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Portugal Student Visa: Application Process, Fees, and Tips

Planning to study in Portugal and need a student visa? Understand what it takes to successfully acquire your Portugal student visa, including eligibility criteria, the application process, and fees, without getting overwhelmed. This guide delivers the key information in a clear, straightforward manner, ensuring you’re prepared for each step as an international student.
April 1, 2024
Dean Fankhauser
April 1, 2024

Planning to study in Portugal and need a student visa? Understand what it takes to successfully acquire your Portugal student visa, including eligibility criteria, the application process, and fees, without getting overwhelmed. This guide delivers the key information in a clear, straightforward manner, ensuring you’re prepared for each step as an international student.

Key Takeaways

  • The Portugal student visa is essential for non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens seeking to pursue academic programs longer than three months and allows for professional training, internships, and volunteer work.
  • Applicants must be accepted by a recognized institution, have a valid passport with two blank pages, provide recent passport photos, show financial capability, and produce evidence of no criminal history.
  • The student visa application process involves detailed preparation of documents, scheduling an interview, and demonstrating financial stability, with fees including €170 for the visa application and approximately €155 for a residence permit.

Understanding the Portugal Student Visa

Portugal student visa

The first step towards your Portuguese academic adventure lies in understanding the student visa process. The Portugal student visa is an official document required by non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens planning to engage in academic or training programs in Portugal lasting longer than three months. It is a vital conduit for legally entering and residing in Portugal during your studies, offering opportunities to build international networks and enhance your educational experience.

Depending on the length and type of study, Portugal offers different student visas to cater to your educational activities. Whether it’s a short-term language course or a full-fledged doctoral program, there’s a visa for every academic aspiration. Not just limited to studying, the student visa also permits engagement in professional training, internships, and volunteer work, adding richness to your Portugal student journey.

Eligibility Criteria for Portugal Student Visa

Eligibility criteria for Portugal student visa

Embarking on this exciting journey requires meeting all the eligibility criteria for the Portugal student visa. As a non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizen, you must:

  • To be eligible for a student visa, you must have official acceptance from a recognized Portuguese higher education institution.
  • Have a valid passport with two blank pages, which is also a requirement for the Portugal Schengen visa.
  • Have two recent passport-sized photographs for the student visa application.

The visa application requires the following documents:

  • Proof of your previous highest education degree
  • Evidence of good character, typically provided through a Police Clearance Certificate (PCC),
  • Proof of financial means sufficient to support your stay in Portugal

There are no specific language requirements for the visa itself, making the process more accessible to international students, including any international student, worldwide.

Step-by-Step Visa Application Guide

Portugal student visa application process

Having covered the basics, we’ll proceed with an in-depth guide to the Portugal student visa process. The journey begins with an acceptance letter from a Portuguese university or institute. This document is your golden ticket to starting the student visa application process. Upon receiving the Letter of Acceptance, your next port of call is the Portuguese Embassy, where you’ll officially apply for a student visa.

Securing the acceptance letter and reaching out to the embassy require early and thorough preparation. This proactive approach can expedite subsequent visa processing. For a higher chance of visa approval, diligently meet all requirements, ensuring your documentation is accurate and complete. Let’s break down this process into a few manageable steps: preparing your documents, booking your appointment, and attending the visa interview.

Preparing Your Documents

When preparing your documents for the Portugal student visa application, accuracy and attention to detail are crucial. The application form, which can be obtained from the embassy, must be filled out with the utmost precision. Additionally, you’ll need to submit a valid passport or travel document, along with two passport-size photos that comply with Portugal’s guidelines.

Financial stability is another crucial aspect of your application. You can showcase this through bank statements, scholarship evidence, or documents proving financial aid or sponsorship. Accommodation arrangements in Portugal, verified with a rental contract, a confirmation from a university dorm, or a letter of invitation from a host, must also be included in the visa application. Lastly, to meet the eligibility criteria for the Portugal student visa, a certificate of good conduct or a criminal record check is necessary.

Booking Your Appointment

With your documents prepared, you can then schedule a visa appointment. This process is straightforward and can be completed using the official appointment scheduling tool online. After selecting a date for the appointment, remember to confirm your booking. You’ll know it’s done right when you receive a confirmation email.

Life can be unpredictable, and if you need to reschedule your visa interview, don’t panic. Simply contact the consulate as soon as possible with a valid reason, adhering to the consulate’s rescheduling policy.

The Visa Interview

The visa interview, a vital part of the process, brings you a step closer to your dream of studying in Portugal. The main purpose of this interview is to verify the authenticity of your visit and ensure you plan to return to your home country after your studies. To make a positive impression, dress in business casual attire, arrive 30 minutes early, and be prepared for security checks at the consulate.

The interview will involve questions about:

  • Your personal information
  • The purpose of the visit
  • Travel and accommodation plans
  • Professional life
  • Financial situation
  • Previous travels
  • Health insurance coverage

The language of the interview can be English, the applicant’s native language, or Portuguese if both parties agree. Remember, the outcome will not be known immediately. You’ll be informed about the visa decision once it has been made.

Who needs a Portuguese student visa?

Portugal's student visa regulations are designed to be consistent with those across the European Union (EU). For EFTA (European Free Trade Association) or EU citizens, a student visa is not required for any length of study. Instead, if planning to stay for longer than three months, these individuals must obtain an official residency certificate from the local municipality, which serves as a form of registration. Conversely, Portugal's residents who wish to study in Portugal for less than three months can do so without applying for a student visa. This flexibility also extends to citizens of the 61 countries that are exempt from requiring visas for short-term studies in Portugal. These countries benefit from agreements that facilitate educational exchanges and promote international academic collaboration, allowing their citizens to attend short courses, language programs, or summer schools without the bureaucratic hurdles of visa applications.

Fees and Financial Requirements

Fees and financial requirements for Portugal student visa

Understanding the various costs involved in studying abroad is essential for effective financial planning. Tuition fees in Portugal vary based on your program and whether you choose to study at a public or private university. For instance, bachelor’s programs at public universities range from €1,000 to €1,500 per year for EU/EEA students and €3,000 to €5,000 for non-EU/EEA students. Private universities have higher fees, with bachelor’s and master’s programs costing between €3,000 and €12,500 and €3,000 and €20,000, respectively, regardless of the student’s origin.

Aside from tuition fees, there are other costs to keep in mind. The visa application fee for a student visa to Portugal can amount to €170, and you’ll need to provide proof of payment. It’s also crucial to prove that you have sufficient financial means to support your stay in Portugal. This can be done through bank statements, scholarship letters, financial aid notifications, or sponsorship documents.

Lastly, don’t forget to budget for your living expenses. On-campus housing can cost between €150 and €300 per month, meals around 6 to 8 euros, a transportation pass between €20 and €40, and utility bills around €50 and €150. The cost of living can vary across cities, with Lisbon being the most expensive and smaller cities like Porto and Coimbra being more affordable.

Comparing the Portugal Student Visa to Other Portuguese Visas

Although the Portugal Student Visa is a favorable choice for those wanting to study, Portugal offers other visas to non-EU citizens as well.

Visa Type Purpose Eligibility Key Advantages Key Disadvantages
D7 Visa (Passive Income) Passive income generation Income from sources outside Portugal Low minimum income requirement, path to permanent residency and citizenship Income must be generated from passive sources, such as investments or pensions
D8 Visa (Freelance and Remote Work) Freelance and remote work Self-employed individuals or remote workers with clients outside Portugal Opportunity to live and work in Portugal while serving international clients Requires proof of income and clients outside Portugal
Golden Visa Investment Investment of €280,000 or more in real estate or other approved investments Fast-track to permanent residency and citizenship, no physical residency requirement High investment threshold, potential for property market fluctuations
Startup Visa (D2) Entrepreneurship Innovative business idea and minimum investment of €50,000 Support for entrepreneurs and potential for high returns, path to permanent residency Competitive application process, risk of business failure
Tech Visa Highly skilled workers Employment in a qualified tech sector company Access to Portugal's growing tech industry, streamlined application process Dependent on securing employment with a qualifying company
Studnet Visa Education Enrollment in a Portuguese educational institution Access to Portugal's education system, potential for post-graduation employment Requires full-time study, may not lead to permanent residency
Family Reunion Visa (D6) Family reunification Close family members of Portuguese citizens or residents Allows family members to live in Portugal with their loved ones Dependent on the status of the family member in Portugal
Jobseeker Visa Job search Proof of job search in Portugal and sufficient financial means Opportunity to explore job opportunities in Portugal, potential to obtain a work visa Limited duration, no guarantee of finding employment

We offer all long-term Portuguese visas for your needs.

Acquiring a Residence Permit

Acquiring a residence permit in Portugal

Upon arriving in Portugal, you’ll need to make your stay official. If you’re a non-EEA citizen studying in Portugal for longer than 90 days, you’ll need to obtain a residence permit after securing a Portuguese student visa. To do this, within four months of your arrival, you must apply for a residence permit at a local city council hall.

The application for a temporary residence permit requires various documents, including:

  • A completed application form
  • A valid passport and photocopy
  • Recent passport-size pictures
  • Proof of financial means and accommodation arrangements
  • Medical insurance
  • Proof of registration at an educational institution
  • Proof of paid tuition fees

The initial student residence permit is valid for one year and can be renewed for subsequent periods up to a maximum of five years at the Agency for Integration, Migrations, and Asylum (AIMA) local office. The application and issuance of a residence permit come with a fee of approximately €155.

Working While Studying

Like in many other countries, international students in Portugal often balance academics with work. International students in Portugal with a student visa or residence permit can work up to 20 hours per week during the semester. This allows you to earn some extra money, gain work experience, and immerse yourself in the local culture.

But what about during semester breaks and holidays? Good news! The same students are allowed to work full-time during these periods. These work permissions extend to non-EU/EEA students who hold a valid student visa and residence permit in Portugal, making it a more flexible and appealing destination for international students.

Bringing Family Members Along

If you’re considering bringing your family along during your studies in Portugal, rest assured it’s feasible! Dependent family members who can be brought to Portugal under a student visa include the student’s spouse or registered/domestic partner, minor children, and dependent adult children with illness or disability. Family members can apply for a reunification visa simultaneously with the student’s application or apply later after the student has settled in Portugal.

Residence permits under a Family Visa are valid for two years and can be renewed. After two years, family members can apply for an independent residence permit. Upon successful application, family members enjoy the same rights as the student visa holder, including the right to work in Portugal. The process of family reunification involves providing proof of sufficient financial resources and adequate accommodation, mirroring the student visa application requirements.

Non-EU/EEA Students' Visa Requirements

For non-EU/EEA students, navigating the visa requirements can be a bit of a puzzle. If your academic pursuits in Portugal are set to last less than 90 days, you'll need to secure a short-stay visa, also known as a Schengen Visa. This type of visa is suitable for short courses, language classes, or perhaps a part of a longer program abroad that you're attending in Portugal.

On the other hand, if your studies span beyond the 90-day mark, you'll need to apply for a Residence Visa for Studies. This is where things get a bit more intricate. Unlike the short-stay visa, the Residence Visa for Studies requires a more extensive list of documentation and a deeper dive into the bureaucratic process. It’s a vital step for those looking to engage in a full academic year or longer degree programs, and it's the key to unlocking a more extended stay in the beautiful country of Portugal.

It's important to note that traveling to Portugal without the appropriate visa is not an option. The consequences of such an oversight can range from being denied entry into the country to potential fines or even a ban from the Schengen area. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure all your paperwork is in order before embarking on your educational journey to Portugal.

Extending Your Stay Post-Study

Upon completing your studies in Portugal, you may wish to extend your stay. The Portugal student visa can serve as a stepping stone to transitioning to work visas if you secure a job offer after your studies, although the student visa alone does not lead to permanent residency. With a job offer, graduates can apply for a visa that allows them to work in Portugal, initially for one year, potentially extendable for two more years after maintaining employment.

After working in Portugal for three years, individuals typically have the opportunity to apply for permanent residence. If you’re interested in specific sectors like healthcare, education, and technology, you might find faster avenues for obtaining a work visa based on specific qualifications or urgent demand. Additionally, Portugal offers a job seeker visa that allows recent graduates to enter Portugal to look for work.

International students who come to study in Portugal on a short-stay student visa are given a six-month period following the completion of their studies to secure employment in their field of study.

Navigating Challenges and Visa Refusals

Like any journey, the visa application process may also have its hiccups. In case of a Portugal student visa refusal, you have the right to file a complaint within 15 days, according to Article 191 of the Administrative Procedure Code (CPA). You can also appeal against the visa refusal within three weeks of the refusal notification at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, based on Article 59 of the CPTA and Paragraph 2 of Article 193 of the CPA.

If you’re dissatisfied with the outcome of the initial appeal, you can bring an action to the Administrative Court in Lisbon within three weeks of the refusal notice. It’s worth mentioning that appealing to the Minister and filing a lawsuit at the Administrative Court can be done simultaneously, without the need to wait for the outcome of the initial appeal at the local city council office.

Although this process may seem overwhelming, remember that every challenge is a step closer to your goal.

Health Insurance and Medical Tests

The Portuguese student visa application process places great importance on health insurance and mandatory medical tests. Applicants are required to present documentation proving health insurance coverage. This insurance must provide a minimum coverage of EUR 30,000 and be valid in Portugal. Health insurance can be obtained from private insurance companies, or by registering with the Portuguese national health system for about €25 per month.

Even though there’s a social security agreement with Portugal, Brazilian students are advised to obtain private international health insurance due to certain limitations in the Portuguese national health scheme. A mandatory medical test is required before travelling to Portugal for a student visa, with applicants obligated to provide documentary proof of having undergone the test.

Life as a Student in Portugal

Being a student in Portugal offers a mix of academic challenge, cultural exploration, and personal development. Portuguese universities prioritize a practice-based learning approach that fosters resourcefulness and individual development. The academic environment is productive, with a significant increase in scientific output and patents in recent years. The positive rapport shared between students and faculty within Portuguese universities creates a supportive educational ambiance.

The strong connections students make with domestic and foreign businesses while they are studying improve their career prospects. Universities such as the University of Porto, ISCTE (University Institute of Lisbon), and the Catholic University of Portugal are recognized for their high alumni employment rates. The multicultural nature of university campuses, alongside a variety of student niches, supports the rich social tapestry of student life in Portugal. Volunteering initiatives are a prevalent medium for students to connect, exchange knowledge, and integrate into the wider community.

Applying to a Portuguese University and Securing Your Acceptance Letter

Embarking on the journey to study in Portugal begins with the crucial step of applying to a Portuguese university and obtaining your acceptance letter. This document is not just a ticket to your academic future; it's the cornerstone of your visa application process. To ensure a smooth transition into Portugal's educational system, you'll need to meticulously gather and submit several key documents.

When choosing the institution that will shape your academic journey, it's worth delving into what Portugal's universities have to offer. Consider factors such as the university's reputation, the quality of the programs offered, the faculty, campus facilities, and the overall student experience. You might also want to evaluate the cultural and social opportunities that surround each university, as these can enrich your time spent studying abroad.

Once you've decided on your preferred university, the next step is to complete the application process. This typically involves submitting your academic records, a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation, and any other requirements specified by the institution. It's a waiting game after your application is submitted, but once you receive the acceptance letter from the university, it's a cause for celebration and the starting point for the next phase—preparing your visa application.

Remember, the acceptance letter is a vital component of the visa process. It verifies your intent to study and validates your reason for traveling to Portugal. With this letter in hand, you're well on your way to embarking on an educational adventure in one of Europe's most historic and vibrant nations.

Language Requirements for Studying in Portugal

Navigating the language requirements for studying in Portugal is an important step in preparing for your educational journey. While Portuguese students naturally do not face any language barriers within their own country, international students have a different set of considerations. It is not mandatory for applicants to master Portuguese prior to their university acceptance; however, demonstrating language proficiency can be a significant part of the application process, depending on the course or program to which you are applying.

Most Portuguese universities offer a variety of programs taught in English, especially at the master's and doctoral levels. For these English-taught programs, applicants will typically need to provide evidence of English language proficiency. Acceptable language tests may include TOEFL, IELTS, or equivalent examinations, and the specific requirements can vary by institution and program.

Conversely, if you are applying for programs taught in Portuguese or if you wish to fully immerse yourself in the local culture and academic life, having a command of the Portuguese language is highly beneficial. Some universities may require proof of Portuguese language proficiency, which can be demonstrated through exams like the CAPLE (Certificado de Avaliação de Português Língua Estrangeira) or by completing a language course offered by the university itself.

In any case, possessing a working knowledge of Portuguese can greatly enhance your experience, not only academically but also in day-to-day interactions. It can be a valuable asset when submitting your application, as it shows a commitment to engaging with the academic community and adapting to life in Portugal. Moreover, it can open up additional opportunities for research, internships, and part-time work during your studies.

Types of Portuguese student visas

When embarking on your academic journey in Portugal, it's essential to know which student visa aligns with your educational pursuits. The student visa in Portugal is usually of three kinds, each tailored to different durations and types of study:

  1. Short-Stay Visa (Schengen Visa): This visa is ideal for short-term courses, like language classes or summer schools, that last for up to three months (90 days). It's perfect for those looking to dip their toes into the Portuguese educational system without committing to a full degree program.
  2. Temporary Stay Visa: If you're planning to engage in an academic or training program that spans between three and six months, this is the visa you'll need. It's designed for students involved in semester-long exchanges or short courses that exceed the typical Schengen Visa limit.
  3. Residence Visa for Studies (Long-Stay Visa): This is the most common visa for international students who are enrolled in full-time degree programs, such as bachelor's, master's, or doctoral studies. It's valid for the duration of the academic year and can be extended as needed to cover the entire length of your study program.

Each type of student visa requires specific documentation and adherence to various application processes. It's crucial to choose the right one to ensure a smooth and legal stay in Portugal for the entirety of your academic endeavors.

How Much Does the Portugal Student Visa Cost?

Understanding the costs associated with studying abroad is an essential part of the planning process, and the Portugal student visa is no exception. When you're gearing up to embark on your educational journey in Portugal, one of the first questions that might come to mind is: How much will the visa set me back?

The Portuguese Embassy or Consulate, where you submit your application, will charge a fee for the Portugal student visa. The standard fee for this visa is €170, which covers the administrative costs of processing your application. It's important to note that this fee is non-refundable, even if the visa application is ultimately denied.

In addition to the visa application fee, students should also be aware of the cost associated with obtaining a residence permit once in Portugal, which is necessary for stays longer than three months. This fee is approximately €155 and is paid locally within Portugal.

Keep in mind that these fees are subject to change and may vary depending on your country of origin or any bilateral agreements in place. It's always best to check with the nearest Portuguese Embassy or Consulate for the most up-to-date information on visa costs. Furthermore, these fees are separate from other expenses you may incur, such as tuition fees, living costs, and health insurance, all of which should be factored into your overall budget for studying in Portugal.

Higher Education in Portugal

Portugal’s diverse higher education system presents a myriad of opportunities. It consists of two main subsystems: university education, which offers licentiate, master’s, and doctoral degrees, and polytechnic education, which offers vocational and technical training. Portuguese universities are traditionally research-oriented, offering degrees in a wide range of fields, while polytechnics focus on applied sciences and have a more practical training approach.

Portugal hosts several prestigious universities recognized for their research and quality of education, such as:

  • University of Lisbon
  • University of Algarve
  • University of Beira Interior
  • University of Évora

These institutions add to the academic diversity in Portugal. The polytechnic institutes, specifically in Porto and Bragança, underline the practical and vocational focus of education in the country, preparing students for specific job markets.

Portugal’s higher education system is an attractive destination for academic pursuits due to its strong international collaborations in research and the global character of its academic communities.


In conclusion, studying in Portugal is an enriching experience, offering quality education, cultural immersion, and promising career prospects. However, it’s essential to understand the student visa process, from application to acquiring a residence permit. Knowing the costs involved, work permissions, and possibilities of extending your stay post-study can help you plan your academic journey better. Even if challenges arise, such as visa refusals, remember that there are procedures in place to navigate these hiccups. With the right preparation and information, your dream of studying in Portugal is just a few steps away!

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I get a student visa for Portugal?

To get a student visa for Portugal, you need to make an appointment through the SEF online services and prepare documents like a completed application form, a valid passport, passport photos, and proof of financial means.

Can I work in Portugal with a student visa?

Yes, you can work in Portugal with a student visa as long as you are enrolled in a full-time degree program or a course lasting for at least one academic year. During the academic year, you can work up to 20 hours per week, and full-time during scheduled breaks.

How long can I stay in Portugal with a student visa?

You can stay in Portugal for a maximum of three months (90 days) with a Schengen short-term student visa for purposes such as research projects, study, work training, or language courses.

What are the types of student visas available in Portugal?

Portugal offers different student visas based on the length and type of studies, catering to various academic aspirations and programs.

Can I bring my family along while studying in Portugal?

Yes, you can bring your dependent family members, including your spouse or registered/domestic partner, minor children, and dependent adult children with illness or disability, to Portugal under a student visa.

About Movingto

Movingto is a leading immigration law firm that specializes in helping individuals and families navigate the complex process of relocating to Portugal. With a team of experienced lawyers and immigration experts, provides tailored solutions to meet the unique needs of each client.

Why Choose Movingto?

  • Expertise and Experience: Our lawyers have extensive knowledge of Portuguese immigration law and years of experience assisting clients with various visa applications, including the D7 Visa, Golden Visa, Startup Visa, and Family Reunion Visa.
  • Personalized Approach: We understand that every client's situation is different. Our lawyers take the time to listen to your goals and provide personalized advice and guidance throughout the process.
  • Comprehensive Support: offers a comprehensive range of services beyond legal advice, including assistance with document preparation, property searches, and relocation planning.
  • Competitive Fees: We offer competitive fees and transparent pricing so that you know exactly what to expect.
  • Exceptional Client Service: Our team is committed to providing exceptional client service. We are responsive, attentive, and always available to answer your questions.

Whether you are an entrepreneur seeking to establish a business in Portugal, a retiree looking to enjoy the country's favorable tax regime, or a family seeking to reunite in Portugal, is here to guide you every step of the way.

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