Portugal HQA Visa: The Flexible Startup Visa for Highly Qualified Activities2021-09-20T17:26:18+00:00

Portugal HQA Visa: The Flexible Startup Visa for Highly Qualified Activities

✓ €175,000 ALL INCLUSIVE.

✓ Full Golden Visa Flexibility (Low Minimum Stay Requirement)

✓ Fully refundable if application is rejected.

✓ Restricted country applications accepted.

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

If you’re ready to actually up sticks and settle in Portugal, the D7 Visa is just the option for you. But what if you’re not ready to move yet? What if you’re still actively involved in running a business overseas?

You could opt for the Portuguese Golden Visa by making a property investment of 350,000+, excluding professional service fees, government processing fees, municipal transfer duties and associated maintenance costs…

Or, until the end of 2021, you could opt instead for a fund-based investment of 350,000 (500,000 from January 2022) – yet a fund-based investment carries a range of potential risks that will require extensive, time-consuming due diligence to assess.

And even for those who could afford to invest around 500,000, the opportunity costs and a maximum anticipated return on investment of around 3.5% (pre-costs and taxes) simply doesn’t make sense.

Imagine, for example, that you’re a seasoned crypto investor. Bitcoin has been growing at an average of 200% per year for the past decade. For the purposes of this example, let’s assume that it continues to grow at that rate for another 5 years.

All other things being equal…

If you could passively invest 175,000, ALL-IN, in Portugal to get a residency with the flexibility of a Golden Visa (aka no / low minimum stay requirements), and you could invest an additional 175,000 in crypto for a minimum of 5 years, your total investment wouldn’t have any negative carry – and your upside potential would be significant.

The good news is that a 175,000 Portuguese residency option with Golden Visa flexibility exists – in the form of the Portugal Highly Qualified Activity (HQA) Visa. The HQA is essentially a Portuguese hybrid startup visa combining company formation and the funding of an R&D project in collaboration with a government-supported research facility and a leading Portuguese startup incubator.

You can learn more about the legal basis for the HQA Visa Program here.

Let’s get into the details below…

What are the advantages of the HQA Visa?

Discover why more prospective Golden Visa applicants are choosing this Portugal Startup Visa in 2021…



Gain Portuguese residency for just €175,000 ALL-IN – that’s only around 30% of the total capital layout for a regular Golden Visa, leaving you with an additional €175,000 to invest in higher-yield opportunities.


Gain the advantages of a “paper residency” as part of your Plan B. While the D7 Visa requires you to spend 6 months+ per year in Portugal, the HQA Visa offers the same low / no minimum stay requirements as the Golden Visa.


While Golden Visa processing, in 2021, is taking 12-15 months to complete, and the D7 up to 6 months+, HQA Visa processing is a priority for Portugal. Expect visa approvals in 30 days, and residency permits issued in 90 days.


Your spouse, children under 18, and parents over 65 can also obtain legal residency in Portugal (provided that the are financially dependent on you). In addition, your spouse can apply to work locally as well.


Become eligible to apply for Portuguese citizenship and a passport after holding residency for 5 years. Also, you’ll be building real world ties with the country in the process of developing your startup.


Unlike with most other EU startup visa programs, the HQA has no business performance, job creation, asset value or revenue targets. There are also no onerous quarterly government reports to file.


Determine your own level of involvement in the development of your startup. Run the business fully hands-on, or leave the day-to-day management of your research project and enterprise to us.


In the unlikely event that your visa application is rejected, your startup investment, which is safely held in escrow until approval, is fully refundable. You can therefore apply with full peace of mind.

Who should consider the Portugal HQA Visa?

If you’re looking for a startup or “Business Golden Visa”, then the HQA could be an excellent solution for you…


If you’re considering a Golden Visa via real estate or a fund-based investment, the HQA Visa may be an attractive alternative with a total capital layout of only around 30% of a regular Golden Visa.


If you’ve already established yourself as a technology entrepreneur or startup founder overseas, the HQA Visa could serve as an excellent platform for replicating your successes in Portugal.


If you already run an enterprise outside of Portugal, and would like to test the EU market via a Portuguese branch, then the HQA Visa can serve as an effective launchpad for European expansion.


If you’ve already built a career as a senior organizational player in product development, technology, science or R&D, then the HQA can serve as the springboard to develop your own startup in Portugal.

Which Portuguese Universities participate in the HQA Visa Program?2021-09-20T08:23:11+00:00

As of September 2021, the following universities accept research projects under the HQA Visa Program:

  1. UAlg (Universidade do Algarve)

  2. Universidade de Evora

  3. Politecnica de Leiria

  4. Instituto Politecnico de Bragança


What is the legal basis for the HQA Visa?2021-09-20T08:09:10+00:00

Article 61 of REPSAE, Portugal’s Immigration Act, serves as the legal basis upon which the Portuguese HQA Visa is issued. In order to meet the visa’s requirements, applicants need to establish a Portuguese corporation and make an eligible investment in R&D or a technology focused research project sponsored by a Portuguese university or public research facility.

Can Syrians get residency in Portugal in 2022?2021-09-14T06:57:58+00:00

While Syria is a sanctioned nation, HQA applicants from sanctioned countries have, occasionally, been approved for the HQA Startup Visa based on the merits of their research funding proposal, and especially if they’ve been living outside of Syria for a significant period of time.

Can Iraqis get residency in Portugal in 2021?2021-09-14T06:58:39+00:00

While Iraq is a sanctioned country, applicants from sanctioned nations have, on occasion, been approved for the HQA Startup Visa based on the strength and merits of their business and/or research funding proposal, and especially if they’ve been residing outside of Iraq for a significant period of time.

We therefore encourage you to contact us today to discuss your specific situation.

Can Iranians get residency in Portugal?2021-09-14T06:59:12+00:00

While Iran is a sanctioned nation, applicants from sanctioned countries have been known to get approved for the Portugal HQA Visa based on the strength and merits of their startup and/or research funding proposal, especially if they’ve been residing outside of Iran for a meaningful period of time.

We therefore encourage you to get in touch to discuss your specific situation today.

What makes the HQA Startup Visa unique?

The HQA Visa combines some of the best characteristics of the D7 Visa and the Golden Visa. It offers a compelling Portuguese residency track well suited to entrepreneurs and professionals seeking flexibility, affordability and a Plan B in Portugal. Check out some of the program’s key differentiating features below…

Minimum Investment Required €350,000+ €175,000 ALL-IN €0
Process Timeline 9 – 12 months 3 months 6 months+
Family Eligible Yes Yes Yes
Path to Permanent Residency & Citizenship Yes Yes Yes
Minimum In-Country Stay Requirement Per Year 1 Week Fully flexible 6 Months
Portuguese Language Proficiency Required No No No
Non-Habitual Residency Program Eligibility Yes Yes Yes
Professional Services Fees €25,000+ None/Included From €2,495
Recurring Income Required No No Yes
Medical Insurance Required Yes Yes Yes
Portuguese Tax Number (NIF) Required Yes Yes Yes

Which industries suit the program?

While the program requirements are very flexible and fairly industry agnostic, a focus on product development and/or technology is fairly essential. Applicants hailing from the following sectors and industries typically comprise the bulk of our clients under this program:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning startups

  • Biotechnology, pharmaceuticals and nanotechnology startups

  • Energy generation, carbon offsetting and renewables, in particular

  • Healthcare and medical technology, including mobile healthcare services (MHealth)

  • eCommerce and mCommerce startups

  • Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG)

  • Digital communication and media startups

  • Electronics, microchip and hardware technologies

  • Industrial processing and process optimization

  • Marketing Technology (MarTech; MAAS).

  • Information Technology (IT)

  • AgriTech and SeaTech / BlueTech Startups

  • Blockchain and crypto technology startups.

  • Software As A Service (SAAS) enterprises

Key startup program requirements

  1. Establish a Portuguese enterprise and invest €175,000 in a Portuguese Startup incubator (€25,000 company capitalization included).

  2. Gain the support of one of the incubator’s affiliate public research institutions in Portugal and fund a high-value research project with a rural Portuguese university.

  3. Participate in a guided, light-touch business incubation process for 36 months. You have the option of being as operationally involved – or not – as you choose.

  4. A clean criminal record is non-negotiable.

  5. You have to renew your residency after 24 months, and then again after 36 months.

The visa application process

  1. Compile and submit your initial documentation, along with your CV, a copy of your valid passport, and a summary of your business and/or research concept.

  2. Attend a virtual call with the Portuguese startup incubator.

  3. Sign the incubator’s Standard Term Sheet.

  4. Submit all remaining required documentation, and wire your investment fee into a secured Escrow Account.

  5. Your residency application is submitted to the Portuguese immigration authorities.

  6. Attend your consular interview approximately three weeks later.

  7. Visit Portugal within 3 months to meet with local authorities and apply for your Residency Permit.

  8. Attend a meeting with the startup incubator and government-approved research facility to establish your business and conduct strategic planning for your startup.

Why choose to work with us?

✓ A track record of success – 13 successful applications completed since 2019.

✓ Comprehensive support from a seasoned European startup incubator.

✓ Highly competitive program pricing and maximum flexibility.

✓ Pioneer and market leader – our partners co-created the HQA Visa along with Portuguese immigration authorities.

✓ Application fee includes application management, business incubation, full back-office support,Portuguese bank account opening, tax numbers, etc.

✓ A deep understanding of application challenges – and how to overcome them.

Gain flexible Portuguese residency in 3 months for only €175,000 ALL-IN. Contact us today.

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