How does the State support return?

The last month, I have shared some facts and figures regarding returning flows to Portugal, and to the north-eastern regions in particular. I have also showed a correlation between traditional areas of out-migration, returns, and location of one of the support mechanism found in Portuguese institutions: the Gabinete de Apoio ao Emigrante.

Let me detail a bit more the various mechanisms that support returning citizens who resided outside of Portugal.

Firstly, there is the one I mentioned before, the Gabinete de Apoio ao Regresso Emigrante, a cooperation between the High Commission for Immigration matters, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Among the FAQ that benefit from a quick link on the webpage, are the ones related to social benefits, fiscal benefits and employment (access to-).

If we acknowledge the fact that many returnees might be reaching the age of retirement, it does not come as a surprise that GAE provide information on social benefits. Especially since the IGOT based project DeMIG, and the work of Bruno Machado, a PhD student at IGOT, on return and welfare, show that migrants often feel shame to ask for benefits, and sometimes lack the knowledge to access them.

Apart from the GAE, there are several mechanisms at national-level. One of them is the quota reserved for Portuguese return migrants and their offspring in high education. However, the impact is still limited. There were
324 beneficiaries in 2018. I am also trying to get the numbers of MSCA beneficiaries that are Portuguese (meaning they would have been non-resident for a while to benefit from this mobility grant), but so far, my requests were not answered.

A most discussed support mechanism is the one related to fiscal benefits: the most well-known is the status “non-regular resident” which enable new residents who were not in Portugal the last five years to benefit from a fixed rate of 20% income tax for ten years after return. On top of this, and as the journalist here suggests, without knowing yet the impact of the non-regular resident status, the parliament voted for the Programa Regressar, permitting Portuguese who were residents before 2015 to pay income taxes only on half of their incomes.

If the returnees come back to the “inner territories”, which are basically the peripheral areas and the traditional out-migration areas, the support mechanism under the scheme valorização do interior include fiscal benefits for investments, discounts for high education and  fiscal benefits for rent. Even though the official document does not include the words emigrant or return once, the media has understood this scheme as beneficiating returnees.

In the past, other national initiatives have meant to enhance investments by returnees, such as the competition 50/50 that aimed at stimulating social and humanitarian initiatives of returnees: the migrants that proposed a project and brought 50% of funds got an equal matching fund from the High Commission for Immigration Matters. The project stated: “every entity can submit their ideas to the 50/50 competition in order to receive the support of Portuguese emigrants interested in investing in their homeland. This competition pretends to transform the Portuguese emigrants in agents of social and local territorial development agents”. Well… That speaks for itself…

At the same moment, another programme was brought forward: Elevar a seu negocio, for Portuguese micro-entrepreneurs that already own businesses abroad and wish to establish in Portugal. Here again, the lexicon in the project description turns around the ideas of “creating value for the economy”, “enhance relations with their country of origin and their homeland”. The use of the term elevar proved very similar to the “moral ascent” provided by the term Aliyah, the hebrew term refering to the return of Jews from the diaspora to Israel!

The country does not only want to bring entrepreneurs, but also workers. The Plataforma de Mobilidade Profissional Global was set to hire Portuguese that currently live abroad, and could find a position on the local market. There are even private initiatives, such as this one in Paris, where corporations go to fair abroad to recruit potential returnees!

Finally, some initiatives are “territorially-based”, that is initiated in specific cities or regions, such as: InvestBraga, or LisbonBusinessConnections, Bizfeira, Construir Futuros, Embaixadores de Vila Real… They are described here.

Let’s try to summarise:

Accompaniement Fiscal benefits Employment support High education
National Gabinete de Apoio ao Emigrante (GAE) Non-regular resident

Programa Regressar

Competition 50/50

Elevar a suo negocio

Plataforma de mobilidade profissional global

Quota for returnees
Local Presence of these GAE in municipalities Valorizacao do Interior programme InvestBraga



Construir Futuros

Embaixadores de Vila Real

Discount on fees in the “inner territories”

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