International Migrants' Day and the promotion of digitalisation: an improvement in the rights of foreign citizens?
Today, 18 December, International Migrants' Day, we believe it is important to highlight the drive towards digitisation that has been carried out throughout 2020 by the Secretariat of Migration together with the General Secretariat for Digital Administration and the advances this implies in terms of the rights of the immigrant population.
During this year we have seen an update and a necessary advance for the presentation of certain files to the Foreigners' Offices which, until now, could only be done in person. This was an obstacle due to processing times, since it was necessary to make an appointment in advance at the Foreigners' Offices, most of the time at least a month before, but on many occasions the wait was many months longer. Now, as soon as all the necessary documentation has been collected, the file can be presented with the Digital Certificate, drastically reducing waiting times.
The novelty this week has been that it will be possible to process the initial residence and work permits for employees telematically. It will no longer be obligatory for the employee and/or worker to appear before the Foreigners' Office for this type of procedure, thus avoiding the obstacles and delays that could be encountered at the time of presentation, as on several occasions they would not accept the file if any document was missing, having to request a new appointment. Nowadays, once all the documents submitted electronically have been assessed, the Foreigners Office will notify the essential ones electronically and can provide them within 10 working days. With this innovation, the workload of the Foreigners' Office is expected to be reduced by between 27% and 29% and, most importantly, processing times.
Therefore, the following files can now be submitted telematically on the MERCURIO platform:
- EX00 Application for authorisation of stays and extensions.
- EX02 Application for authorisation of temporary residence for family reunification.
- EX03 Application for temporary residence and subordinate employment.
- EX10 Application for authorisation of residence or residence and work for exceptional circumstances.
- EX19 Application for residence card of family member of EU citizen.
- EX20 Residence permit art. 50 TEU for UK nationals (issued in accordance with Article 18.4 of the Withdrawal Agreement).
- EX21 Residence permit art. 50 TEU for family members of UK nationals (issued in accordance with art. 18.4 of the Withdrawal Agreement).
However, let us not lose perspective and bear in mind that there is still a long way to go to bring the rights of citizens of foreign origin into line with those of nationals in their dealings with public administrations, since in order to obtain a digital certificate it is necessary to have a valid residence permit and therefore many of these citizens do not have the option of obtaining this certificate and therefore cannot present their applications themselves but must do so through a representative.
The administration must explore alternative ways or allow digital certificates to be obtained with a passport so that any citizen, whether or not they are a foreigner, can personally carry out their procedures on an equal footing with the State or Autonomous Community Administration. Likewise, not everyone has access to the computer resources necessary to carry out the procedures, so these digitalisation measures should be compatible with face-to-face options for those cases that require it so that their right to access the public administration is not hindered in the interests of digitalisation.
We hope that progress will continue to be made in the digitisation of all immigration processes but beyond this, in improving access to the Administration for foreign citizens and that this will lead to a reduction in waiting times which is the main negative consequence of the current lack of resources in the Administration in the area of immigration.
At AGM, we deal with any file regarding foreigners. For more information, please do not hesitate to contact us.