Portugal work permits and visas

Portugal work permits and visas
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Located on Europe's western coast, Portugal is a stunning country that millions of tourists visit annually. In addition, Portugal’s digital economy is growing, and the widespread internet access (set to reach nearly 80% by 2026) makes it an attractive country for remote employers.

While modern technology has provided the ability for highly skilled remote workers to partner with globally distributed employers, both employees and employers must also consider the legal implications and the Portugal visa requirements needed when hiring abroad.

Processes like running international background checks and applying for Portugal work visas can create potential roadblocks for employers when considering specific candidates and can make it difficult for employees to relocate to the countries they prefer.

This article will provide information on the different available work permits in Portugal, the requirements for applying for these permits, and other essential information employers and employees will need to navigate the Portugal immigration system.

Types of work visas and permits in Portugal

Portugal is a relatively accessible country for foreign workers, and the Portuguese government offers various types of work visas and permits.

Work visas in Portugal

Individuals will need a visa and residence permit if they plan to live and work in Portugal (unless they're from the Schengen Zone). Work visas in Portugal typically fall into one of two categories: long-term and short-term visas.

Long-term work visa

In Portugal, a long-term work visa entitles visa holders to remain in the country for a period of more than one year. However, it's important to note that while a long-term visa lasts more than one year, individuals will need to get a residence permit in conjunction with the visa.

To be eligible for a long-term work visa, individuals will be required to show proof of financial stability to ensure they can afford their cost of living.

Short-term work visa

Short-term work visas in Portugal entitle the visa-holder to live and work in the country for up to six months. Both employees and self-employed individuals are eligible for a short-term work visa.

Depending on the type of work you're doing, this visa may be extended for up to a year.

In addition to the above types of Portugal work visas, individuals who are native to European Union countries can also benefit from the Schengen visa, which entitles the individual to enter the country for periods of up to 90 days without a visa.

With the Schengen Visa, EU citizens can enter Portugal for business reasons for short periods. However, the Schengen visa is limited to 90-day entitlements every 180 days. Therefore, this visa isn't the best choice for individuals who want to live and work in Portugal long-term, but it serves as a valuable tool for those who need to visit the country for business occasionally.

Residence permits in Portugal

There are several types of residence permits for which individuals can apply that will entitle them to live and work in Portugal. Below are the types of Portuguese residence visas that individuals can be granted:

  • Work. There are several visas that individuals can obtain to live and work in Portugal, but they typically fall into one of the following categories:
  • Subordinate work residency visas, which entitle employees to live and work in the country
  • Independent work residency visas, which entitle self-employed individuals to live and work in the country
  • Family. Individuals can also apply for a residence permit in Portugal for familial reasons. These include:
  • Family reunification, which is intended to reunite the visa holder with their family located in Portugal
  • Family accompaniment, which is intended for individuals who are escorting visa-applying family members
  • Professional training or education. Individuals with this residence permit may live in Portugal for the following reasons:
  • To volunteer
  • To conduct research
  • To receive continued education (e.g., attend a Bachelor's or Master's program)
  • To attend a high school exchange program
  • To work as an unpaid intern
  • To receive training related to their chosen profession

Fixed resident. This is a unique type of residency permit intended for individuals who plan to live in Portugal long-term but don't plan to work (e.g., they're retired, independently wealthy, etc.)

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How to obtain Portuguese work visas and permits

Obtaining a work visa and permit in Portugal requires you to meet specific requirements and navigate the visa and permit application process. The steps for obtaining these documents are outlined below.

Portugal work visa requirements

Countries have unique requirements that employees will need to meet when moving there, and these requirements can vary widely in specificity. Fortunately, Portugal visa requirements are relatively straightforward.

Individuals must meet the following minimum Portugal visa requirements for a work visa application form to be approved:

  • Provide proof that you've never been convicted of a crime in your home country or any other country you've lived in.
  • Be legally entitled to visit Portugal, including not being expressly forbidden from entering Portugal via:

In addition, you will be expected to provide the following:

  • A valid employee passport and two additional passport-sized photos
  • Proof that the employee can afford to live in Portugal for the duration of their visa
  • Proof that the employee has made living arrangments
  • Proof that the employee is receiving health care coverage
  • Legal documents proving the employee hasn't been convicted of a crime and authorizing the SEF to verify the validity of these documents.
  • A valid residence permit
  • Documents indicating the employer has opted into and will withhold social security contributions
  • A valid employment contract

Note: All documents submitted to obtain a residence or work permit or visa must be in Portuguese or English or officially translated into one of these languages.

Portugal work permit requirements

Employers must submit a work permit application on behalf of the employee, so the primary requirement for the application to be approved is that the employer is legally entitled to hire individuals living in the country.

In addition, employers will need to include the following when applying for a work permit:

  • A valid employee passport and two additional passport-sized photos
  • Proof that the employee has made living arrangments
  • Legal documents proving the employee hasn't been convicted of a crime
  • A valid residence permit
  • Documents indicating the employer has opted into and will withhold social security contributions
  • A valid employment contract

How to apply for a Portugal work visa

Applying for a work visa in Portugal is a three-step process that requires the participation of both the employee and employer at various stages of the application process. Follow these simple steps to apply to work in Portugal successfully.

Step one – application for work permit

The first step is applying for the employee's Portugal work permit. The employer completes this step on behalf of the employee by gathering the above-listed documents and submitting them along with the completed work permit application to the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF).

Step two – application for work visa

Once the employer has received confirmation that the employee's Portugal work permit has been approved, they will alert the employee, who can then move forward with applying for their work visa.

The employee can complete this step by making an appointment with a representative at their local Portuguese embassy. The employee will need to fill out the Portugal work visa application form and compile the necessary documents listed above to bring to their appointment.

The embassy representative will compile the relevant documents and pass them along to the necessary Portuguese governing body. Once the Portugal work visa is approved, the employee will have four months to enter the country and complete the final step of the process.

Step three – application for residence permit

The last step in applying to live and work in Portugal is to apply for and obtain a residence permit. Once the employee has entered the country and is in possession of their Portugal work visa and work permit, they will apply for their residence permit directly from the Servico De Estrangeiros E Fronteiras (SEF).

Employees can alert the SEF of their impending application through the online SAPA Portal (this is a recommended step but is not required) and then drop off their completed residence permit application and accompanying documents at their local SEF office.

Application processing time

The application processing time to have your visa approved in Portugal can vary widely and depends on several factors, including how busy the immigration offices are when you apply and the type of visa for which you're applying.

Although there is no guaranteed window, you can expect a short-term visa to be processed within one month and a long-term visa to take up to seven months.

Planning to hire or work in Portugal? Here’s how Skuad can help

The ability to hire employees who can work from anywhere is one of the primary benefits employers can harness in today's workforce. No matter how you choose to find work or workers, Skuad is here to help make hiring in Portugal a reality.

Using our global employment solutions, employers can compliantly hire an individual or team of employees in Portugal, no matter where your business is located.

Portugal work permit and visa FAQs

Below is a list of frequently asked questions about the processes of obtaining a Portugal work permit and visa and navigating the Portugal immigration system.

Is Portugal open for a work permit?

Individuals who relocate to Portugal are not only potentially eligible to apply for a work visa but are legally obligated to do so.

In addition to a residence visa that entitles you to live in Portugal, you will also need to obtain either a short-term or a long-term work visa that dictates the following:

  • Whether or not you’re able to work while living in Portugal
  • The type of work you can do while living in Portugal
  • How long you can live and work in Portugal without needing to renew your work visa or stop working

How long does it take to get a work permit in Portugal?

How long it takes for your Portugal work permit to be processed depends on a variety of factors, including the type of work visa you’re applying for and the number of applications the Portugal immigration office is processing at the time you apply.

It’s best to give yourself several months to accommodate the process taking longer, but it typically takes between 30 and 60 days to get your Portugal work permit.

However, the process can take significantly longer sometimes, and obtaining your residence visa will add additional time.

Is a Portugal visa easy to get?

To get a visa, you will need to meet numerous Portugal visa requirements, which can be challenging for some.

As a part of the application process, you will need to prove that you:

  • Can afford to live in Portugal
  • Have a job with a Portuguese employer lined up
  • Have an eligible health insurance policy
  • Have somewhere to live in Portugal

The above requirements, in addition to some other requirements, will impact your eligibility for a Portugal visa. If you don’t meet these requirements, you will be unable to obtain a visa until you can meet them.

Can U.S. citizens work in Portugal?

If you’re a U.S. citizen or an employer of a U.S. citizen looking to relocate, you may be eligible to live and work in Portugal.

However, the ability to work in the country is dependent on obtaining a valid Portugal work permit and a visa.

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