued "to foreign nationals who do not meet the requirements of this law ... for humanitarian reasons."

The SEF, which opposed these changes due to the contradictions, has not admitted how many residency documents already have been granted for "humanitarian reasons," but sources close to the process say there are around 20 to date.

In 2016 the SEF expelled 369 foreigners, 121 of whom were ordered out of the country by a court. There are no statistics on how many of these had family responsibilities.