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The European Solidarity Corps (ESC) is managed in Portugal by the National Agency for Erasmus+ YA (PT NA) and it is the “new European Union initiative which creates opportunities for young people to volunteer or work in projects in their own country or abroad, which benefit communities and people around Europe”. Young people can register for the European Solidarity Corps when they are 17 years old and they can start a project at 18 years old. ESC will be available to people up to the age of 30 years old. Projects supported by the European Solidarity Corps can last from two to twelve months (in specific cases - young people with fewer opportunities and volunteering teams, the projects can last from 2 weeks to 2 months). They will usually be located within the European Union’s Member States.
It is worth noting that previously, until 2018, there wasthe European Voluntary Service (EVS) which was the volunteering Programme included in the Erasmus+ YA Programme. At a national level, it was also managed by PTNA.
Since the beginning of its implementation in 2018, and according to data provided by the National Agency, 32 young Portuguese citizens travelled abroad under the ESC (2018: 19; 2019 R1+R2: 13), in its various strands, with the main destinations being Ukraine, Moldova, Tunisia, Greece and Italy.
Regarding the participants that carry out projects in Portugal, under the ESC, 367 were counted (2018: 126; 2019 - R1+R2: 241), with the main nationalities of young foreigners being Italian, Spanish, Polish, Greek and French.
There are no other international programmes supported in part or entirely by the State.
Portugal is a member of the Schengen Agreement, so only youth volunteers from European Solidarity Corps programme’s non-European partner countries need VISAS and a residence permit.
The legal framework for entry, permanence, exit and removal of foreigners in national territory is regulated by Law 23/2007 and subsequent amendments, as the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) explains. Nationals from the EU, Switzerland, Andorra, and Liechtenstein will only need their identity cards. For everyone else, a passport must be valid for at least six months after entry into Portugal.
To enter Portuguese territory, foreigners must:
- Carry a travel document, valid for a period at least three months longer than the length of the intended stay;
- Hold a valid entry visa appropriate for the purpose of the stay. This visa must always be requested in a diplomatic mission or Portuguese consular officer outside of Portugal;
- Have sufficient means of subsistence for the period of stay;
- Not be registered with alerts in SEF’s Integrated Information System nor in the Schengen Information System.
Issuance of a residence permit for the purpose of volunteering:
A third-country national who requires a visa for a residence permit in order to take part in a voluntary service programme should:
- Have the minimum age defined by ordinance of the Ministry of Home Affairs;
- Have been admitted in an organisation officially recognised in Portugal, that is responsible for the volunteering programme in which he takes part.