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Portugal HQA Visa: detailed guide on residency visa for skilled professionals

Highly qualified professionals may apply for a Portugal HQA Visa if they find a job there. After that, they get a 2-year residence permit with the right to live and work there.

Managers, IT specialists, engineers, doctors, and scientists may choose this path of immigration to Portugal. Let’s observe the conditions for obtaining the visa, its benefits and alternatives.

Portugal HQA Visa: work residence permit in Portugal

What is a Portugal HQA Visa?

The Highly Qualified Activity (HQA) Visa is a residency visa intended for highly skilled professionals willing to work in Portugal. Applicants’ work must require exceptional skills; that’s why the visa is most suitable for qualified managers, scientists, doctors, engineers, programmers and others.

The visa is issued for four months; while it’s valid, one must enter Portugal and apply for residency. An applicant initially gets a 2-year residence permit and then may extend it for another three years. This document allows one to immigrate to Portugal and work in the country.

To retain residency, one must stay in Portugal for at least six months in a row or eight months in total every year. 

Visa holders’ close relatives may apply for residency in Portugal for family reunification.

Who is eligible for a Portugal HQA Visa?

Qualified specialists whose jobs are connected with intellectual labour can choose the HQA Visa to immigrate to Portugal. They must provide a higher education diploma and a work agreement or its written guarantee with a Portuguese employer to apply.

The minimum term of the contract is a year. There are also salary requirements: it must be 1.5 times higher than the average gross salary in Portugal or three times higher than the social support index Indexante dos Apoios Sociais, IAS. In 2022, the IAS is €443.2 a month, so the applicant’s salary in the contract must be higher than €1,330.

Monthly salary in the work agreement to apply for the Portugal HQA Visa

If an applicant has a profession that is highly demanded in Portugal, the minimum salary can be 1.2 times higher than the average. This implies, for example, some employees who can manage public or commercial organisations.

The full list of requirements for the Portugal HQA Visa applicants includes the following:

  • age of 18+;
  • no criminal record in Portugal or abroad;
  • higher education confirmed with a diploma;
  • a work contract with a Portuguese employer for at least a year, with a salary 1.5 times higher than the average gross salary;
  • health insurance.

Family members can obtain a Portugal residence permit after the main applicant. A spouse and children under 18 may be included in the application. 

Children over 18 and parents may also apply for a Portugal residency visa if they are financially dependent on the main applicant. Full-age children must study in Portugal and be single.

Documents to apply for the HQA Visa

An applicant for a Portugal HQA Visa must submit the following documents:

  • the filled-in visa application form;
  • two colour photos 3x4 cm;
  • a passport and its copy;
  • a higher education diploma;
  • a certificate of no criminal record with an apostille;
  • permission for the Foreigner and Borders Service (SEF) to check the applicant’s criminal status in Portugal;
  • an employment contract or its written guarantee.

Also, when one applies for a residence permit with the HQA Visa, they must provide proof of having accommodation in Portugal, for example, a rental agreement.

How to acquire an HQA Visa and a Portugal residence permit: step‑by‑step procedure

Before starting the visa application process, a foreigner should find a job in Portugal. Then, they may get a visa in about 3+ months, and some time is also required to obtain a residence permit.
Stage Этап
Details Детали
1. Collecting documents
1. Collecting documents

The applicant collects all necessary documents, including an employment contract, a certificate of no criminal record, and a higher education diploma.

2. Applying for a visa to Portugal
2. Applying for a visa to Portugal

One fills out an application form at the website of the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Then, they have to submit the documents in person to the Portuguese Consulate in the country of citizenship or residence by appointment.

3. Getting the HQA Visa
3. Getting the HQA Visa

The documents are reviewed for up to 60 days. After the approval, the visa is pasted into the applicant’s passport.

4. Obtaining a residence permit
4. Obtaining a residence permit

The HQA Visa is valid for four months. Within this period, one must enter Portugal and submit a residency application to SEF, Portugal’s Foreigners and Borders Service.

The first residence permit is issued for two years, and the consequent ones are valid for three years each.

You may skip applying for the HQA visa in the country of residence if you already have a valid Schengen visa. Thus, you shall enter Portugal and submit a residency application directly to SEF. The usual processing time is about a month.

Costs of obtaining a Portugal HQA Visa

The applicant must provide a work agreement with a Portuguese employee with a specific salary and rent or buy housing to live in Portugal. Also, they pay government fees:

  • €75 or €90 — for the residency application processing;
  • €197 — for the residency card issuance.

Additional costs include health insurance, about €400+ per person, and legal services.

Вenefits of a Portugal HQA Visa

Immigration to Portugal. The country is known as a safe and beautiful place. Expats enjoy its mild climate and the opportunity to live by the Atlantic Ocean. In addition, the cost of living is relatively low there, and the relaxed pace of life may be pleasing after living in a big city.

Travelling to other Schengen countries. Residents of Portugal may enter other Schengen states visa-free and stay in this area for 90 days out of 180. The time spent in Portugal doesn’t count.

Tax optimisation. Portugal’s usual income tax rates range from 14.5% to 48%. However, new residents may pay this tax at the fixed 20% rate if they obtain a 10-year Non-habitual Resident (NHR) status.

Citizenship application after 5 years. One may apply for citizenship if one retains residency in Portugal for five years. Another essential requirement is to speak Portuguese at the A2 level.

One can travel to 180+ countries visa-free and move to other EU countries with a Portugal passport. Also, there’s no need to renounce the previous citizenship because Portugal allows its citizens to have multiple passports.

Immigration to Portugal — Lisbon

The Rossio, or the King Pedro IV Square, in Lisbon, the capital of Portugal. Lisbon is the largest city in the country and a major European economic centre

Immigration to Portugal — beaches

Praia do Camilo, a picturesque beach in the Algarve. Portugal is famous for its clean and comfortable beaches

Downsides of the Portugal HQA Visa

Besides all the benefits, some reasons can make one consider other paths to residency in Portugal instead of the HQA Visa. Here they are.

High qualification is a must. Only those who are engaged in intellectual work and have high qualifications can get a visa. And it’s obligatory to have a specialised higher education diploma.

Some Portugal residency visas have no requirements for applicants’ degrees or work experience; that’s why they’re worth considering.

Obligation to find a job first. One can get an HQA Visa if they have already found a job in Portugal. It may be the most challenging part of the process.

The requirement to live in Portugal permanently. To retain residency, one must live in Portugal for 6+ months a year. It may be inconvenient in some cases.

Portugal HQA Visa renewal

The first Portugal residence permit issued based on the HQA Visa is valid for two years, and each consequent one is valid for three years. One must apply for renewal at least 30 days before the residence permit expiry date.

Residence permits for highly qualified activity can be renewed automatically. 

To renew your permit, you must register or log in to the SEF website and choose Automatic Renewal in the Applications section. Then follow all the necessary steps offered on the site to apply.

After the application is submitted, you must pay the fee for the renewal within 48 hours. The amount of the fee is calculated automatically.

When the new residence card is ready, it is sent to your registered address in Portugal.

The HQA Visa vs other Portuguese visas

There are some other paths to a Portugal residence permit, such as the D7, Startup, and D2 visas and investment immigration.

The D7 Visa may be the best choice if you work remotely. To get it, one must confirm to have money and housing to live in Portugal.

The Startup Visa may suit you if you have an idea for an innovative project. It has the lowest financial requirements for applicants. However, this visa may be relatively hard to get because the project must be approved by a Portuguese business incubator and the IAPMEI, the agency responsible for the programme.

The D2 Visa is intended for entrepreneurs who wish to run a business in Portugal. It may be suitable if you have a business plan and money to make it happen.

Portugal Golden Visa is a residency by investment. Applicants choose one of seven options; the list includes the real estate purchase. So, if one has funds to buy a house in Portugal, they may be eligible to participate.

Comparison of Portugal residency visas

ConditionHQA VisaD7 VisaStartup VisaD2 VisaGolden Visa
ApplicantsHighly qualified professionals with a work agreement concluded with a Portuguese employerFinancially independent foreigners with funds and housing to live in PortugalEntrepreneurs willing to open an innovative startup in PortugalEntrepreneurs who buy a company in Portugal or start a new oneInvestors who buy real estate or securities, open deposits, run a business, support cultural and research projects
Financial conditionsSalary of €1,330+ in the work agreement

To rent or buy residential real estate
€8,460+ for living in Portugal for a year

To rent or buy residential real estate
€5,147+ for living in Portugal for a year

To rent or buy residential real estate
€8,460+ for living in Portugal for a year

To rent or buy residential real estate
Investment in the business
Investment of €250,000+

To rent or buy housing and confirm sufficient funds to live in Portugal
Time of obtaining a residence permit3+ months3+ months3+ months3+ months8+ months
Residence permit validity2 years, then 3 years2 years, then 3 years2 years, then 3 years2 years, then 3 years2 years each
Obligation to live in Portugal yearly6+ months in a row or 8+ months in total6+ months in a row or 8+ months in total6+ months in a row or 8+ months in total6+ months in a row or 8+ months in total7 days 

The HQA, D7, D2 and Startup visas allow one to sponsor their relatives to get residency for family reunification. In the case of the Portugal Golden Visa, family members are included in the initial application.

In conclusion, acquiring the Portugal HQA Visa is quite a fast and inexpensive way to immigrate to Portugal. However, other options exist, especially if you wish to work remotely or run your own business in Europe.

Frequently asked questions

What is a Portugal HQA Visa?

It is a residency visa for highly qualified professionals who intend to work in Portugal and have already found an employer. The HQA Visa allows one to enter Portugal and apply for a 2-year residence permit.

Who is eligible for the Portugal HQA Visa?

Highly skilled professionals, who can confirm their qualifications with higher education diplomas, may apply for a Portugal HQA Visa. Also, they must be over 18, have no criminal record, and conclude a work contract with a Portuguese employer.

How many types of visas are there in Portugal?

The two main types of Portugal visas are:

  • short-stay visas, also known as the Schengen ones;
  • residency visas, or national ones, which allow their holders to get a residence permit in Portugal.

The HQA, D2, D7, Startup and Golden Visas are examples of the second type.

Is Portugal HQA Visa easy to get?

The Portugal HQA Visa is quite a fast way to acquire residency in the country. However, the requirements for applicants are strict, and the most challenging part is finding a job in Portugal.

How much money do I need to get a Portugal HQA Visa?

You’ll need to find a job with a salary 1.5 times higher than the average gross salary in Portugal, rent or buy housing, buy medical insurance and pay state fees. In some cases, you’ll need legal services. So, by rough calculations, you’ll need about €15,000 or more to obtain the HQA Visa.

Is it hard to obtain a PR permit in Portugal?

A permanent residency application in Portugal may be submitted after five years of residence there. The requirements include:

  • speaking Portuguese at the A2 level;
  • having funds and housing to live in Portugal;
  • no criminal record.
How to obtain a residence permit in Portugal?

You may apply for a Portugal residence visa in the country of citizenship or residence and then come to Portugal and get a residence permit in the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF). Some kinds of residence permits allow one to go directly to SEF with a Schengen visa.

There are options for different purposes; for example, the D7 Visa allows individuals with passive income or remote work to live in Portugal, and investors may get the Golden Visa.

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Portugal HQA Visa: detailed guide on residency visa for skilled professionals