Many takers for Portuguese citizenship from Goa

Nearly a thousand Indians  queue up expectantly every month to begin the process or to collect the Bilhete de Identidade (the Portuguese ID card) after being granted one.
“We had a thousand applications a month last year, for various documents,” Portugal’s Consul General in Goa Antonio Sabido Costa told Deccan Herald. But the consulate itself, he says, processes only a fraction of these.

Nearly 90 per cent of applicants prefer to use agents who have cultivated convenient contacts in Lisbon. While this helps cut past the red tape at the consulate which has acquired a reputation for deliberate procrastination and arrogance among local employees, it has created a parallel industry of touts, procuradors (procurers of documents) and legal firms dealing exclusively with the Portuguese nationality process. Charges range from Rs 40,000 for acquiring documents to Rs 5 lakh for ensuring “complex” cases get through.

“There’s a big industry living off it, and mafias waiting to exploit these people,” a Portuguese official concedes. Portugal, he says is one of the most hospitable EU countries, and not in the least opposed to people seeking jobs. “But let them get there in a proper way and not through the back door with fake documentation.”

But for many Goans, the Portuguese consulate is a frosty bureaucratic barrier they would rather avoid.

Among the documents made available to this newspaper is the 2009 case of a Goan applicant who was informed that someone else had already taken the Portuguese citizenship in his name. The case is still to be resolved. A woman who applied in 2002 says she’s practically given up. “The consulate has been of little help,” she said.

“Unless one has contacts in the consulate, it is immensely frustrating to get a Schengen visa, specially if you hold a Portuguese ID,” an agent said. A widow, who planned a Europe trip with her two sons, was granted a visa, but her two sons were turned down.

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