Are you thinking of working and settling in Portugal? Do you want to know more about the required documents for the work visa process?
In this article, we will provide you with all the information you need to know about the Portugal work visa, the residence permit you need to work in Portugal, the difference between long and short-term stays, and how to start the process of applying for the Portugal work visa.
Many expats have been flocking to Europe recently, and Portugal has its fair share, not least because it is one of the most welcoming and affordable European countries for living and working in. In the following section, you will find everything you’ll need to know about working in Portugal, and you can also check out this article to know more about the cost of living in Portugal.
Do I need a visa to work in Portugal?
If you already secured a job in Portugal, you should be aware of all the following information to start the legal process, which can take some time. If you’re still searching for a job opportunity you can have a look at this guide to finding a job in Portugal.
If you’re a citizen from the EU, EEA, or Switzerland, you can start right away, because you won’t need a Portugal work visa to come to the country and receive your job. However, if you’re staying more than 90 days you will need a Residence Certificate (Certificado de Registo) that will be filled out according to the Freguesia that is closest to your residence in Portugal. The cost of this certificate is around €15.
For non-EU citizens, the process is a bit different and there will be more steps to the process when moving to Portugal.
Once you get accepted into your new job in Portugal and receive your job offer, you will be eligible to start the process of getting a Portugal work visa. This type of visa is valid only for non-EU citizens who landed a job in Portugal or are married to Portuguese citizens. When your request for a work visa in Portugal gets approved, you will be able to continue the process of obtaining a residence permit when you finally arrive in Portugal.
After five years of living legally and working in Portugal, you will be able to apply for permanent residency and then you’ll be able to apply for Portuguese citizenship and enjoy the benefits of obtaining a Portuguese passport., as long as you fulfill all the requirements. If you want to know more about the countries that you will be able to visit without a visa once you obtain a Portuguese passport, you can check our Portugal visa-free list of countries.
Portugal Work Visa requirements
Once you get hired, your employer should take the first step in the visa process by applying for your work permit to the Portuguese Labor Authorities (Autorização de Trabalho).
When the job contract gets approved by the authorities, then it will be your turn to apply for a Portuguese work visa from the Portuguese embassy in your country to enter Portugal. Your visa validation will depend on your nationality and your work contract, and you need to be in Portugal within this validation period.
If your work contract is longer than six months, this means that you will have to apply for a residency permit before your visa ends to be able to continue living and working in Portugal legally. You should know that the type of the Portuguese residency permit will differ according to the basis of your job contract.
Here are the documents you will need to prepare before going to the Portuguese embassy and applying for the Portuguese work visa according to the Portuguese Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF):
- A valid passport.
- Passport-size pictures, following Schengen visa picture guidelines.
- Proof of sufficient funds to sustain yourself.
- Your criminal records from your country of residence. If you have lived in another country for more than one year, you have to get criminal records from there as well.
- A document giving permission to SEF to check your Portuguese criminal records.
- Proof of health insurance.
- Proof of accommodation in Portugal.
- Your employment contract.
- If you are already in Portugal: Proof of legal entry into Portuguese territories, such as a visa.
- If you are applying from a country other than that of your origin: Proof of legal stays, such as a residence permit or a visa.
Note the following:
- All the documents you’re submitting need to be either in English or Portuguese and, if not, you will need to have them translated by an authorized translator.
- Certain documents, such as diplomas or civil documents, may have to be legalized. You can legalize documents through an Apostille Stamp or through the Portuguese Embassy in your country.
As an employee, you will be legally living and working in Portugal. The standard validation period of your residency permit is one year, and after that, it gets renewed as long as you’re still working in Portugal.
Renewal can be done online through the SEF website, and after five years of residency, you will be able to apply for Portuguese permanent residency, after which you can apply for Portuguese citizenship and a Portuguese passport. Check out article 80 and all the needed information about the Portuguese Permanent Residency Permit.
Permits for highly skilled migrants and researchers
Portugal offers special visa schemes for highly-skilled employees, and there is a specific residence permit for scientific researchers, academic teachers, and workers in highly qualified professional activities. The permit is valid for one year and can also be renewed for up to five years, after which the holder can apply for permanent Portuguese residence.
Third-country nationals pursuing skilled employment in Portugal can contact the Portuguese National Academic Recognition Information Centre (NARIC). They provide information on getting foreign qualifications and certificates recognized and accepted in Portugal.
EU Blue Card
The Blue Card scheme gives you the same benefits as the Portugal work visa and the Portuguese residency and is applicable for highly qualified employees from non-EU countries. You can apply for the EU Blue Card if the following conditions apply to you:
1- You have high qualifications.
2- You are a paid employee with a work contract or binding job offer in an EU country for at least one year.
3- You have a gross annual salary at least one and a half times the national average of the country. Check out the minimum wages and average salaries in Portugal.
EU Blue Cards are valid for between one and four years and allow non-EU nationals to work in EU member states (excluding Denmark and Ireland). A Blue Card holder who has been living in Portugal for 18 months can apply for a residence permit for researchers or highly-skilled migrants.
Golden residence for business investors
The Portugal Golden Visa Program, also known as the Residence Permit Program is a five-year residency-by-investment scheme for non-EU nationals. It’s part of Portugal’s immigration move to welcome investors into the country. This visa scheme speeds up the process for non-EU investors to get a Portuguese residence permit if they make a qualifying investment in the country.
The following article may be of interest to you if you want to know more about the program: Portuguese Golden Visa Scheme: Global Citizen Solutions Guide.
Self-employed workers in Portugal
Finding a freelance job and being a self-employed person in Portugal is highly recommended because you’ll find a lot of opportunities and enjoy many benefits.
Imagine yourself living in a sunny country with amazing views and beautiful beaches, while at the same time having the luxury of working anywhere and on your own work schedule.
Non-EU/EFTA residents who want to set up a small business or work remotely in Portugal will go through the same process to get a Portuguese resident visa as employees. However, the Residence Permit you will be granted is specific to self-employed workers, requiring extra documentation related to your business activities and business or self-employment registration with the tax office.
Training and volunteer work in Portugal
For those aged between 17 and 30 years old, you can find some volunteer programs at the European Voluntary Service (EVS), where you work abroad for up to 12 months in exchange for board, food, insurance, and a small allowance. Concordia is another organization for volunteer opportunities. For holiday volunteering opportunities, check Workaway.
Third-country nationals undertaking unpaid training placements or volunteer work can apply for a special Portuguese Residence Permit. Upon completion of training, students are entitled to work in Portugal on an employment contract, subject to an application for a change in Residence Permit authorized by the SEF.
A Residence Permit for volunteers is valid for one year, except for circumstances where a volunteering program lasts longer than one year and is not renewable.
Students working in Portugal
Non-EU students will need a Portuguese student permit to be able to work in Portugal while studying. They can also carry out research work in Portugal, can teach, or partake in highly qualified professional activities if they meet the necessary criteria.
How to Apply for a Portugal Work Visa?
As stated above, to apply for the Portugal Work Visa, you will first need to find a job, be accepted, and sign a job contract. Then you will need to apply for a work visa to be able to enter the country, which is divided into three steps:
Step 1: Your employer applies for your work permit.
Step 2: You apply for a Portugal Work Visa at the Portuguese embassy in your country.
Step 3: Applying for a Portuguese Residence Permit.
Now we will break those three steps down to provide you with more detailed information so that you are well-prepared and have all the required paperwork.
Step 1: Work permit application
Once you get the job, accept the job offer, and sign your contract, your employer should apply for your work permit through the Portuguese Labor Authorities (Autorização de Trabalho) and Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras – SEF) on your behalf. The following documents must be submitted in this step:
1- The employment contract.
2- Company tax statements.
3- Proof of having registered with Social Security.
4- Proof that an EU/EEA/Swiss citizen could not have filled the position.
Step 2: Work Visa application
With the previous step completed, and once the work permit gets approved by the authorities, the second step of the process is where you will need to submit your documents to the Portuguese embassy in your country to get the work visa. Once you obtain this work visa you will be able to enter legally and start working in less than six months. During this time, you will need to apply for a Residence Permit.
Before going to the Portuguese embassy make sure of the following:
1- Prepare all the required documents as mentioned above.
2- Find the location of the nearest embassy.
3- Make an appointment by calling or emailing.
4- Take all the necessary documents with you and make sure that you have translated them into English or Portuguese. In some cases, the applicant may have a visa interview.
Step 3: Residence Permit application
This step will be less stressful than the previous ones. You already landed the job, got the work permit, obtained your work visa, and even traveled to Portugal safe and sound. Now it’s time to start applying for the Residence Permit if you’re considering staying longer in Portugal. You will need to register for a social security number, a tax number (NIF), and a residence permit.
Types of Portuguese Work Visas
The type of Portuguese work visa that you will need will depend on your nationality and the length of your work contract. There are mainly two types of work visas available for non-EU citizens.
Short-term Portuguese work visa
This type of short-term visa is required for temporary contracts that last less than six months for employees and self-employed workers, subject to an evaluation by the labor authority (IEFP). It’s possible to extend this short-term visa up to one year if you are engaged in scientific research, academic teaching, highly qualified professional activities, or certain training and service provisions provided by members of World Trade Organization countries.
If you are visiting Portugal on a short stay for business purposes, you can apply for a Portuguese business visa.
Long-term Portuguese work visa
For non-EU citizens who get a long-term contract and will be living and working in Portugal for more than six months, you will need to get a long-term work visa (Type D). With the fact that Portugal is part of the Schengen area, once you obtain the long-term visa you will have access across the 26 Schengen area countries. Upon arrival, you will have to start the residence permit process as stated before.
If you are a non-EU citizen considering relocating to Portugal with your own funding, you may want to check the D7 VIsa scheme.
Processing time for a Portuguese Work Visa
The process for a Portuguese work visa may take some time, so you need to be patient because it’s very different from applying for a tourism visa or any other type of visa. You may wait for several months before your work visa application is finalized; it can take up to 60 days for SEF to process the work permit application and two to three months for the Embassy to issue an entry visa. That doesn’t necessarily happen in all cases, however, and your visa could be processed quicker depending on your specific circumstances.
You should also know that the embassy may call you anytime and ask for more documents before finalizing your work visa, so always be prepared.
Work Visa fees
There is more than one fee you have to pay when applying for a work visa.
- Cost of the entry visa issued by the Portuguese Embassy – €90 (may be subject to change from country to country)
- To submit the application for a residence permit at SEF – €83
- To receive the residence permit from SEF – €72
We advise you to check the exact fees on the website of the Portuguese embassy in your country. And also make sure to check if they accept money in cash or if you can pay with a credit card, to avoid any surprises on the submission day.
Frequently asked questions about the Portugal Work Visa:
How do I get a work visa for Portugal?
Firstly, you need to land a job in Portugal, and go through the hiring and interviewing process. Once you are accepted and your contract is signed, your employer can start applying for a work permit on your behalf to the Portuguese Labor Authorities. When your work permit is approved, now you can apply for a Portugal work visa at the Portuguese embassy in your country.
Is Portugal issuing work visas?
Yes. And there are two types of Portugal work visas, short-term and long-term work visas, depending on your nationality and the type of your work contract.
Is it easy to get a job in Portugal?
What Is the Duration of a Work Visa?
When you apply for a work visa, you will receive a residence permit which allows you to live and work in Portugal for one to two years. After 1-2 years, you can renew this permit at SEF before it expires, as long as you still have a job offer from your employer. Five years later, you can apply for permanent residency.
Does a Work Visa lead to permanent residency in Portugal?
Yes. After living and working in Portugal for five years with your temporary visa, you will be eligible for a permanent residence permit.
Does a Work Visa lead to Portuguese citizenship?
Yes. When you obtain your work visa, and once you enter the country, you will be able to apply for a temporary residence permit. After five years of your stay in Portugal, you can obtain a permanent residence permit. Once you have the permanent residence permit you can start the process of applying for Portuguese citizenship.
Can I work in Portugal as an international student?
Yes, international students are allowed to work in Portugal. The permitted hours of work depend on your nationality:
- If you have EU/EEA/Swiss nationality: You can work without any restrictions on a time limit.
- If you do not have EU/EEA/Swiss nationality: You can only work for up to 20 hours/week (part-time) during the semester. During semester breaks or holidays, you may work full time.
Can I work in Portugal if I have a family visa?
Yes, if you are joining a family member who lives in Portugal, then you are allowed to work and study in the country. You may have to seek authorization for work, however, so you should contact SEF.