Portugal’s economic recovery is in full-swing and foreign investors are looking to invest more than ever in Portugal, especially in the tech sector. The Portuguese tech and innovation sector has experienced rapid growth in the last several years thanks to several decades of high-quality education and strategic government funding in engineering. According to the EU Startup Monitor 2018, Lisbon along with London, Berlin. Paris and Copenhagen are the biggest hubs for startups in Europe.
In response to the need to hire new and qualified workers, the Portuguese government introduced a Tech Visa Program in 2019. This certified program allows global companies registered in Portugal and with corporate offices in Portuguese territory, to hire highly qualified tech talent from non-EU countries or third countries, facilitating their entry into Portugal. Companies need to be certified by the IAPMEI or the Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation to avail of this program that is integrated into the National Entrepreneurship Strategy or Startup Portugal.
Who can apply for a tech visa
It is applicable to foreign entrepreneurs with the objective to create a Startup in Portugal and obtain a residence visa and subsequently a residence permit. Entrepreneurs need not be incorporated but must have a business project in their countries of origin and wish to pursue this project in Portugal.
Applicants must meet the following criteria to avail of the Startup Visa:
- Applicants must be over 18 years old and are non-EU citizens
- Applicants have no criminal record
- Applicants intend to develop an innovative project with potential for international growth
- The project is focused on technology and knowledge, with the potential to develop innovative goods or services
- The project has the potential to create skilled employment
- The project has the capacity to achieve in 5 years a turnover of Euro325,000 per year and/or an asset value of Euro325,000 per year
- The company has a bank statement that proves that it has its own financial resources equivalent to Euro 5, 146.80 and able to transfer these funds to a bank in Portugal
- The company must be enrolled in an incubator for evaluation and acceptance by the IAPMEI
Applications are approved within 20 working days and companies are then included in the list of certified companies. The certification is valid for two years and can be renewed if the company wishes to do so. The whole application process can be done online at www.iapmei.py/techvisa
Upon certification, companies will be able to:
- Recruit qualified workers, nationals of third countries who do not reside permanently in any of the European Union countries in a more simplified way
- Issue a digital Term of Responsibility that the qualified worker may present at the Portuguese Consular or Embassy offices or Border Control Services to obtain a residence visa or residence permit as a highly qualified worker. This is valid for six months.
Foreign Companies have a maximum ceiling of 50% of workers recruited through the Tech Visa Program. Local companies can hire up to 80% of their workforce.
Workers recruited through the Tech Visa Program are subject to a minimum mandatory wage that should be 2.5 times the social support index 3. They do not need to be interviewed in the Portuguese embassy or consulate. They must, however, have an existing contract of at least 2 years.
So far, the certified companies are mostly focused on tech activities like computer consulting, computer programming, and other information technology activities.
Requirements for certification
- The company must be legally incorporated
- The company must have a head office or permanent establishment in Portuguese territory
- The company must have no debts to the Tax Administration or Social Security
- The company must have no overdue wages
- The company should not be involved in restructuring
- If the company is more than three years old, the company must show that it has enough assets to cover its liabilities or positive equity
- The company must have the capacity to develop international tradeable goods or services activity
- The company must have a positive assessment in respect of business potential
- The company must be oriented towards foreign markets
- The company must have identified the technical qualifications it needs
Who is considered a highly qualified worker?
- The worker must be third country national or non-EU citizen who does not reside permanently in any of the European Union countries
- The worker must have fulfilled all tax obligations where applicable
- The worker must have no criminal record
- The worker must be at least 18 years old
- The worker must have successfully completed a University degree or the equivalent of Level 6 (according to ISCED2 2011 standards) or Level 5 (technical tertiary level education according to ISCED 2011) plus have 5 years of experience in specialized technical functions
- The worker must be proficient in Portuguese, English, French or Spanish or the language that is appropriate to the functions and duties to be performed