Portugal Visas, Work Permits and Migration
Portugal is easy going and one of the most peaceful countries in the world, providing a high standard of living for its residents. Like most countries, Portugal’s economy contracted through 2019 to 2021, however, an upwardly mobile economy is expected from 2022 and beyond with European Union (EU) investment of around €14 billion through to 2026. Apart from a desirable environment for living and working, Ease of Doing Business in Portugal for 2020 was ranked at 39th out of 190 countries.
To enter, live and work in Portugal requires documentation and penalties exist for non-compliance with the legalities. As part of the EU which it joined in 1986, Portugal operates a ‘free movement of persons’ policy, so citizens of the EU and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) do not require visas or permits to reside or look for employment. However, stays exceeding 90 days require a residence certificate (Certificado de Registo) and their national ID.
Third Country Nationals (TCNs) need a Temporary Stay Work Visa for some short-term employment and for longer periods a Long-term Visa, Work Permit and Residence Permit are needed.
There are numerous routes into the Portugal workforce and understanding the documentation, qualification and making the right choice for you or your employees takes expert advice.
What Types of Work Visas, and Permits for Portugal are there?
European Union (EU) and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) countries’ citizens do not require a Work Visa or Work Permit to enter, live and find employment in Portugal and can travel on their national ID. However, if they stay for longer than three months a Residence Certificate must be applied for through the local council where they are living. Family members who are not EU citizens require a Residence Card and this is applied for through the Immigration and Border Service (SEF) (Servico de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras). Non-compliance will result in fines. EU citizens must have either a job after three months or sufficient funds to support themselves and their families.
Around 191 countries are also visa-exempt for 90 days in a 180-day period, but all travelers require a passport, no older than 10 years with validity for six months, a return ticket and enough money for the proposed trip. For stays exceeding three months, a national visa should be applied for, allowing for stays of up to one year.
Visas available to Third Country Nationals (TCNs) not visa-exempt
- Short Stay Visas: Schengen Visas up to three months for e.g., seasonal work, business purposes, visiting family and tourism or airport transit.
- Temporary Stay Visas: These are National Visas which allow multiple stays for trips between three and 12 months and are valid during the entire trip. The main work category is the Temporary Work Visa for skilled employees, self-employed and freelance workers, those carrying out academic or scientific research and seasonal workers. Also available are visas for study, training, volunteering, internships, a medical visa, and a self-support visa for retired persons
- Residence Visas: Called Long Stay Visas or National Visas for those people wanting to stay for longer than 12 months. Categories are the same as the Temporary Stay Visa, as is the form and who qualifies. For example – Work Visa, Study, Training, Volunteer and Internship, Family Reunion, and Retirement Visa. This visa is only valid for four months, when holders need to then apply for a ‘Portuguese Residency Permit’ from SEF.
Tech Visa Program: This is for companies and start-ups – wanting to hire highly educated, qualified or specialized staff i.e., citizens classified as TCNs – to become certified to do so. They are only allowed to hire foreigners equal to 50% of their staff.
Golden Visa Scheme: A fast track system for investors or those wishing to purchase property. If applicants qualify, they are given a Residence Permit and can later apply for citizenship.
ICT (Intra-Company Transfer): For employees who transfer to a branch in Portugal from a company within the same group. The employee applies for the work permit directly to the SEF. They do not require a work visa to enter Portugal if their nationality is visa-exempt, otherwise applications are made at a local consulate/embassy or online. Validity and therefore residency is for the length of the contract or for one year to a maximum of three years and does not therefore require a Residence Permit.