Top 9 Easiest Ways to Get Residency or Citizenship In Portugal in 2021

Considering immigrating to Portugal in 2021 but not quite sure where to start? Portugal is one of Europe’s most welcoming countries for foreigners, and their immigration laws reflect this. Below we outline 9 of the fastest, easiest and most affordable ways to obtain Portuguese residency, permanent residency and eventual citizenship in Portugal…

OPTION 1: Get a job with a Portuguese employer (Portuguese residency by employment)

As a non-EU citizen, you will have to apply for an entry visa on the basis of employment at your local Portuguese consulate or embassy. The entry visa enables you to travel to and enter Portugal. The process of obtaining an entry visa can take up to 3 months.

Your work permit application may be made by yourself or your Portuguese employer, and typically takes around 60 days to process. In order to apply for this entry visa, you will be required to submit the following documentation:

  1. A letter of invitation from your employer, stating that you’ll be taking up a position with their company.

  2. A valid passport that has at least 2 blank pages, and that is valid for at least 2 years into the future.

  3. Proof of flight reservations (a copy of your flight ticket will generally suffice)

  4. Proof of pre-paid, comprehensive EU-wide health insurance with coverage of at least €30,000.

  5. 2 x recent passport photos in colour – check the exact format requirements with your local embassy.

  6. Biometric data (certified fingerprints and digital photos for facial recognition)

  7. Proof of accommodation in Portugal (hotel booking, letter of accommodation sponsorship or a lease agreement).

On arrival, you will have 4 months to apply for a residence permit.

In order to start working for your Portuguese employer, you will have to apply for a separate Portuguese work permit, the so-called “Autorização de Trabalho”. Your chances of being approved for a work permit will be improved by having specialized skills that are in demand in Portugal.

In order to apply for the work permit, the following documents will be required:

  1. A valid Portuguese residence permit

  2. A valid passport

  3. 2 x recent colour passport photos

  4. Proof of accommodation in Portugal

  5. Proof or registration with Social Security in Portugal

  6. Relevant tax documentation (proof of tax status)

  7. Clear criminal record (certified copy)

  8. A counter-signed employment contract.

OPTION 2: Marry a Portuguese national (Portuguese Spousal Citizenship)

You can apply for Portuguese citizenship by marriage if you’ve been legally married to a Portuguese national for a minimum period of 3 years. You can also apply on the basis of life partnership if you can prove that you’ve been cohabitating with a Portuguese citizen for a minimum period of 3 years, although the requirements tend to be more onerous.

Also, you’ll have to provide sufficient substantiation of having a real-world connection with the Portuguese community.

In order to apply for Portuguese citizenship by marriage, you’ll be required to submit the following list of documents (subject to you have been married to a Portuguese national for 3 years or longer:

  1. This application form – duly completed and signed

  2. A certified copy of your unabridged and certified birth certificate

  3. A certified copy of our marriage certificate

  4. A certified copy of your valid passport

  5. Proof of clean criminal record

  6. Documentation proving your real-world ties with the Portuguese community.

For more information on the requirements for de facto life partners (i.e. legally unmarried long term partners, click here.

Applications can be made by you or by a third party on the basis of power of attorney.

OPTION 3: Start a Portuguese company (D2 Entrepreneur Visa)

The D2 Entrepreneur Visa is not to be confused with the Portuguese Startup Visa (discussed in more detail below). Also frequently referred to as the Portugal Entrepreneur Visa, the program allows you to establish a new business or a branch of your overseas business in Portugal.

While this program typically appeals to conventional business owners, you are also able to start a technology focused business and obtain D2 residency in the process.

A key benefit of this residency visa program is that no significant capital investment is required. Having said that, capitalizing your new Portuguese business with around €20,000 can lend more credibility to your business plan, and doing so is therefore advisable.

Another aspect that makes Portugal attractive for entrepreneurs is a relatively simple tax structure. Company tax is payable at a rate of 21% on net profit, and the tax codes are relatively simple. As of December 2020, income derived from property rentals is taxed at only 10%.

The Portuguese authorities will appraise the business’ potential financial viability and socio-economic impact. The application process takes approximately 4 to 5 months, and once you’ve obtained Portuguese residency, you can bring your spouse and dependent children to Portugal on the basis of EU Family Reunification laws.

Find out more about the Portugal D2 Visa on our relevant program overview page.

OPTION 4: Apply for the Retirement & Passive Income Residency Visa (D7 Passive Income Visa)

The Portuguese D7 Visa Program is arguably one of the best programs of its kind in the EU. Featuring relatively low minimum passive income requirements, reasonable minimum stay requirements and the ability to obtain Portuguese citizenship in only 5 years, it is mystifying that the program is not as well-known as the Portuguese Golden Visa program.

One reason for this is that the professional service fees associated with a D7 Visa application tends to be around 8X to 10X lower than those associated with the Golden Visa program, creating a disincentive for global residency and citizenship firms to market them – or even mention them – to prospective clients.

Another key benefit is the fact that the D7 Residency Program does not require a property investment, let alone at a price point of around €350,000. However, you will be required to submit proof of accommodation in Portugal.

All things considered though, this is an excellent Portuguese residency option – and for Americans and Britons seeking to settle in Portugal,  in particular.

OPTION 5: Launch a Portuguese Startup (Portugal Startup Visa)

The Portuguese Startup Visa is an attractive option for tech entrepreneurs wishing to launch a brand-new startup in Portugal, or expand an existing foreign startup’s footprint into the Portuguese market.

The program explicitly requires the project or initiative to be technology focused, and the eligibility criteria are fairly strict. You will also be required to join a startup incubation program offered by a government approved entity in Portugal.

Your existing or proposed startup must show strong commercial and job creation potential. Specifically, your startup should have the potential to generate at least €325,000 per year, and/or assets to the value of over €325,000 per year, within 5 years of the start of your contract with the tech incubator of your choice.

OPTION 6: Apply for Portuguese citizenship by descent (“right of blood” basis)

The following criteria are applicable in order to qualify for Portuguese citizenship by descent (this list is not fully comprehensive):

  • Children born to a Portuguese mother or father born in a Portuguese territory

  • Children born in Portuguese territory or abroad to a parent who has acquired Portuguese nationality after the birth of the child

  • Children of a Portuguese mother or father born abroad, provided they have their birth registered at the civil registry in Portugal.

  • Children with at least 1 Portuguese grandparent who is sufficiently fluent in Portuguese.

Portugal allows dual citizenship, so it is not necessary to give up your existing citizenship in order to apply for Portuguese citizenship by descent.

OPTION 7: Apply for Portuguese citizenship under the Jewish Law of Return (Citizenship Program for Sephardic Jews)

If you are a descendant of Portuguese Sephardic Jews expelled from Portugal during the 16th century, you have the option of applying for Portuguese citizenship under the Jewish Law of Return. In order to do so, you’ll have to have a Sephardic surname and be able to demonstrate belonging to a Sephardic community of Portuguese origin. You’ll also have to be familiar with the language.

In order to apply under the Sephardic citizenship program, you’ll have to submit the following documentation:

  1. Birth registration certificate (unabridged, certified, and accompanied by a certified translation).

  2. Certified proof of your identity, including full name, date of birth, birth place, nationality, affiliation, current place of residency, profession and proof of other countries in which you’ve been resident.

  3. Certificate of Jewish community with details as per the legal stipulations

  4. Proof of meeting the requirements for applying for Portuguese citizenship under the Sephardic return program, including proof of your family surname, family language, or collateral descent of a common parent from a Sephardic community with Portuguese origins. 

To find out more about this program’s eligibility requirements, click here.

OPTION 8: Apply for Portuguese citizenship as a citizen of a former Portuguese overseas territory

If you are a citizen of a Portuguese colony and were born during a period of Portuguese rule, you may be eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship. As of December 2020, qualifying nationals from the following former colonies are entitled to apply: Angola, Cape Verd, East Timor, Guinea Bissau, Macao, Mozambique, Portuguese India as well as Sao Tome and Principe.

Please note: If you were born to parents born under Portuguese rule in Portuguese India and Macao, you may also be eligible to apply.

OPTION 9: Apply for a Portugal Golden Visa (D9 Investor Visa)

The Portuguese Golden Visa Program, also sometimes referred to as the “Golden Investor Visa Program”, is one of the top investment residency programs in the world.

Given that you only need to spend 1 week per year in Portugal to keep your residency renewable, most people obtaining the Golden Visa do so as a “Plan B” – a back-up plan in case conditions were to deteriorate suddenly in their home countries.

The “standard” minimum investment requirement for the program is €500,000, however based on official guidelines pertaining to per-capita GDP, property age and population density, there is also a lower minimum requirement option set at €350,000.

Should you choose to purchase a qualifying old property in a low-population, low-income area, these amounts can be discounted by an additional 20%. That effectively means that the minimum required investment amount for the Portuguese Golden Visa is only €280,000. However, you should expect to incur at least an additional 10%-15% in fees, taxes and related expenses.

Again, if you’re actually looking to immigrate to Portugal and make it your home for more than half the year or more, the d could be a better – and far more affordable – option to consider.