Portugal is one of the most beautiful and affordable Western European countries. Alongside its charming nature and amazing coastal views, the Portuguese higher education system is excellent.

If you’re considering studying in Portugal, this guide is for you. Below, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know about the Portugal Student Visa, including the required documents, residence permit information, and how to apply for it.

Studying in Portugal

lisboa portugal cityThe first edition of the QS Higher Education System Strength Rankings ranked Portugal’s higher education system 35th best in the world. Portugal applies the standards of the European Bologna System, which means that continuing your studies in Portugal could be a good decision.

If you decide to study in Portugal, you can apply to one of the 14 Portuguese universities for university education or target non-university higher education (polytechnic education). Both of the options are considered higher education, but universities are more focused on research, while polytechnics are more focused on technical specialization.

If you’ve already applied and have been accepted into a polytechnic or university degree course in Portugal, now it’s time to learn more about the paperwork and the Portugal Student Visa process.

You should know that the earlier you apply, the faster you get your student visa and will be able to travel and begin your courses. So, read carefully and make sure that you are well prepared.

The process of applying for a student visa starts with the acceptance letter that you will receive from the university or the institute you applied to. In case you are still in the early phase of deciding which option is best for you and haven’t made up your mind yet on which university you want to join, you can dive into more detail on the universities in Portugal.

After deciding on and applying for your chosen university, you wait for the acceptance letter from the university to be included in your documents. This letter is the core of the whole process, and without it, you won’t be able to apply for a Portugal Student Visa.

Do I need a visa to study in Portugal?

Whether you need a visa to study in Portugal depends on your nationality and the duration of your studies. If you’re from an EU/EEA country or Switzerland, you generally don’t need a visa to study in Portugal. However, if you’re from a non-EU/EEA country, you’ll likely need to apply for a student visa if your course of study exceeds 90 days.

Types of Portugal Student Visas

International students should take note that there is a variety of Portugal student visas, and it’s important to know which type matches the course you applied to. The type of Portuguese student visa you will need depends on your nationality and the duration of the course you choose.

Types of student visas regarding your nationality:

  • For EU/EEA/Swiss citizens, a student visa to study in Portugal is not required, but you will have to register your stay with the local authorities.
  • International students from many countries, such as the US, Australia, and Canada, can enter Portugal with just their passport for up to three months, during which time they can even take a short study course.
  • For non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens, a student visa is required only for nationalities who typically need a Portugal Schengen visa. If your study requires a long stay, you will also need a residence permit.

Portugal student visas for non-EU citizens:

  • Short-term student visa (Type C): This is a short-stay visa for non-EU citizens who plan to undertake a course or a research project in Portugal for less than 90 days.
  • Long-term student visa (Type D): This is a long-stay visa for international students and researchers undertaking studies or research projects in Portugal for longer than 90 days.

Applying for the long-term student visa (Type D) requires non-EU students to apply for a residence permit once they arrive in Portugal. This permit is valid for one year. After a year, residence permits can be renewed for up to five years at your local AIMA (formerly SEF) office.

Where to Apply for the Student Visa

student visa

You need to apply for your Portuguese student visa at your nearest Portuguese Embassy or Portuguese Consulate in your home country. You can find this information by visiting the website of the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Once you have this information, contact the embassy via phone, email or book an appointment to gather information. Important questions to ask include:

  • Does this course need a student visa?
  • Which type of visa should I apply for?
  • What are the required documents for this visa?
  • How long does it usually take to get the visa?

Once you have this information, you can proceed with gathering the necessary documents to start the application process. When you have submitted what is required, this should speed up your student visa process.

It’s important to note that the Portuguese Embassy may contact you for more documents, which may delay the issuance of your visa. Therefore, ensure that you have enough time to complete your visa application before your semester starts.

Portugal Student Visa Requirements

The required visa application paperwork may vary a little according to the Portuguese Embassy in your home country, but the following are the primary and most commonly requested:

  • Letter of acceptance from the university/polytechnic you applied to
  • A valid passport (or travel document) that expires at least three months after your return home, with at least one blank visa page
  • Two passport-size pictures, taken recently. They must follow Schengen picture guidelines
  • A completed application form according to your visa type
  • Proof of financial resources to support yourself during your stay in Portugal
  • One colored passport photograph
  • Proof that you paid the application fee which may cost up to 170 EUR
  • Proof of Schengen travel insurance that includes health insurance
  • A valid travel ticket or confirmed reservation to Portugal
  • Confirmed accommodation arrangements. This can be a rental contract, accommodation from your university (dormitories), or a letter of invitation from a family member/friend with whom you will live in Portugal.
  • A criminal record certificate

Health insurance for international students

Part of your visa application is to produce proof that you’re covered by health insurance. The legislation is dependent on your country of origin.

  • Non-EU/EEA students – Must purchase private health insurance before arriving in Portugal to qualify for a student visa.
  • Brazil—Brazilian students have basic coverage from the Portuguese national health scheme. However, it is recommended that they purchase full coverage in the event of an emergency.
  • EU/EEA – Students can utilize their European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) for medical coverage but travel insurance is still a requirement.

Language Requirements for Studying in Portugal

For international students to acquire their relevant visas, there won’t be language specifications or requirements. However, prior to applying at your university of choice, there will be language requirements and proof of proficiency before you can enrol.

According to the department, the course or the research you’re applying for the language requirements will differ. If you’re applying for English-taught programs at a Portuguese university, this will require language proof that you passed one of the language tests:

  • C1 Advanced

While it’s not a requirement, it will be a plus and very impressive point to mention when submitting your documents whether you know how to speak Portuguese, at least on a conversational level.

This will also benefit you while living in the country and interacting with your Portuguese colleagues.  However, Portuguese locals, in general, are well versed in English, particularly younger people, so you should not have too many problems getting around if you do not speak the language.

Portuguese Student Visa Applications Tips

In order to get your Portuguese student visa as quickly as possible, there are some tips you should consider while preparing yourself:

  1. Visit the Portuguese Embassy’s website in your country and schedule your appointment.
  2. While scheduling the appointment, try to choose the earliest available timing. The visa process may take up to two or three months to be issued, so the earlier you start the process the better.
  3. Organize your documents according to the Portuguese Embassy’s requirements and double-check that you have copies of your documents for emergencies.
  4. You may have a visa interview during the process, so be prepared and always pay attention to your email and phone because the Portuguese Embassy might call you anytime.
  5. In some cases, you may need to meet some health requirements, such as vaccinations and recovery certificates.

In addition, ensure that you have a valid passport that won’t expire while you’re in Portugal.

Discover a world of possibilities: Explore all the Portugal Visa Programs

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Working in Portugal as an International Student

As an EU/EEA/Swiss student, you are allowed to work while studying without any restrictions or working hours limits. Unfortunately, the case is not the same for non-EU/EEA students.

Students from outside the EU/EEA can take up part-time employment (up to 20 hours/week) or full-time employment, only during semester breaks and holidays. This is only applicable to students who have a residency permit and who are staying more than 90 days.

International students that are enrolled in a short course (up to three months), and only have a Schengen visa, are not allowed to work.

Portugal Residence Card Application Conditions

canada start up visaAs stated above, all students who registered for long courses with a duration of more than 90 days will have to apply for a residence card (Autorização de Residência) within four months of their arrival in Portugal at a local city council office.

This is not a complicated step as compared to the previous ones. You will just need to make an appointment through AIMA (the Portuguese immigration authority) and prepare the following documents:

  • A completed student visa application form
  • Valid passport plus one photocopy
  • Two identical and recent passport photos
  • Proof that you have the financial means to support yourself in Portugal
  • Proof that you have adequate accommodation in Portugal
  • Proof that you have medical insurance
  • Proof of registration at a Portuguese higher education institution
  • Proof that you’ve paid any applicable tuition fees

Alternative Visas for Relocating to Portugal

The Portuguese student visa doesn’t lead to a permanent residency unless you get a job offer as a highly-skilled worker. If this is the case, you would need to switch to a temporary residence permit for work (Portugal work visa) and produce an employment contract.

If you intend to return to Portugal after your studies, there are some other visa programs that may lead to a residence permit and then to Portuguese citizenship, such as the Portugal Golden Visa and the Portugal D7 Visa. You can also check out our Portugal immigration guide, where you can get more information on the Digital Nomad Visa (D8), the NHR – Non Habitual Tax regime, and the importance of the NIF (Tax Registration Number).

Alternatively, if you have Portuguese ancestry, you might be eligible for Citizenship by descent.

Frequently Asked Questions about Portuguese Student Visas

Is a Portugal Student Visa easy to get?

The easiest Portuguese student visa to get is the short stay version, which is valid for three months.

The long stay version of the visa, which is typically valid for a year but is renewable for up to five years, is also fairly straightforward to get. The acceptance rate for this visa is estimated to be between 70 and 80 percent.

To ensure that you have the best possible chance of getting your Portuguese student visa application accepted, make sure you provide all the required documents and fill out all information accurately and thoroughly.

Can I work in Portugal with a student visa?

This depends on the type of student visa you have. With a student residence permit, you can work for up to 20 hours per week during term time. EU/EEA or Swiss students are allowed to work without restrictions.

Non-EU/EEA students can only take up work during semester breaks or holidays, provided that they have a residency permit.

International students that only have a Schengen visa are not allowed to work.

How much does a Portugal Student Visa cost?

The visa application fee varies between the short stay student visa(€75) and and the long stay visa (€90). This is a non-refundable fee even in the event of a visa refusal.

How long is the Student Visa for Portugal?

There are two options for Portuguese student visas. The short-stay student visa is valid for three months (90 days). It can only be renewed in exceptional circumstances.

The long-stay student visa is usually valid for a year initially. It can be renewed for up to five years provided that you continue to study in Portugal.

What is the Portugal Student Visa processing time?

The processing time for a Portugal Student Visa varies depending on your country of residence. Typically, it takes two or three months to process these visa applications.

What bank balance is required for Portugal Student Visa?

To apply for the Portuguese Student Visa, you must demonstrate means of financial resources that you can use during your stay. As a general guideline, it’s advisable to have a bank balance that guarantees you have between €45 and €75 for every day that you intend to spend in Portugal.

How do I get a student residence permit in Portugal?

You should apply for a Portuguese residence permit within three months of your arrival in Portugal with the student visa. The appointment date is usually stated on your visa. If it’s not, you should call AIMA (the Portuguese immigration authorities) to schedule your appointment.

What happens if my student visa for Portugal is denied?

Visas are not guaranteed. If your visa is denied, you can appeal the decision within 15 days to the Portuguese Embassy you applied. There are many reasons why an application can be denied, that’s why it’s imperative to ensure your documentation is complete and legitimate before submitting. For further assistance, contact a representative for more information.

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