EU nationals who visit Portugal with the intention of finding employment or starting a business have up to six months to find a job and apply for a residence card. This can be done at the Foreigners’ Department (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras/SEF) of the Portuguese Ministry of Internal Affairs.
However, if you don’t have a regular income or adequate financial resources your application will be refused. To see what documentation must be provided to apply for residency, visit our 'Documentation' page.
Failure to apply for a residence card within the specified time is a serious offence and can result in a heavy fine and even deportation.
Non-EU nationals must obtain a residence visa from their home country. This entitles you to travel to Portugal to obtain your temporary residence permit.
There are three different types of residency visas for Portugal:
Type 1 - Permanent residency visa
You should apply for a type 1 visa if you are moving to Portugal for the one of the following reasons:
- independent living;
- independent business;
- pursuing investments;
- as an independent professional in your field.
Type 2 - Resettlement visa for relatives of Portuguese citizens
Those who are foreign relatives of a Portuguese citizen and who wish to transfer their permanent residence to Portugal should apply for a type 2 visa.
Type 3 - Resettlement visas for relatives of permanent residents of Portugal
If you are a family member of a non-Portuguese citizen who is established as a permanent resident in Portugal, you must apply for a type 3 visa.
Be aware of time
Timing is one of the most stressful aspects of applying for a visa. Compiling the required documentation can take several months, but you can only submit your application within three months of your desired moving date. Once you have your visa you must come to Portugal in order to convert it into a residence permit within four months.
Gain some control over the timing by applying for a criminal record certificate (item three under "Documentation") first, as this can take some time to clear (e.g. one to three months through the FBI if applying from the US). Meanwhile, if you complete your application form and assemble the rest of your documentation you’ll be ready to submit everything the minute you receive your criminal record certificate.
Golden visa programme
An alternative to the standard process, however, exists in the form of the ‘Golden Visa Program’. Portugal recently joined many other countries in offering the option of ‘selling’ residency and citizenship. The 'Golden Visa' leads to the acquirement of a residence permit and provides all the benefits of being an EU resident. You are, however, required to show evidence of a qualifying investment in Portugal, such as:
- transferring funds of 1,000,000€ or more;
- the creation of a minimum of 10 jobs;
- or, acquiring property valued at 500,000€.
If you are not lucky enough to meet any of the above requirements, see our "Application process" page now.
This article was written by Susan Stults Korthase