Portugal continues to be a top destination for American ex-pats. Its coastal location, warm climate, and amazing culture continue to bring visitors from around the globe. The problem is that once they visit, they don't want to leave!
Currently, around 7% of the Portuguese population is made up of ex-pats from other countries. This includes all visa types.
Experts expect that number to grow in the coming years. Currently, ex-pats live in the big cities. Areas like Lisbon, Faro, Setubal, and Porto hold most of Portugal's ex-pat population.
But, those cities can only accommodate this wave of immigration to Portugal for so long. Eventually, the growing ex-pat population will spill out to the areas surrounding those major cities.
With Portugal becoming such a popular immigration destination, many ex-pats wonder which Portuguese visa is right for them. Fortunately, that's exactly what we're going to cover in today's article. Consider this your go-to comparison guide of Portuguese visas.
We're going to cover the various Portugal visa types and the prices associated with each one. We'll also talk about the step-by-step process law firms will take you through to obtain your visa.
We have a lot of information to cover. Let's get going!
Understanding Portuguese Immigration
The Portuguese immigration system works in the same way as many states within the European Union. Residents of the EU can move to Portugal without applying for immigration status. This is because Portugal is considered part of the Schengen Area.
The Schengen area covers 26 countries that lie outside the EU. These countries have border control arrangements set up with the EU. As a result, EU residents can travel to these countries freely.
But visa legislation in the Schengen area only allows for "short stay" visas for EU residents. This means they can only stay in Schengen countries for a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period. Therefore, if an ex-pat from the EU wanted to settle down in Portugal, they would need to eventually register as a permanent resident.
The rest of the world has to go through the traditional immigration and visa process in order to relocate to Portugal. They don't even have the luxury of the "short stay" Schengen visas that the EU has at their disposal.
Expats from other countries can relocate to Portugal for a number of reasons. Relocation for work, retirement, reuniting with family, and education are all valid reasons to receive a Portuguese visa.
Even if ex-pats are traveling for the above reasons, they still need to apply for a visa. As a result, there are certain criteria they need to meet to gain access to the country.
Portugal also offers a Golden Visa program. This program is aimed at attracting wealthy ex-pats into the country for investment purposes.
Who Needs A Portuguese Visa?
Like many other countries, Portugal works on a two-tier visa system. The immigration rules that apply to you depend on which country you're migrating from. If you're emigrating from a country within the EU, you're subject to different rules than ex-pats from countries outside the EU.
Citizens of the EU
As we mentioned earlier, Portugal is a member of the EU. This means EU citizens have the luxury of visa-free entry to Portugal.
Residents of the EU can extend this visa-free entry to Portugal to their relatives, as well. This is true even if the relatives don't live in a country within the EU.
Portugal is unique in that it's also a member of the Schengen Area. These are the 26 countries that have no border control with the countries of the EU. Residents of these countries can travel from one to the other freely.
There is no need for a visa or passport. All EU residents can travel to Portugal with just their proper identification documents. But this only approves them for three months of travel.
If EU residents wish to stay in Portugal longer, they need to apply for a registration certificate. This allows EU residents to remain in Portugal for longer than three months. After going through this process for 5 years, EU residents can request permanent Portuguese residence.
Permanent Residence for EU Citizens
EU residents are eligible for these permanent resident permits but they need to be careful. The permanent residency permits for Portugal have an expiration date. Residents of the EU will need to be mindful of the expiration date on their permits and renew them every so often.
The registration certificate for EU residents lasts approximately 5 years. The cost is about 15 euros to get your certificate. Each member of your family that's living in Portugal will need a certificate.
Only certain family members of EU residents are allowed to emigrate to Portugal. A legal spouse or partner, dependent children, and dependent grandparents are the only non-EU residents that can use their relatives' EU status to emigrate to Portugal.
In addition to registering, each member of your family will need to sign up for social security in Portugal.
There are slight changes in the immigration policy and the rules you need to follow. This all depends on your reason for emigrating to Portugal. Students, retirees, permanent residents, and even investors all have different immigration criteria.
It's important to talk to your local branch of the Portuguese Immigration and Border Service before making the move.
The immigration and visa process for non-EU citizens looks a little different. They don't have the luxury of being able to freely visit Portugal.
Some countries outside the EU have a border agreement with Portugal. If your home country doesn't have one, you'll need to apply for a visa.
There are currently 61 countries that have agreements with Portugal. The UK, United States, Australia, Japan, and Canada are all included in this list. This means residents of these countries don't need to apply for visas for short stays within Portugal.
If a non-EU resident wishes to stay in Portugal longer than three months, they'll need to apply for a long-term Portuguese visa. They need to apply for a visa before entering Portugal. Then, they'll need to apply for a permanent residence registration upon their arrival.
Portuguese Visa Types
There are three general types of Portuguese visas. People wishing to visit Portugal can either apply for a short-stay visa, a Temporary Stay National visa, or a Long Stay National visa.
Short stay visas are good for trips up to 90 days within a 180-day period. Temporary stay National visas are good for stays in Portugal up to one year. Long Stay National visas are good for trips over one year.
Long Stay visas are also known as Residency visas.
General Short Stay Visa
Short stay visas in Portugal are also known as Schengen visas. These visas can be granted for tourism, work, visiting family, business, or other short-term reasons. People who apply for the Schengen visa can also travel around to other countries in the Schengen Area for the duration of their visa.
These visas are good for general visits like tourism, short-term work or business, and family visits. Applicants will need to make sure they have the proper documentation along with their application paperwork.
You'll need to provide:
- Valid Passport
- Photo ID
- Proof of financial stability for the duration of your stay
- Proof of health insurance
- Return ticket reservation
- Evidence of the nature of your visit
- Details of where you'll be staying during your visit
Seasonal Work Visa
This short-stay visa is specific to work duties for a particular season. The seasonal work visa applies to the following industries:
- Forestry, hunting, fishing, or farming
- Food, liquor, tobacco industries
- Land transport
Seasonal workers will need to provide all the same documentation as the general short-stay visa. In addition, you'll also need to provide a copy of your work contract and compliance with national legal requirements. This is only in the case of regulated professions.
Airport Transit Visa
This visa allows travelers to catch connecting flights in the international area of an airport. This visa is mandatory for all passengers that change flights in a Schengen country. The only time this rule doesn't apply is if they're exempt from needing a Portuguese entry visa.
You'll need to provide most of the same documents as for the general short-stay visa. You'll also need to provide an entry visa for the country of your destination.
This type of Temporary Stay visa is good for any period of study lasting from 90 days up to one year. Studies included are secondary, graduate, and post-graduate education.
You'll need all of the basic general documentation. In addition, you'll also need proof that you were accepted into the appropriate course of study. This study needs to be at an accredited Portuguese institution.
You'll also need to provide proof that the course lasts no longer than one year.
The NHR Tax Regime
The NHR is known as the Non-habitual resident tax regime. The biggest benefit of the NHR regime is tax advantages. This comes in handy if you're getting any sort of income from a business or property within Portugal.
You're eligible for an NHR regime if you've recently moved back to Portugal and have been away for over 5 years. Many individuals apply for the NHR regime because it gives them very favorable tax rates.
An example is capital gains taxes on crypto. Portugal is becoming a popular haven for crypto investors because you can realize crypto profits almost 100% free of capital gains tax.
You'll also be able to greatly reduce the amount of taxes you owe to the government. The exact breakdown of taxation all depends on your main source of income.
In order to apply for the NHR regime, a person needs to meet one or more of the following criteria:
- Anyone who hasn’t lived in Portugal for the past 5 years (foreigners or Portuguese)
- Anyone who hasn’t been on the NHR scheme before (you can only join once)
- Anyone who satisfies both of the rules above and also become tax resident in Portugal
The Family Reunion Visa
The Family Reunion visa can also be called the Family Reunification visa. This visa is used to help residents reunite with family members that are living abroad.
Any Portuguese citizen has the right to bring over certain relatives with this visa. Those relatives include a spouse, dependent children, dependent grandparents, and grandchildren.
Family members of residents can apply for a Family Reunion visa after the resident has received their visa. This is true regardless of the type of visa they receive.
The Golden Visa
The Golden Visa is a visa available to wealthy individuals who plan on investing in the Portuguese economy. It's aimed at spurring investment and growth in certain areas of the country.
These target areas are known as areas of "urban regeneration". The urban regeneration areas require the lowest investment amount for visa approval. Applicants only need to invest 280,000 euros in urban regeneration areas.
If an applicant wants to invest in a low-density area of Portugal, they may need to pay more. In order to receive the visa, investors must invest in a property that's worth 400,000 euros or more in low-density areas.
Moving to a high-density area like Lisbon comes with the highest investment amount. In order to apply for a Golden Visa in this type of area, investors need to invest in a property with a value of 500,000 euros or more.
Once you are approved for a Golden Visa, you can apply for a Family Reunion visa to bring over family members.
The D7 Visa
The D7 visa is a Portuguese Visa that focuses on retirees. Any retirees who are living off of a "stabilized income" and wish to relocate to Portugal can apply.
A "stabilized income" is a pension, intellectual property, real estate, or financial investment. The D7 visa allows retirees to relocate to Portugal regardless of age. This visa is valid for 2 entries into the country and is good for a period of 4 months.
Not everyone who applies for the D7 visa needs to be a retiree. Younger residents of some countries can show their bank account statements as "stabilized income". This makes them eligible for the D7 visa.
They can apply for the visa from there before they leave their home country and arrive in Portugal.
The D2 Visa
The D2 Visa is known as the "immigrant entrepreneur" visa. It's not as well-known as the D7 or Golden Visa. It's also a little more complicated to get.
To qualify for this visa, you have to demonstrate that you have enough passive income coming into your bank account to live in Portugal. The unique part of this visa application is that it revolves around your business idea.
The Portuguese government will ask to see your business plan. They'll also ask for sound reasoning for starting the business. Your business network will also play a part in whether or not you get approved for the D2 visa.
Digital Nomad Visa or D8 Visa
The Digital Nomad visa, also known as the D8 Visa, is tailored for non-European individuals who work remotely and wish to reside in Portugal while maintaining their international employment or freelance activities. This visa category is perfect for location-independent professionals seeking to enjoy Portugal's outstanding quality of life, without being bound to a local employer.To qualify for the D8 Visa, applicants must demonstrate a reliable and regular income from their remote work, either through an employment contract with a non-Portuguese company or as self-employed freelancers with international clients.
The required income must be sufficient to support themselves and their dependents during their stay in Portugal and should generally be at least equal to the Portuguese minimum wage.Applicants for the D8 Visa must also meet specific criteria, including passing a criminal background check and having valid health insurance coverage or being registered with the Portuguese Social Security system.
In some cases, applicants may need to provide proof of accommodation in Portugal, such as a rental contract or property deed.Once granted the D8 Visa, holders can legally reside in Portugal while continuing their remote work, taking advantage of the country's excellent infrastructure, vibrant expat community, and access to world-class healthcare and education systems. After five years of continuous legal residence, D8 Visa holders may apply for a permanent residence permit and eventually Portuguese citizenship, subject to meeting other legal requirements.The D8 Visa presents an exceptional opportunity for digital nomads to experience the captivating culture, history, and natural beauty of Portugal while maintaining their global careers and enjoying a well-balanced and fulfilling lifestyle.
Comparing Visa Types
With so many different types of Portuguese visas, it helps to know their strengths and weaknesses. Depending on what you want to do in Portugal, one visa may be much better for you than the others.
Here is a quick rundown of how the visas mentioned above stack up against one another.
The Golden Visa vs D7 Visa
If you're choosing between the Golden Visa or the D7 Visa, it's going to come down to two things: time or money.
The Golden Visa is going to require you to spend more money in order to qualify. We went over those qualifications above. But, someone in possession of a Golden Visa only needs to stay in the country for 7 consecutive days.
For a D7 Visa, on the other hand, you'll need to stay in Portugal for 6 consecutive or 8 non-consecutive months. The D7 also won't require you to make an investment in Portugal. You'll just need to show the standard proof of income required for most visa applications.
The D7 visa is a very popular option compared to Portugal's Golden Visa. This is because the D7 visa has an easier application process and takes much less time.
It can take up to 6 years for an ex-pat to establish Portuguese residency under the Golden Visa process. If they choose to apply for a D7 visa, the process only takes one to two months.
The D2 vs D7 Visa
The D2 visa is called the "immigrant entrepreneur" visa for a reason. Not only do you need to prove your income to obtain this visa, but your income needs to come from a specific source.
In order to qualify for a D2 visa, your income needs to come from a business you started yourself or a business you buy. This is a rather unique set of circumstances.
For that reason, we think most people would benefit from the D7 over the D2. Naturally, if you plan on moving to Portugal to start a business, the D2 is the way to go.
The Golden Visa vs Family Reunion Visa
The Golden Visa has a family reunion component that is slightly different than the traditional Family Reunion visa.
The traditional Family Reunion visa only allows dependent children, a spouse, and dependent grandparent to relocate to Portugal with you. If someone receives the Golden Visa, their Family Reunion visa extends to more family members.
This is because Golden Visa applicants are making a significant investment into the Portuguese economy. The only requirement for family members coming to Portugal under a Golden Visa is that any children must be under 18 or dependent on you throughout the 5-year application window.
There are many visa types required to travel to Portugal. But, they all fall under one of the three categories mentioned above. The documentation and application process for each is very similar.
There may just be little changes here and there that are necessary to meet the requirements.
If you have any more questions about moving to Portugal, contact the movingto.io team. We're more than happy to answer any of your questions.
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