Portugal Immigration Guide – Visa Options To Freely Circulate In Portugal

You’ve set your sights on Portugal. But how to actually move freely (and legally) within the country? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Read on to discover how Portugal immigration works and what type of visas you can apply for.

Portugal Immigration – Your Visa Options

Since Portugal is part of the European Union, Portugal immigration depends on your nationality, the purpose of your stay, and length of time in Portugal.

Naturally, holders of a European passport or EEA/Swiss nationals can easily enter Portugal by showing their identity cards. While EU citizens can freely move to Portugal if they intend to stay longer than three months they must request a registration certificate. EU citizens can also obtain a permanent residence certificate after five years of living in Portugal.

All other foreign nationals classified as ‘non-EU’ will need some form of a visa (unless their country has a special agreement with Portugal). Portuguese visas are processed by the Portuguese embassy or consulate in your country of residence, while the Portuguese Immigration Office called SEF is responsible for issuing Portuguese resident permits.

Non-EU citizens

The United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand all have international agreements with Portugal, meaning, nationals can enter and stay in Portugal for 90 days within a six-month period, without needing a visa. 

For non-EU/EFTA nationals who want to stay longer than three months, they must apply for a long-term visa or Portuguese residency visa before arriving. This gives them an extra opportunity to apply for a Portuguese residence permit after arrival.

People who fit into this category include:

  • Self-employed individuals or workers
  • Students
  • Passive income earners
  • Retirees
  • Family members

Portugal immigration – visa types 

Portugal visa requirements depend on your personal situation. Below we list the available visas on offer, including who they pertain to.

IMPORTANT NOTICE- Portugal entry restrictions due to COVID-19.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Portugal imposed an entry ban on third-country citizens, back in mid-March 2020. As the situation improves, Portugal immigration has lifted the entry ban for residents of Australia, China, Singapore, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand, Rwanda, Thailand, and Uruguay. 

Air travel to and from Portugal has been suspended for all flights to and from all non-EU/Schengen countries, except for essential travel. For more information, check out our coronavirus and Portugal Golden Visa updates.

Schengen short-stay visa

The Schengen short-stay visa is perfect for those who got the travel bug and want to move around freely within Europe’s Schengen zone. The visa is valid for 90 days out of a six-month period.

There are several types of Schengen visas to know about:

  • Airport transit visa (Visa A) – permits transit within the international area of an airport, from one flight to another. This visa is required for all passengers that change flights in a Schengen country airport unless exempted.
  • Transit and short-term stay visa (visa C) – issued for transit and short-term stays in the Schengen area. These visas are valid for a total of 90 days within a six-month period. The most typical types of short-stay visas are the Portuguese tourist visa and the business visa.
  • Limited Territorial Validity (LTV) visas – a special visa that allows travel to only one Schengen state, or to certain other Schengen states if specified beforehand. 

Temporary stay visa

The temporary stay visa gives individuals a four-month stay period with multiple entries. 

The temporary stay visa is granted for the following situations:

  • Medical treatment or to accompany a family member undergoing treatment
  • Transfer of workers between countries within the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to provide services or training
  • Temporary employment or self-employment
  • To conduct scientific research or teaching in a higher education institution
  • Pursue sports activity

Portuguese residency visa

The Portuguese residency visa is granted to individuals who are aiming for a more long-stay in Portugal.

It’s granted after arriving in Portugal for any of the following reasons:

  • Employed work
  • Self-employment or entrepreneurial activities
  • Scientific research or teaching
  • Study, student exchange, internship, or voluntary service
  • Higher education programs (for students already residing in Portugal who want to further their studies)
  • Family reunion
  • Pensioners and people with income.

The Portuguese residency visa can be issued as a multi-entry visa, allowing travel to other Schengen countries. Note that whatever Portuguese residency visa you receive, you must additionally apply for a residence permit upon entering Portugal.

Portugal online worker visa

Whether you need a Portugal online worker visa depends on your nationality and how long you’re going to be employed. There are several options on the table for non-EU nationals.

  • Short-term work visa- This applies to short-term work contracts lasting less than six months.It’s available to employees and self-employed workers. The temporary short-term work visa can be extended for a year.
  • Long-term Portugal online worker visa- This visa is necessary for non-EU nationals who want to work in Portugal long-term. It’s classified as a type D Schengen visa, enabling you to travel across the Schengen zone freely.

Portugal Visa Requirements

Regardless of what type of visa you’re applying for, you must submit a visa application form to the Portuguese embassy or consulate in your home country. You must download a Portuguese visa application form for the Schengen Area.

Portuguese visa processing time varies. It can take anywhere from two weeks up to two to three months, so start the Portuguese visa application process with these dates in mind.

The following documentation for Portugal visa requirements are needed:

  • Two passport photos
  • Your passport and copies of your previous visas
  • A copy of your return ticket reservation (depending on your nationality)
  • Travel insurance to cover you for the Schengen area
  • Cover letter stating the purpose of your visit and itinerary
  • Flight dates and times
  • Accommodation plans for the duration of your stay
  • Sufficient funds to last the duration of your stay
  • Proof of civil status
  • Proof of economic status
  • You may also be asked to show extra documentation regarding the nature of your visit. For example, if you’re a student, you’ll need to show proof of enrollment at a Portuguese institution. 

Getting residency in Portugal – Non-EU citizens

If your aim is to acquire long-term residency in Portugal as a non-EU citizen, you’ll be pleased to know there are several Portugal visa programs on offer, which we detail below.

D7 visa

The D7 visa is an attractive visa allowing non-EU citizens to get Portuguese residency provided they have enough funds to support themselves during their stay in Portugal.

This visa is geared toward retirees, self-employed individuals, and digital entrepreneurs who want to live in Portugal without having to commit to a major economic investment.

The D7 visa can then be renewed after one year for two successive periods of two years and can be turned into a permanent residence permit after five years. After five years of holding the D7 visa, you’ll also be able to request Portuguese nationality, provided you fulfill the other requirements as stipulated by Portuguese nationality law.

 For more information, check out our guide to the Portugal D7 visa .

Portugal Golden Visa

The Portugal Golden Visa Program, also known as the Residence Permit Program is a five-year residency-by-investment scheme for non-EU nationals.

The golden visa grants qualifying investors and their family members the right to live, work and study in Portugal and permits free movement in Europe’s Schengen Area. 

Opportunities to become a permanent resident or citizen are possible, provided that the qualifying investment is kept for at least five years, and that all requirements set forth by the Portuguese immigration and nationality laws are obeyed.

For more information, consult our ultimate guide to the Golden Visa Portugal.

Portugal permanent residency requirements

Residents who are from non-EU/EFTA countries can apply for Portuguese permanent residence after having lived in Portugal for five years. They must prove they’ve been in the country legally residing for the duration of the five-year period.

The Portugal permanent residency requirements are as follows:

  • Valid residence visa
  • Passport/travel ID
  • Two passport photographs
  • Proof of enough finances to support yourself
  • Proof of accommodation
  • Health insurance
  • Criminal record certificate
  • Proof of enrolment in social security and evidence of tax status
  • Proof of legal and uninterrupted residence in Portugal for the preceding five years
  • If you have been absent from Portugal for a lengthy period of time (more than three months) in this five year period, eg. for work reasons, you must supply proof of reason
  • Proof of basic proficiency in the Portuguese language, through a certificate of qualification or test at a language assessment center.

Portuguese citizenship

If you’re wondering how to effectively secure Portuguese citizenship and how to become an EU citizen, know that it’s a relatively straightforward process. If you apply through the Portugal Golden Visa scheme, you qualify for citizenship after six years, provided that you maintain your investment and respective residency during this period.

Get in touch with our Portugal immigration team

Global Citizen Solutions is a boutique consultancy firm with years of experience delivering bespoke residence and citizenship-by-investment solutions for international families. With offices worldwide and an experienced, hands-on team, we help clients from around the world acquire Portugal Golden Visas or homes and successfully relocate to Portugal. Contact us today so we can understand your objectives and help you move forward.

Frequently asked questions about Portugal immigration

How does Portugal immigration work for non-EU nationals?

Non-EU nationals must usually apply for a six-month visa to stay in Portugal legally. However, nationals from the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are eligible to enter Portugal and circulate freely for the first three months without a visa. However, afterward, they’ll need to apply for a visa.

How to become a permanent resident in Portugal?

You must live in Portugal for an uninterrupted time of five years to qualify for Portuguese permanent residency, as well as prepare all the necessary documentation and submit a test proving your Portuguese language proficiency. 

What Portugal visa lets me become a permanent resident?

Currently, you have two options for becoming a permanent resident. You can either apply for the D7 Visa scheme and renew your visa every two-year period until you hit the five year requirement for permanent residency, or alternatively, apply for Portugal’s Golden Visa scheme. This lets you live in Portugal provided you make a qualifying investment in the nation.

What is the Portugal Golden Visa?

  The Portugal Golden Visa is a residency by investment scheme that welcomes foreign investors to reside in Portugal legally, provided that a qualifying investment is made first.

How does getting residency in Portugal work?

To get residency in Portugal, you must first enter Portugal with a valid visa for the duration of your stay. Afterward, you must lodge your residence visa application with the local immigration authorities called SEF.

What are the Portugal residence visa requirements?

The Portugal residence visa requirements are as follows:

Valid residence visa.
Two passport photographs.
Proof of enough finances to sustain yourself.
Accommodation proof.
Health insurance.
Clean criminal record
Proof of enrolment in social security and evidence of tax status.