Why an entrepreneur decided to get a Portugal Startup Visa
Azeeb is an entrepreneur from Islamabad. In 2015, he opened a foreign language school in Pakistan. At first, the lessons were held at a local library, and a year later, when the team had tripled in size, they launched an online learning platform.
Azeeb's school quickly became popular: about 3,000 students studied at it in 2020. Also, Azeeb was often asked to help translate documents, covering letters and presentations.
Azeeb realized he was ready to take the business to a new level. He brought together a team of IT professionals. He discussed creating a digital platform to run an online school, a self-paced language learning application, and an artificial intelligence translator.
The idea of a digital platform with artificial intelligence could be implemented, and the team got to work. They decided to register the new platform in Europe.
Azeeb began to search information on how to open a business in Europe. He learnt that some business visas allow the founder and his team to register a new company in the chosen country and move to debug all the processes on the spot.
On the Immigrant Invest website, Azeeb read about the Startup Portugal Program. He liked the conditions for obtaining and the benefits of a Portuguese visa.
Preliminary Due Diligence
Azeeb turned to Immigrant Invest on December 10th, 2021. Before concluding a cooperation agreement, he passed a preliminary Due Diligence. A certified Anti Money Laundering Officer checked the entrepreneur against international legal and business information bases.
The preliminary check took one day and showed Azeeb's clean financial and tax history. He received income only from the language school and regularly paid taxes. He also had no debts or criminal records.
Immigrant Invest verifies the investor’s personal and business background to foresee all risks. If Portugal considers an investor unreliable, it will not approve his application for a Startup Visa.
With the help of our Due Diligence, we increase the chances of obtaining a visa by up to 99%.
Head of the Legal Department, lawyer, PhD in Law
Collecting documents and applying to the IAPMEI agency
As soon as Azeeb signed a cooperation agreement with Immigrant Invest, the lawyers provided the entrepreneur with a list of necessary documents to apply for a Startup Visa and a residence permit in Portugal.
Applicants for the Startup Visa prepare a detailed description of the project, a motivation letter, a CV and a package of other documents. Immigrant Invest lawyers help entrepreneurs obtain a tax number and a social security number in Portugal and collect documents for applying.
Entrepreneurs must confirm the minimum amount for living in Portugal during the year — €5,146 per person if their family will also apply for a residence permit on a visa.
If the money is in a bank outside of Portugal, you must confirm the opportunity to transfer it to a Portuguese bank account. Azeeb, as a citizen of Pakistan, had no problems transferring money to an account in a Portuguese bank.
When Azeeb collected all the necessary documents, Immigrant Invest lawyers translated them, certified copies, and filled out all government forms. Then they helped the entrepreneur to submit an online application to IAPMEI, the Portuguese Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation.
The required documents for the Portugal Startup Visa were the following:
- A passport.
- A detailed description and presentation of the project.
- A motivation letter describing the project, its innovativeness, growth potential, business model scalability, and prospects for business development in Portugal.
- A Portuguese NIF tax number and a social security number, if any.
- A certificate of no criminal record from the country of permanent residence with an apostille.
- A bank statement with €5,146.80 or equivalent in another currency on the account.
- A CV with information about education and work experience, letters of recommendation, and training certificates.
Finding a business incubator
One of the conditions for obtaining a Portugal Startup Visa is to conclude an agreement with a local business incubator, which will approve the project and be ready for cooperation.
Azeeb and his team sent applications to several incubators. The answer came from an incubator from Lisbon, which became interested in the businessman's project and approved its opening at its base.
Waiting for a response from incubators was the most difficult part for me. I understood that it was the decision of the incubator that determined whether my team and I would be able to change our lives: open a new business and move to Europe.
We submitted applications to six incubators, and there are 99 in total in Portugal. We selected those that provided an office for entrepreneurs and introduced them to potential investors and partners.
Entrepreneur from Islamabad
Application approval by the IAPMEI and obtaining a Startup Visa
When the business incubator approved the project, the Immigrant Invest lawyers helped Azeeb complete the form on the IAPMEI website. So the application proceeded to the final stage: processing by the agency.
Under the law, IAPMEI processes an application for participation in the Startup Portugal Program within 30 working days. But in practice, the process can take up to three months. Azeeb received a response after 60 days; his project was approved.
The next step was to sign a contract with the incubator on the program website within 40 working days. Azeeb and the incubator signed the contract a week after the agency approved the Startup Visa application.
Azeeb was given a declaration of participation in the program, valid for 180 days and needed to obtain a visa. With the declaration, he needed to submit documents to a Portuguese consulate in the country of residence. Or he could come to Portugal on his own and submit documents directly to SEF, the Portuguese immigration service.
My team and I decided to apply through the Portugal Embassy in Pakistan. The Immigrant Invest lawyers helped us to book an appointment at the Embassy.
The Embassy staff accepted all the documents and said to wait for an answer. We received visas in 14 days; the visa was pasted into the passport. Also, at the Embassy, we were assigned a date for a visit to the Portuguese SEF.
Entrepreneur from Islamabad
Obtaining a Portugal residence permit
In June 2022, Azeeb and four startup team members arrived in Portugal to apply for residence permits and submit biometrics at SEF.
The list of documents for obtaining a Portugal residence permit included the following:
- A passport.
- A declaration on participation in the Startup Visa Program.
- 2 photos.
- A certificate from the bank on the availability of money for covering minimum life expenses — €5,146.80.
- Confirmation of housing in Portugal: a certificate of ownership or lease.
- A certificate of the absence of an outstanding criminal record.
- Consent to verify the presence of a criminal record in Portugal.
Housing in Portugal. Azeeb also needed to rent or buy residential real estate when submitting documents for a residence permit. Each of the applicants rented apartments in Lisbon. Azeeb concluded a lease agreement for a year: he would pay €2,400 per month.
SEF processed documents within five months. When the team received approval, they paid a fee for residence permit cards. They were made within two weeks and sent to the applicants at their registration addresses in Portugal.
The first residence permit was to be valid for two years and the following — for three years. Five years later, Azeeb and his team would be able to apply for Portugal permanent residence or citizenship.
11 months took Azeeb and his team members to get Portugal residence permits
for a Startup Visa
Submission of documents and biometrics for a residence permit
Azeeb's life in Portugal: starting work and reuniting with his family
The entrepreneur successfully completed the main task: the entire team got Portugal Startup Visas and residence permits. They have moved to Lisbon and started building a digital platform for learning foreign languages and translations.
Azeeb’s opportunities before and after obtaining a Portugal residence permit with a Startup Visa
|❌ Business in Pakistan only||✅ Business in an EU country|
|❌ Living in one country||✅ Living in Portugal or Pakistan|
|❌ Opportunity to open accounts in Pakistan||✅ Opportunity to use the services of European banks|
|❌ Need a visa for trips to the Schengen Area||✅ Travel without Schengen visas|
|✅ Ability to get Portugal permanent residence or citizenship 5 years later|
To maintain residency, Azeeb must spend more than 6 continuous months or more than 8 months in total annually in Portugal. Therefore, his wife and two children plan to move in with him as soon as they get residence permits.
Immigrant Invest lawyers helped Azeeb's family prepare a list of necessary documents for obtaining residence permits for family reunification. Documents will need to be submitted to SEF upon arrival to Portugal.
Now Azeeb's wife is collecting school documents for the children so they can continue their education in Portugal. The family plans to move to Azeeb in December 2022, right after the school holidays start.