Temporary and Circular Migration Project between Portugal and Ukraine

  • Country of destination: Portugal
  • Country of origin: Ukraine
  • Sectors: Agriculture, Horticulture, and Food Processing, Construction, Engineering, and Manufacturing, Tourism and Hospitality
  • Skill level: Low
  • Timeline: 2008 - 2010
  • Number of beneficiaries: 35


The Temporary Circular Migration project between Portugal and Ukraine was a pilot project that aimed to recruit 50 Ukrainian workers for temporary work in Portugal for periods of 3–12 months. The objective of the program was to promote legal migration and to integrate a set of Ukrainian migrants into Portuguese companies for a predetermined period (with a temporary work visas extended for three to six months), with the commitment to return to Ukraine after this period was over.

Why was it started?

Portugal established a bilateral agreement on temporary migration with Ukraine in 2003. The agreement resulted in the creation of an experimental program for temporary migration by Ukrainian workers to Portugal, with a view to establishing migratory rotation for seasonal employment, including in the tourism, fishing, and agriculture sectors.

How does it work?

The program selected 50 Ukrainian candidates to spend six months working in the agricultural, hotel and restaurant, and construction sectors in Portugal. It was funded by the European Commission and implemented by the Portuguese government.

The project provided Ukrainian participants with pre-departure orientation and post-return vocational training and guidance on starting a small business. The International Organization for Migration financed the outward and return journeys. The World Bank evaluated the project.

What impact has it had?

The project was launched during the financial crisis. It could recruit only 35 workers instead of 50. It faced practical difficulties (timing and delays) as well as administrative and legislative challenges. For example, according to the Portuguese labor law, social security benefits are restricted to periods of stay longer than 24 months. However, under the program, contracts that could be signed did not exceed 12 months. Another problem faced by the program was the amount of certificates required for obtaining a visa.