D3 Visa Portugal: Ideal For Highly Qualified Individuals and Startups in 2024

The Portugal D7 Visa offers a path to Portuguese residency - without investment.

Are you a highly qualified expert in your field and seeking to obtain residency in Portugal based on your skills and qualifications? If so, the Portuguese D3 Visa category could be an excellent option to consider. 

Find out more about this visa category for qualified professionals below, and also learn more about:

  • The HQA Visa Program, a low-input, concierge style business incubator program that leverages the D3 Visa category. 
  • The Portugal Global Talent Residency Program, another option that also leverages the D3 Visa category.

Crucially, both of these programs offer the fastest route to a Golden Visa equivalent residency in Portugal — for only around 25% of the total capital layout associated with a standard Golden Visa (the latter being priced at €500,000, excluding fees, registration costs, maintenance and management fees, etc.)

These D3 based programs typically see applicants approved within 30-60 days, whereas the Golden Visa process is currently taking as long as three years (or longer) to get to the biometrics appointment stage.

Let’s get into the details below…

The Portuguese D3 Visa at a glance


The D3 Visa is a priority settlement visa aimed at attracting highly qualified professionals to the Portuguese territory. The visa category offers fast-track processing and a clear path to obtaining either the EU Blue Card, Portuguese permanent residency, and/or Portuguese citizenship without the hassles and delays typically associated with the country’s regular employment based visa category (the D1 Visa). 

The D3 Visa comes in two “flavors”: 

  1.  For SubordinateHighly Qualified Activities, i.e. for suitably qualified applicants who will be employed by a Portuguese company or institution – i.e. for the Portugal Global Talent Residency Program.

  2. For Non-subordinate Professorial Activities, Highly Qualified Activities, and Cultural Activities, i.e. for HQA Visa Program participants. (More details on how the HQA Program meets the relevant requirements below.)

The D3 Visa is ideal for suitable skilled and qualified applicants who already have either an employment contract, or a formal offer of employment, in Portugal. It is also an excellent option for candidates seeking to conduct Highly Qualified Activities, as stipulated by the relevant legislation. 

The requirements for the D3 Visa category can also be met through participation in the Highly Qualified Activity (HQA) Visa Program and the Portugal Global Talent Program, which we discuss in more detail below.

Key program benefits


Issuing D3 Visas is a priority for the Portuguese government. Consequently, its legislation requires that all D3 Visa applications are processed within 30 days. In practice, this means that you can obtain your D3 Visa within 6 days, and obtain Portuguese residency permits for you and your family within approximately 4 months.


As a Portuguese resident, you’ll enjoy the ability to travel to the other EU Member States, visa-free, for up to 90 out of every consecutive 180 days. You won’t even need to present your current passport to do so; only carrying your Portuguese national ID card will suffice.


The D3 Visa affords such applicants the opportunity to obtain Portuguese residency status for their spouse, minor children, adult dependent children (provided that they are single and studying full time at a Portuguese learning institution), as well as their elderly dependent parents.


Once your D3 Visa has been granted, and you’ve held legal residency status in Portugal for a period of 18 months, you can become eligible to apply for the EU Blue Card. Obtaining the Blue Card will enable you to relocate, along with your family, to any other EU Member State for the purposes of exercising a highly qualified activity.


Portugal offers the fastest path to EU citizenship through naturalization; after only 5 years. In contrast, you will have to hold legal residency status for 7 years or more in Greece, and 10 years or more in Spain (unless your country of origin is in Spanish speaking Latin America, or a handful of other countries).


Once you and your family become Portuguese residents, you can access the country’s healthcare service as any other resident or citizen would, subject to registration. Up until that point, however, you will be required to purchase comprehensive health insurance without any co-payments or holding periods for coverage.


Unlike with the Golden Visa Program, no property investment is required to obtain the D3 Visa. If you opt to go for the “subordinate” Highly Qualified Activity route, aka by taking up specialized professional employment, you won’t need to make an investment at all. (However, with the non-subordinate route, aka via the HQA Visa Program, you’ll be required to invest €175,000.)


EU citizenship is one of the greatest gifts you can give your children. If you have a child after holding legal residency in Portugal for at least 12 months, they will automatically become Portuguese citizens at birth.  

Legal basis and key requirements

Article 61 of Portugal’s Immigration Act (REPSAE) serves as the legal basis for the Portuguese D3 Visa, as well as for the HQA Visa, which is essentially a “packaged” version thereof.

Subordinate Highly Qualified Activities (art. 61.º-A): For suitably qualified employees / those with a job offer.

For suitable qualified and experienced employment-based applicants, the key requirements for the D3 Visa are summarized below:

You must have:

  • A valid employment contract or formal job offer, which must be valid for a minimum period of 12 months, and pay a salary that is at least 1.5X the Portuguese annual minimum gross salary, or 3X the indexed value of social welfare support (IAS).

    (In 2021, the minimum monthly wage in Portugal is €665, so you’ll have to earn at least €997,50 per month. Given that the current minimum annual wage in Portugal is €7,980, you’ll therefore have to earn at least €11,970 annually. However, for professions where Portugal is suffering from a shortage of specialized foreign labour, this income requirement can be dropped to only 1.2X of the minimum wage, or 2X the indexed value of social welfare support. In such instances, you’ll be required to earn a minimum of only €798+ per month, or €9,576+ per year.)

  • A professional certificate, where required, for regulated, highly qualified professions, as stipulated by Law n.º 9/2009, 4 March, or by specific legislation governing the recognition of professional qualifications necessary for the specific professional role you’ll be hired for, as clearly outlined in the employment contract or formal job offer;

  • In the case that you’ll be working in an unregulated profession, you’ll require a professional certificate, deemed to be adequate for the field of work or sector in which you’ll be employed, as outlined in your employment contract or the formal job offer, for professional activities in the first and second international category types (CITP) groups, as stipulated by the Council of Ministers, and following the opinion of the Permanent Commission for Social Harmonization (CPCS).

  • Proof of means of subsistence, in the form of your employment contract or formal job offer. (Proof of means of subsistence can be made through a statement of responsibility signed by the employee’s hosting entity.)

Professorial Activities, Highly Qualified Activities, and Cultural Activities (art. 61.º): For HQA Visa Program applicants.

You must have:

  • A work contract, job offer or service provider contract; OR,

  • An invitation letter issued by a higher education institution or professional training institution; OR,

  • A statement of responsibility provided by a certified company as stipulated by law; OR,

  • An invitation letter issued by a company or institute developing a relevant cultural activity, in the Portuguese territory, recognized by the government agency responsible for cultural activities, or as stipulated by law; OR,

  • An invitation letter issued by a research center;

  • To determine means of subsistence, your means obtained through a work contract or formal job offer should be taken into consideration. Proof of means of subsistence can be made through a statement of responsibility signed by the hosting entity that will be hosting you.

Who is the D3 Visa for?

Under the relevant European law, professionals holding the following qualifications and positions are eligible to apply for the Portuguese D3 Visa:

  1. Applicants holding management positions: This category includes senior executives, senior public administration officers, legislators, senior directors, senior administrative and commercial managers; senior services managers, company directors, etc.

  2. Subject matter experts in intellectual and scientific activities: This category includes scientists, engineers, health professionals, professors, senior legal professionals,  advanced level teachers, business and management professionals, information and communications technology professionals as well as cultural professionals, etc.

In practice, this means that the D3 Visa is well suited to applicants working in the following industries:

Machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), biotechnology, nanotechnology, pharmaceuticals, renewable energy, carbon offsetting, healthcare and medical technology, ecommerce, mcommerce, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), electronics, microchip and hardware technology, industrial processing, offshoring, process optimization, marketing technology (MarTech; MAAS), information technology (IT), AgriTech, SeaTech, blockchain and crypto technology, as well as Software As A Service (SAAS).

The HQA Visa Program route is also especially well suited to the needs of overseas business owners, prospective Golden Visa investors, suitable qualified entrepreneurs and startup founders, and senior company executives seeking to establish a Portuguese branch or wholly owned subsidiary for the overseas business employing them.

The HQA Visa application process at a glance

STEP 1: Complete the below contact form, including your personal details, academic qualifications, line of work, and your startup or research idea.

STEP 2: Book a virtual call with the program suppliers in Portugal. 

STEP 3: Sign supplier Term Sheet. 

STEP 4: Submit all documentation requirements, including a copy of your valid passport, your updated resume, police clearance, and an outline of your startup or research idea.

STEP 5: Adhere to payment schedule as agreed to with program suppliers

STEP 6: Your application is submitted, and an appointment with your nearest consulate is scheduled approximately 3 weeks thereafter. 

STEP 7: Your application is processed within 30 days.

STEP 8: Visit Portugal within 90 days to apply for your Portuguese Residence Permit(s) and complete your biometrics data capture at AIMA (previously SEF).

Why choose us?

MARKET PIONEERS: Our business incubation team helped Portuguese authorities develop the packaged, non-subordinate version of the Highly Qualified Activity Visa.

WINNING TRACK RECORD: Over 16 candidates have successfully applied for the HQA

Visa since 2019, which is when the program launched.

STARTUP GROWTH EXPERTISE: The HQA incubator team are experts at nurturing successful startups with high growth potential, from concept origination stages to delivering an MVP and distilling the product-market fit.

✓ TALENT MANAGEMENT: Our HQA incubator team has deep relationships with Portuguese universities and public research facilities, and can help you identify future key employees, should your startup require this.

VIP SERVICE: With the HQA Program, your startup enjoys comprehensive back-office support for three years as part of the deal. We can manage all daily startup operations, conduct research oversight, and develop the product or service on your behalf. So you can be as hands-on, or as hands-off, as you choose to be.

PLUG-AND-PLAY NETWORK: Joining the HQA Visa Program gives you access to our trusted network of business related and legal service providers – so you can hit the ground running.

ULTIMATE PEACE OF MIND: Your investment funds are safely held in escrow up until the point that your HQA visa is approved. It is 100% refundable in the unlikely event that your application is not successful.

Gain flexible Portuguese residency in 3 months from only €170,000 ALL-IN. Contact us today.