Portugal’s comprehensive integration policies rank high in the MIPEX ‘Top Ten’, scoring 81 on the MIPEX 100-point scale. In the Top Ten MIPEX countries, integration works well as a two-way process, as citizens and newcomers generally enjoy equal rights, opportunities and security.
Portugal is one of the leading ‘Top Ten’ countries, along leading Nordics and traditional destination countries. Portugal specifically leads among the ‘newer’ destination countries, far ahead of countries like Italy and Spain. Compared to all other developed countries, Portugal’s integration policies in 2019 were above average in all policy areas except migrant health.
Portugal’s comprehensive approach to integration matters because the way that governments treat immigrants strongly influences how well immigrants and the public interact and think of each other. Drawing on 130 independent scientific studies using MIPEX, integration policies emerge as one of the strongest factors shaping this two-way process: not only the public’s willingness to accept and interact with immigrants, but also immigrants’ own attitudes and integration outcomes.
For public opinion, granting equal rights, opportunities and security encourages the public to see integration as an opportunity and to treat immigrants as their equals, neighbours and potential citizens. Under inclusive policies like Portugal's, both immigrants and the public are more likely to interact together and feel comfortable with each other as equals.
For immigrants, a country’s approach to integration also shapes how well immigrants think and feel about their new home country. Integration policies are also one of strongest factors shaping immigrants’ own attitudes, sense of belonging, political participation and even their health in their new home country.
- Labour market mobility: Favourable: Ranked #1 in labour market policies, alongside Germany and Nordics, Portugal guarantees equal treatment and targeted support both for Portuguese and non-EU citizens. Over the long-term, these policies are associated with fairer labour market outcomes, as immigrants benefit from better jobs, skills and public acceptance.
- Family reunification: Favourable: Portugal enjoys some of the most ‘family-friendly’ policies in the developed world, ranked #3 on family reunification alongside Canada and Brazil. Many non-EU families are able to reunite together and treated equally as Portuguese families.
- Education: Slightly favourable: Portugal’s approach to intercultural education is improving, but still behind the leading Nordics and traditional destination countries. Pupils benefit from equal opportunities in many respects and, since 2016, greater attention to cultural diversity at school. Greater focus is needed on school quality and diversity in higher education, the teaching profession and across the curriculum.
- Health: Slightly favourable: Like half of the MIPEX countries, Portugal has slowly improved healthcare access and information, with slightly favourable policies by 2019. Portugal could secure better health outcomes by enshrining recent COVID-related practices into long-term legislation and policies to mainstream migrant health in all health departments and services.
- Political participation: Favourable: As a leader in Europe, Portugal is promoting non-EU immigrants’ political participation in policy and practice: Portugal supports immigrant civil society and consultative bodies, although voting rights remain uneven and limited
- Permanent residence: Slightly favourable: While the path is relatively clear for non-EU immigrants to become long-term residents, most prefer to become full Portuguese citizens
- Access to nationality: Favourable: Ranking alongside traditional destination countries, Portugal continued to improve on its world-class Citizenship Model in 2018, with a clearer path for the first generation after 5 years and for the Portuguese-born second generation. These policies matter to boost immigrants’ naturalisation rates, integration outcomes and sense of belonging and trust.
- Anti-discrimination: Favourable: With relatively young and under-resourced policies compared to traditional destination countries, Portugal’s strong anti-discrimination laws and enforcement mechanisms are slowly raising the levels of public awareness and discrimination reporting.