How to Get a Visa for Portugal

Over the past decade, Portugal has become a progressive Utopia for ex-pats, immigrants, and migrants worldwide. What draws thousands of people to apply for a Portuguese residency visa? The answer is simple: great weather, diverse landscapes, fantastic food and wine, friendly culture, affordable access to education, healthcare, historical sites, and the rest of Europe. With a list like this, it is easy to see why thousands of people move to Portugal yearly.

Applying for a long-term, or residency visa to Portugal will allow you to live and work in Portugal for four (4) months to a year. After which, you can apply to have your residency visa renewed for two years twice. After living in Portugal for five years, you’ll have the option to apply for permanent residency before applying for citizenship.

In this article, we’ll discuss the most popular visas to help you plan your move to Portugal but before we start, it’s important to mention that this article will serve as a guide as you conduct your research for long-term visas to Portugal. Always refer to the government website(s) and/or through an approved visa service for updated information, including forms, and requirements, the complete steps for applying for your visa, and the fees.

1. Check Your Eligibility for a Portugal Visa

The first step to applying for any visa is to check your eligibility. It’s important to understand that there may be different stipulations based on your nationality or place of residence and your individual circumstances. Government employees cannot advise you on which visa you should choose, but they can provide the appropriate procedural steps to complete your application.

If you’re eager to apply for a long-term visa to Portugal (over four months), You can do this through a few options, like study, retirement, or gainful employment. If you’re applying from the United States of America, there are three consulates you can apply from: Washington, D.C., New York, New York, and San Francisco, California. Each consulate has specific requirements and instructions and all applicants must now apply through VFS Global.

Types of Visas for Portugal

Golden Visa

The perks of applying for the Golden Visa include the low physical requirement of spending an average of seven days per year in Portugal. One of the stipulations of this visa is the investment of a minimum of €500,000. Other benefits include:

  • Being placed on the fast track to obtaining Portuguese residency and citizenship after five years
  • Access to healthcare and education
  • Visa-free travel and the right to live, work and study throughout Europe’s Schengen area

For more information about applying for the Golden Visa visit the VFS Global website and visit the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF) Portal here.

Portugal Long Stay (Category D) Visas

The Long Stay D2 and D7 Visas are for those ready to permanently move to Portugal and stay a minimum of 6-8 months per year until you obtain citizenship. Benefits of this visa class include:

  • Access to international quality education and healthcare
  • Eligibility to apply for permanent residency after five years
  • Eligibility to apply for citizenship after one year of permanent residency status
  • The ability to travel throughout the Schengen Zone as a temporary resident
  • The ability to travel, live and work throughout the Schengen Zone as a resident or citizen of Portugal
D2 Visa

Portugal’s D2 Visa is an investment visa through which the Portuguese government allows investors to reside in Portugal to raise external resources to grow the economy.

Who is it for?
For entrepreneurs, freelancers, and independent service providers,

D7 Visa

Portugal’s D7 Visa allows individuals and families to live, work, and study in Portugal.

Who is it for?
Retirees and people living off the income generated outside of Portugal (i.e. independent employment contracts, grants, investments, retirement funds, etc.)

  • Passive Income/Retiree
  • Independent (receiving a steady income from a company outside of Portugal)
  • Student Visa (education: research, secondary, and advanced degree or exchange /programs)
  • Professional training, internship, or volunteer work visa (usually sponsored by a company or organization)
  • Family reunification

2. Locate the embassy/consulate

It’s best to take at least one to three months to conduct research and prepare your documents before applying for your visa. One of the most important steps during your application process is to be meticulous in preparation.

Locate the embassy/consulate you’ll be applying from and ask for the updated checklist via email. Ask clear and concise questions regarding the procedure and fees. Some consulates allow applicants to mail in their applications; others require in-person interviews. The interviews are usually under 30 minutes in time.


3. Scheduling Your Interview

If you’re going to an in-person interview, you’ll need to schedule that as soon as possible—the appointments get booked quickly, so it’s best to allow enough time to gather your documents and pay your fees. If you’re traveling a great distance, please prepare for those expenses (for example, airfare, gasoline, accommodations, additional charges, etc.).

  • Make sure your travel/identification documents are valid for at least a year.
  • Begin gathering your documents (within 90 days).
  • Remember to get the required documents apostilled (*these documents must remain unopened)
  • Print copies (get the appropriate documents notarized if required) and print two copies of the checklist—one for your records and one to include with your application.
  • Make sure you pay the correct fees (using the approved methods) and address each payment to the right organization.

4. Prepare Your Documentation

If you become confused as you work through the application process, it’s best to contact VFS Global directly; this includes locating the email address that’s specific to the embassy/consulate that will be handling your visa application.

General Portuguese VISA Requirements

  • Printed checklist
  • Completed application (preferably typed)
  • Valid passport, plus colored copies of the photo and the signature pages
  • Two (2) recent passport-sized high photos
  • Federal background check + biometrics You can get fingerprinted via a designated USPS Office, police station, or approved service that works with the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI).
  • Proof of sufficient funds ( bank/investment statements, grants, passive income, credit cards, savings accounts, invoices, etc.)
  • Proof of payment for application fees There are usually several visa-specific fees.
  • Proof of accommodation Must be for the anticipated duration of your stay, for example, a minimum rental contract of 1 year or proof of home ownership. Consulates may also accept proof that you will reside with a Portuguese resident rent-free. You will both have to fill out the appropriate forms and have them notarized by an attorney in Portugal. You’ll have your sponsor mail the package to you to be included with your application.
  • Proof of health insurance This could include four months to a year’s worth of travel/medical/repatriation. Please be advised that you’ll have to obtain private or public Portuguese health insurance.
  • Letter/Statement of motivation This letter should explain why you’re interested in living in Portugal, where you plan to live, and how you’ll support yourself/your family.)

Other possible requirements depend on your visa and the consulate/embassy you apply to

  • NIF The NIF is a national identification number, similar to a tax ID number.
  • Local bank account Some consulates allow online banks but others require applicants to use a Portuguese bank account. You may also transfer sufficient funds to a local bank account by the time you submit your application.
  • Acceptance letter
  • Employment Contract/Letter of employment Some consulates ask that the letter state that you’re a remote worker.

5. Prepare for the Costs

Moving anywhere can be costly, and moving to another country is no exception. You can easily spend upwards of thousands of dollars during that first year, including finding accommodations, travel, utility bills, unexpected fees, and more. As a foreigner, you’ll often hear stories of folks feeling compelled to bid higher on a residence, or are required to pay extra months of security deposits, and/or secure a guarantee (co-signer). Although you should be able to take care of many tasks on your own, some people hire attorneys, accountants, or other service providers to help with the visa and relocation processes.

Applying for a visa can be much more costly than the standard fees mentioned on the Visa Fee Page. You should also factor mail service (regular vs. overnight delivery) and transportation fees (gasoline, flights, etc.) into your budget.

6. Wait

The wait for your application to be processed is a long game. Applicants awaiting their approval or rejection notices can wait anywhere between four weeks to five months after the process begins. If any issues arise during your application, a caseworker or representative from VFS will contact you via email as they work through your paperwork.

The application is a two (2) step process. You’ll apply for your visa either in your home country (place of citizenship) or the country where you have residency. After your visa has been approved, you’ll need to finalize it or convert your temporary visa into a long-term residency visa within four (4) months. The entire process can take anywhere from six (6) to nine (9) months (on average) to be completed. If you choose to remain in Portugal and depending on the visa, you’ll need to renew it every 2-3 years until you can apply for permanent residency and then citizenship.

You can fast-track your path to citizenship by getting married or applying for a Golden Visa. Whichever path you choose, pay close attention to what’s required of you. If you’d like an example of how to apply for the D7 visa at the Washington, D.C. Consulate is watching this video now.

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