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(30 March 2020) - All migrants and asylum seekers currently living in Portugal are to be treated as permanent residents during the coronavirus crisis, the government has announced.

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© REUTERS/Rafael Marchante

The changes, announced on Saturday, will ensure foreigners who are still in the middle of applying for official documentation can still access life-saving public services.

They will need only to provide evidence of an ongoing residency request before they can use the country’s health service, welfare system, bank accounts, and work and rental contracts.

The policy is not purely philanthropic: if implemented correctly, officials hope it will help prevent contagion by reducing contract between border control staff and applicants.

It is not immediately clear how many people the new change in law there would effect but government statistics show that some 135,000 people – the majority of them Brazilians followed by Romanians, Ukrainians, Britons and Chinese – were granted residency in 2019. (REUTERS / Independent )

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