StartUp Visa and Tech Visa in Portugal

Apart from the Golden Visa, there are two other opportunities for residency in Portugal: StartUp Visa and Tech Visa. The purpose of both these programs is to strengthen the tech ecosystem across Portugal.

In this guide, we’ll take a look at each of these routes, their eligibility criteria, requirements, and benefits to help you make the right decision.

Concept of investors, entrepreneurs and highly skilled professionals immigrating to Portugal

What is Portugal StartUp Visa?

StartUp Visa program is designed for overseas entrepreneurs who plan to create an entrepreneurial and/or innovative business in Portugal. It intends to allow the grant of visas or residence approval to these foreign entrepreneurs.

This program was initially announced in October 2016 and has been enforced since March 2017. It focuses on businesspersons from outside the EU, including those who already own a business in their country as well as those who are just planning to launch a startup in Portugal.

StartUp Visa program was introduced to fortify the innovation ecosystem of the country and to sustain its positioning as a nation that supports entrepreneurship and people who have knowledge and capability for innovation.

Who is Eligible for the Portugal StartUp Visa?

Young entrepreneurs from all across the globe who wish to start a ground-breaking venture in Portugal can apply for this program. This way, they can get quick access to Portugal’s residence visa just by creating a new startup or moving their existing company to the country.

In order to apply for this visa, you need to have a solid business and financial plan that demonstrates how your startup has strong potential to generate qualified employment in Portugal. Moreover, you should be able to earn annual revenue of at least €325,000 after 5 years.

The applications are open all year round and the success of your application will depend on your company’s degree of innovation, the capacity of the management team, potential for the market, and the possibility of creating jobs in the country.

Benefits of StartUp Visa in Portugal

Portugal has a conducive business environment and investors in the tech sector can explore the opportunities and advantages offered by this visa program. Qualified investors can also opt to apply for Portuguese citizenship if they’ve lived sufficiently long in Portugal.

Some key advantages of this visa program are:

  • Quick access to Portugal’s residence permit for overseas investors from non-EU countries
  • No prerequisite for language, residency, or business performance
  • Option to live or travel (with no visa requirement) freely within the Schengen area
  • Option to apply for the Non-habitual Residents Regime (RNH) and to take advantage of its favorable tax rules
  • Possibility to apply for Portugal’s nationality after five years
  • Option of family reunification (spouse, minor children, and 18+ years old children and parents who monetarily depend on the candidate)

Portugal StartUp Visa Requirements

The StartUp Visa is available to businesspersons who are over 18 years old and fulfill the following requirements:

  • Plan to create a new startup in Portugal or to set up a division of an existing foreign business in the country
  • Don’t live permanently in the Schengen area
  • Don’t have a criminal background
  • Have a minimum of €5146.08 in a personal bank account for at least one year (per individual)

Some other requirements are:

  • Acquiring the assurance of a government-supported business incubator in Portugal partnered to R&D facilities
  • Undertaking a 3-year incubation term

Portugal StartUp Visa Process

  1. Submit preliminary documents including a comprehensive resume, copy of passport copy, and elementary startup idea. Applications can be submitted in Portuguese or English via an online form.
  2. Have a video call with the incubator in Portugal.
  3. A Term Sheet is issued by the incubator.
  4. Fulfill all documentation requirements and submit incubation fee to secured Escrow Account.
  5. Submit the application to the relevant authority (with interview at the Consulate after approximately fifteen business days)
  6. After almost ninety days, landing in Portugal to meet the local authorities and issuance of the residence permit
  7. Contact the incubator and governmentally-supported R&D facilities for the incorporation and strategic planning.
  8. The candidate is obligated to visit the country again at every Residence Permit renewal afterward.

What is Portugal Tech Visa?

Launched on January 1, 2019, the Portugal Tech Visa is a certification program intended for businesses that wish to attract highly competent and expert professionals to Portugal, people who do not live in the Schengen area. Under this program, IAPMEI is responsible for the appraisal and certification of organizations.

Overseas organizations have a maximum ceiling of 50% of employees hired through this program, whereas local organizations have a ceiling of 80%. Furthermore, there is a minimum compulsory wage for employees hired through Portugal Tech Visa.

Who is Eligible for the Portugal Tech Visa?

This visa program allows overseas startup companies registered in Portugal to bring employees from other countries. The list of certified companies can be found here.

This program is open for all highly skilled third-country citizens who don’t reside permanently in the EU and have a minimum level VI qualification in accordance with ISCED-2011 or have a qualification level V (tertiary), with at least 5 years of specialized experience.

Benefits of Tech Visa in Portugal

Portugal Tech Visa is useful and efficient to grant residence visas to Non-EU highly skilled professionals in the tech field. At the same time, it streamlines the process of employing highly capable employees from outside the EU. It benefits technology and innovative businesses established in Portugal by allowing them to recruit talent outside the EU region.

Some other benefits of this program are:

  • Option to apply for the Non-habitual Residents Regime (RNH) and to take advantage of its favorable tax rules
  • Option of family reunification (spouse, minor children, 18+ years old children who are still studying and are monetarily dependent on the candidate, and parents who are monetarily dependent on the candidate)
  • No tax on the capital
  • No requirement of the minimum investment amount
  • Option to apply for a permanent residency visa or citizenship (after living in the country for at least 5 years and complying with other requirements)

Portugal Tech Visa Requirements

To apply for Portugal Tech Visa, an individual has to adhere to all highly skilled workers requirements including:

  • National of a third country who does not live permanently on the EU territory
  • Fulfills all tax requirements, when applicable
  • Doesn’t have any criminal record
  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must have successfully completed Bachelor’s degree or equivalent (level 6), in accordance with ISCED-2011, or level 5 (tertiary level education) with 5-year experience in specific technical roles
  • Proficiency in Portuguese, French, English, or Spanish, depending on the responsibilities to be fulfilled.

Portugal Tech Visa Process

Companies can apply online (in Portuguese only) for a Tech Visa certificate.

To apply for this program, companies have to follow a set of requirements, and employees wanting to be hired will have to fulfill eligibility criteria defined in the law.

These skilled employees are handed out a term of responsibility, which is one of the essential documents in the process of providing visas and granting residence permits, which is thereby accelerated.

IAPMEI holds the responsibility of the company’s certification process, which also involves consular services (that issue visas) and the Aliens and Borders Service (that issues residence permits). The certification of the company is valid for two years and can be renewed for equal periods.

Portugal Tech & StartUp Visa vs. Portugal Golden Visa

The Tech Visa is a natural progression of the StartUp Visa as after the government attracts foreign businesses into the country (and, as a result, into the European Union), it seems logical to offer opportunities to those businesses to bring more skilled individuals to work with them as well.

Therefore, the StartUp Visa is the first step to move or launch a company in Portugal and the second step is to apply for the Tech Visa to ensure you have the best possible pool of talent accessible, particularly from outside of the EU.

On the other hand, Portugal Golden Visa is a national program designed for investors and people with high net worth from outside the EU wanting to live and invest in the country. Through this program, foreign individuals can apply for a residence visa for investment purposes by purchasing properties, conducting capital transfers, or creating jobs in Portugal.

Recipients of the Golden Visa are entitled to the following main benefits:

  • Live and work in Portugal
  • Family reunification in Portugal
  • Travel freely (with no visa requirement) across the Schengen Area
  • Apply for permanent residence (green card) and naturalization (Portuguese citizenship)

FAQs About StartUp Visa in Portugal

1. How much is the StartUp Visa incubation fee?

The incubation fee is €175,000, out of which €25,000 are used as share’s capitalization in the local startup and will pay for the company’s required services.

2. How long is the incubation period?

The incubation has a 3-year duration, starting from the approval of the candidate’s Residence Permit application. In case of denial, the incubation will not begin and the incubation fees will be returned to the candidate.

3. How many members per project can apply for the StartUp Visa program?

Typically, StartUp Visa allows up to 5 entrepreneurs per project.

4. Can one entrepreneur apply for the StartUp Visa with multiple projects?

No. An entrepreneur should apply for one project at a time.

5. When should the startup company be set up in Portugal?

The startup company should be set up during the incubation contract and must be established at the end of this contract.

FAQs About Tech Visa in Portugal

1. What documents are needed to apply for the Tech Visa program?

You need the following documents to apply for this visa program:

  • Two recent, colored photographs with a blank background
  • Proof that the candidate has suitable accommodation
  • Passport or any other valid travel document
  • Authorization for SEF to check local criminal record

2. What companies can apply for the Tech Visa program?

Companies in Portugal seeking to enroll in the Tech Visa program will be assessed and selected keeping in view the following conditions:

  • The company should be legally constituted, not having Social Security and Tax Authorities debts
  • The company should not be considered in the restructuring phase

Begin your journey towards residency in Portugal today!