Immigrate to Portugal

Although complex, the Portuguese immigration system is one of the most flexible in Europe and also one of the few that allows you to achieve Portuguese nationality after 5 years of legal residence. The competent authority is the Foreign and Borders Service (SEF).

To determine which option is most appropriate when immigrating, it is necessary, in one hand, to reflect on the purpose or duration of immigration and on the other, assess what needs, as well as, the conditions inherent to the decision. The surrounding context of the company, person or family in question is equally relevant. Only in a second moment should the process be started.

Consequently, is relevant the distinction between:

  • European citizens or a member State to the European Economic Area (EEE) and also from a third State with which the European Community has concluded an agreement of free movement of persons
  • Nationals of Third States (Foreign Citizens) at European Union
  • Nationals of Third States that are:
    1. Family members of a European citizen or a citizen of a member State to the EEA and also of a third State with which the European Community has concluded an agreement on the free movement of persons
    2. Holders of residence permits issued by another Member State of the European Union
  • And also, Companies

European Citizens

Any citizen of a European Union country is also, automatically, European citizen. Union citizens are allowed to enter national territory simply by presenting a valid identity card or passport and without any entry visa or equivalent formality

Similarly, Union citizens also have the right to reside in the national territory for a period of up to three months without other conditions and formalities

On the other hand, any citizen of the Union also has the right to reside in Portugal for a period exceeding 3 months, that is, to immigrate, provided they meet one of the following conditions:

to) Carry out a professional activity in Portuguese territory

b) Alternatively, have enough resources for himself and family, as well as, health insurance

c) Be enrolled in a public or private educational establishment, officially recognized, if, proof of having sufficient financial resources for himself and family members and have health insurance

d) Or, is a family member accompanying or meeting a Union citizen covered by the preceding paragraphs

Nationals of Third States who are family members of a European citizen

Family members of European citizens who are not nationals of a Member State are admitted to the national territory by presenting a valid passport., However, they are subject to the entry visa requirement under the rules in force in the European Union

Similarly, family members of a European citizen who are third-country nationals and are subject to the entry visa requirement can enter without a visa when they have a valid residence card, in which case a passport entry stamp is not needed.

They also have the right to immigrate to Portugal and also to reside in Portuguese territory for a period exceeding 3 months, family members having the nationality of a third country that are accompanying or meeting a European citizen, if, fill the conditions of residence in Portugal

The death or departure from the national territory of a European citizen, as well as the divorce, annulment of the marriage or termination of the partnership, does not lead to the loss of the family members' right of residence, regardless of their nationality. When in this situation, and until they acquire the right of permanent residence, the referred family members must:

to) Exercise a subordinate or independent professional activity,
b) Have sufficient economic resources and health insurance or
c) Be family members of a person who fulfills the above conditions

Nationals of Third States who hold a residence permit issued by another Member State of the European Union


Holders of long-term resident status in another EU Member State.

A third-country national who has acquired the status of long-term resident in another member state and remains in national territory for a period exceeding 3 months have a right of residence. However, this right is subject to the exercise of an economic activity, attendance of a study program or professional training. Notwithstanding, , another reason may be given, if appropriate, , for the decision to immigrate


"EU Blue Card" holders in another Member State

A third-country national holding an 'EU blue card' who has resided at least 18 months as a holder of an 'EU Blue Card' in the Member State that granted it for the first time, can immigrate to Portugal for the purpose of exercising a highly qualified activity. Additionally, it is given the right to be accompanied by his family members who are also given the right to reside in the national territory.


Just like individuals, commercial companies can also immigrate, this is, change the country where the headquarter is located

Thus, companies wishing to transfer their headquarters from abroad to Portugal are not subject to extinction and subsequent re-incorporation. For this purpose, they must carry out with the document in which the transfer of the head office is declared and the conformity of the respective social contract with the Portuguese law

Further, residence permit is granted to holders, administrators, as well as, to employees of companies headquartered or with main or secondary establishment in the Member State of the European Economic Area, if, establish their headquarters or main or secondary establishment in Portugal. The same can be happen for States defined by order of the Portuguese Government members


Nationals of Third States (Foreign Citizens)

General Conditions of Entry into Portugal

In order to immigrate to Portugal, foreign citizens have to:

1. Hold a travel document (with higher validity, at least in 3 months to the intended stay) or be:

to) Nationals of States with which Portugal has international conventions that allow them to enter with an identity card or equivalent document

b) Covered by the relevant conventions between States under the North Atlantic Treaty

c) Holders of a laissez-passer issued by the authorities of the State of which they are nationals or of the State representing them

d) Holders of a flight license or a crew certificate under the terms of the International Civil Aviation Convention, when in service

and) Holders of the maritime identification document referred to in Convention no. 108 of International Labor Organization, when in service

f) Nationals of States with which Portugal has international conventions that allow them to enter only with the maritime registration card, when in service

2. But also, have a valid visa suitable for the purpose of the stay or immigration, which must be requested from a Portuguese diplomatic mission or consular post abroad, or be a citizen of Visa-free states, for stays up to 3 months, and biometric passport holders

Students who are nationals of non-member countries residing in the territory of the other member states of the European Union may temporarily enter and remain in national territory without a visa when traveling on a school trip organized by an educational institution.

3. As well as,, sufficient means of subsistence for the period of stay or alternatively statement of responsibility subscribed by a national or foreign citizen entitled to remain in Portuguese territory.

4. And finally, not be enrolled in Integrated Information System of SEF neither at Schengen Information System.

Types of visas

Airport Scale

It is valid for one or more Schengen States. Thus, allows its holder, when using an international connection, passing through an airport of a State

Short term

This visa is valid for one or more Schengen States. Consequently, allows its holder to enter Portuguese territory for purposes that do not justify the granting of another type of visa, namely for transit purposes, tourism, seasonal work for a period of less than or equal to 90 days, and still for visiting purposes. It also allows the accompaniment of family members who hold a temporary stay visa. The visa can be granted with a validity period of 1 year and for 1 or more entries. The duration of an uninterrupted stay, as well as, the total duration of successive stays may not exceed 90 days in each 180 days. This period is from the date of the first crossing of an external border

Temporary Stay

It is only intended for Portuguese territory, granted for the duration of the stay and is valid for multiple entries. Thus, allows entry and stay in national territory for less than 1 year for:

  • Medical treatment at officially recognized health facilities
  • Transfer of nationals of States under the World Trade Organization, in the context of the provision of services or professional training
  • Develop an independent professional activity
  • Conduct a scientific research activity in research centers, teaching activity in a higher education institution or a highly qualified activity
  • Perform an amateur sports activity, certified by the respective federation
  • Stay for periods longer than 3 months, in exceptional cases, duly substantiated, namely for frequency of study program, student exchange, unpaid or voluntary professional internship. It also allows the fulfillment of the commitments within the scope of the World Trade Organization and those resulting from international conventions and agreements
  • Accompany family subject to medical treatment
  • Provide seasonal work for more than 90 days
  • Attend course in educational or training establishment


Valid only for Portuguese territory and for 2 entries in Portugal. Further, entitles its holder to remain there for a period of 4 months. It is intended to allow its holder to enter Portuguese territory, and apply for a residence permit to immigrate to Portugal, namely for:

  1. Subordinate work or independent professional services
  2. Entrepreneurial immigrants
  3. Passive and retired income holders
  4. Ministers of worship and religious
  5. Academic education
  6. Highly qualified profession, exercised, or not, as subordinate worker
  7. Cultural activity or Academic and Scientific Research
  8. Study, Internship, Volunteering
  9. Exchange of secondary school students (higher education students residing in the territory of a Member State are exempt from residence visa)
  10. And also, for family reunification

Residence in Portugal

Residence in Portuguese territory presupposes the intention to remain in Portugal for a minimum period of 1 year. Consequently, this is the minimum period of stay for considering residence establishment

General rule, obtaining it takes place in two moments: First, starts with the respective application for a residence visa at a Portuguese representation abroad (consulate) that allows you to immigrate. Second, the processes is concluded by applying for a temporary residence permit, which must be presented to the Foreigners and Borders Service

There are exceptions where the residence permit can be obtained directly, that is, without prior obtaining a residence visa. In these cases, the decision and the process of immigrating is more agile

Thus, in Portugal there are different types of residence permit:

to) Temporary: General rule, is valid for the period of 1 year from the date of issue of the respective card and is renewable for successive periods of 2 years

b) Permanent: The permanent residence permit has no validity limit. The residence card must, however, be renewed from 5 out of 5 years or whenever there is a change in the identification elements registered in it

c) Long-Term Resident Status: Granted to those who legally reside, at least, five years in Portugal and allows its holders, among other rights, to move freely in European space and settle there