I want to work in Portugal. What visa do I need?

Portugal is recognised as an attractive destination for professionals from all over the world. It stands out for its quality of life, rich culture, and stunning landscapes.

Faced with a growing need for skilled labour and professionals from various sectors, the country has implemented a diversified visa policy to attract talent from outside the European Union.

With options ranging from visas for job-seeking, dependent work and self-employment to categories aimed explicitly at highly qualified professionals, Portugal offers a range of opportunities for those looking to join its dynamic and innovative labour market.

In this article, we'll explain the visas available for those wishing to work in Portugal and their requirements.

What is the difference between a visa and a residence permit?

If you want to work in Portugal and you are not a national of a country in the European Union, the European Economic Area or Switzerland, nor are you a family member of a national of these countries, you do not have the right to work without the appropriate permission to enter Portugal for this purpose and the subsequent residence permit issued by the Portuguese authorities.

Permission to enter is generally granted in the form of a visa, obtained from the Portuguese authorities in the foreign national's country of origin and stamped in the passport. Depending on the duration of the stay and the intended purpose, visas can be requested for work, temporary stay or residence.

On the other hand, a residence permit is the right to reside in Portugal for more than one year. Initially, a temporary residence permit is granted, which is valid for a period of 2 years and renewable for successive periods of 3 years.

After 5 years, the foreign national can apply for a permanent residence permit in Portugal or even long-term resident status in the European Union.

Job Seeker Visa in Portugal

If you don't yet have a concrete job offer but want to try your luck in Portugal, the correct visa is the job-seeker visa. This visa only entitles you to one entry into the country and is granted for an initial period of 120 days, extendable for a further 60 days. During this period, you can carry out dependent work. If you find a job within 120 days of the visa's validity, you can apply for a temporary residence permit. Otherwise, you will have to leave the country at the end of the visa's validity period and will only be able to apply for a new work permit after a year.

Temporary stay visas to work in Portugal

Foreign nationals wishing to work in Portugal for a period of more than three months and less than one year can apply for a temporary stay visa. This type of visa is granted for the duration of the stay and allows multiple entries into national territory.

Temporary stay visas can be issued for very different purposes, such as study, medical treatment, posting workers and seasonal work, in addition to the following:

Temporary stay visa for independent professional activity

If you intend to enter into or have entered into a contract for the provision of services that involves carrying out this activity in Portugal for a period of less than one year, you can apply for a temporary stay visa for this purpose.

Temporary stay visa for remote work

Remote workers can apply for a temporary stay visa to work from Portugal for a maximum period of one year. In this case, in addition to the general conditions, they must prove the existence of an employment relationship or the provision of services with a non-resident entity in Portugal.

Temporary stay visa for highly qualified activity

The exercise of a highly qualified activity also makes it possible to obtain a temporary stay visa in Portugal by signing an employment contract, a work promise contract, a written work proposal or a contract for the provision of services to be exercised in Portugal.

Residence visas to work in Portugal

You can apply for different types of residence visas, depending on your specific circumstances and the work you intend to carry out. At the same time, applications can be submitted for visas for the immediate family (spouse, minor or dependent children, and first-degree ascendants who depend on the main applicant). Residence visas are valid for four months, allowing two entries into Portugal during that period.

Visa for dependent professional activity (D1)

If you already have an employment contract or a promise of an employment contract with a Portuguese company, you can apply for a residence visa for dependent professional activity.

Visa for independent professional activity (D2)

This visa is granted to self-employed professionals who wish to provide services to organisations resident in Portugal, whether they are natural or legal persons. They must prove that they have started or intend to start working as independent professionals in Portugal, that their project is viable, and that it adds value to the Portuguese business environment. They must also prove that they have the financial means to support themselves.

Digital nomad visa (D8)

The digital nomad visa can be granted to anyone who demonstrates the existence of an employment relationship or independent activity with a non-resident entity in Portugal. In addition to the elements common to other visas, the applicant must be able to demonstrate a minimum income in the previous three months equal to or greater than 4 minimum wages (€3,400 in 2024).  Proof of tax residency in the country of origin is also required.

Visa for highly qualified labour (dependent or self-employed) (D3)

A highly qualified activity is one whose exercise requires highly specialised technical skills of an exceptional nature or an appropriate qualification for its exercise.

Dependent or self-employed workers can apply for this residence visa. In the first case, the applicant must present an employment contract or a promise of an employment contract, with a minimum duration of six months and a minimum remuneration of at least one and a half salaries (€1,700 in 2024).

If, on the other hand, the highly qualified activity is carried out independently, they must start work and submit a contract for the provision of services with remuneration compatible with the specific nature of the work to be carried out.

Highly qualified professionals who sign a dependent labour contract with a Portuguese company can also apply for the European Union Blue Card. This special residence permit gives them additional advantages regarding long-term mobility within the European Union.

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