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Portugal HQA Visa: 2024 Guide to the Highly Qualified Activities Residency

Mark Damsgaard

Mark Damsgaard

Founder of Global Residence Index

Last updated: April 8, 2024

Exploring the HQA Visa landscape in Portugal reveals a variety of options and providers, each offering unique pathways to residency and citizenship.

Below is a guide about the program. For a more personalized consultation regarding the different investment options available under the HQA visa, please don’t hesitate to contact our team of experienced consultants. We’re here to assist you in navigating this journey with tailored advice and insights.

Understanding the Program’s Essentials:

Cost-effective and Flexible Residency Option: The Portugal HQA Visa offers a streamlined path to EU residency and eventual citizenship, demanding a reasonable investment, usually starting from EUR 170,000. This program is designed for those seeking a cost-effective solution to reside in the European Union.

Residency Timeline: Upon application, residency is granted initially for two years, extendable for another three, leading to the option of permanent residency after five years. This structured timeline provides clarity and stability for applicants.

Citizenship Eligibility: After five years of residency under the HQA residency visa, applicants become eligible to apply for permanent residency or citizenship citizenship, opening doors to a life in the European Union.

Why Consider the Portugal ‘Highly Qualified Activities’ Visa?

Family Inclusive: One of the key benefits of this program is its inclusivity for your entire family, ensuring that your loved ones can also enjoy the benefits of EU residency.

Business and Investment Opportunities: Portugal’s thriving startup and investment landscape offers abundant opportunities. By opting for the HQA Visa, you gain access to a network of local talent and investment possibilities, enriching your entrepreneurial journey.

A Safe and Secure European Lifestyle: Choosing the Portugal HQA Visa ensures security in various aspects such as banking, property ownership, and business operations within the European Union’s stable environment.

Ideal for Leaders and Innovators: This program is particularly suited for top-level executives, entrepreneurs, business owners, and cryptocurrency experts seeking to expand their horizons in the EU.

Active vs Passive Investment Options

The Portugal HQA Visa offers two distinct pathways:

  • active engagement through the start-up visa; and
  • passive investment in qualifying projects.

For the active route, applicants participate in an incubation program, aiding in setting up a company in Portugal. This involves meeting business performance requirements and potentially leads to permanent residency or citizenship. Support from a business incubator and an advisor is key, especially in understanding local business dynamics and tax rates.

Alternatively, those preferring a hands-off approach can opt for passive investments in qualifying projects. This option suits applicants who wish to invest in Portugal’s economy without the day-to-day involvement in running a business. Both paths offer unique benefits and lead towards residency and citizenship in Portugal.

For more detailed information on concrete investment options, we encourage you to contact us. Our team is ready to guide you through the various pathways to obtaining your HQA visa in Portugal.

Aligning with EU’s Vision to Attract Global Talent

A Program with a Purpose: The HQA Visa Program is not just a residency and citizenship pathway — it’s a vital part of the European Union’s strategy to attract global talent. This initiative is tailored to enrich Portugal’s talent pool by welcoming entrepreneurs, investors, and senior executives from around the world.

Targeting the Innovators and Leaders: At the heart of the Highly Qualified Activities Program is the goal to draw in individuals who can contribute significantly to Portugal’s growing economy. Whether you’re an entrepreneur ready to embark on your next venture, an investor looking for new opportunities, or a senior executive aiming to expand your professional footprint, this program offers the perfect platform.

A Unique Collaboration with Portuguese Universities: What sets the HQA Program apart is its unique approach to residency. Eligible applicants engage in a contractual agreement with a Portuguese university, contributing to research and development, particularly in startup environments. This collaboration not only facilitates your residency in Portugal but also immerses you in Portugal’s innovative academic sphere.

Beach in Portugal

Advantages for Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Executives Under Portugal’s HQA Visa Program

Seamless EU Residency and Citizenship Pathway: The Portugal HQA Visa offers a straightforward route to EU residency, paving the way for citizenship. This program stands out for its simplicity and effectiveness in integrating applicants into the EU framework.

Visa-free European Travel: Enjoy the freedom of movement and visa-free travel within the European Union, a benefit that extends to the entire Schengen Area, offering unparalleled mobility and convenience.

A Secure and Neutral First-World Jurisdiction: Portugal’s reputation as a safe, stable, and neutral jurisdiction makes it an ideal destination for business and personal life. This aspect is particularly appealing to those seeking a secure environment for their ventures and families.

Attractive Tax and Banking Benefits: Leverage Portugal’s favorable tax regime, including the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) tax program, designed to offer significant tax efficiencies. The banking system in Portugal is robust and entrepreneur-friendly, offering a range of incentives.

Dual Citizenship Acceptance: Portugal allows dual citizenship, offering flexibility and ease for those looking to expand their global presence without giving up their original nationality.

World-Class Healthcare and Safety: Benefit from Portugal’s robust healthcare system and enjoy a life in one of the countries with the lowest crime rates in Europe, ensuring a safe environment for you and your family.

Enviable Lifestyle: Relish Portugal’s sunny climate, stunning coastline, rich cultural heritage, and world-renowned cuisine, offering an unmatched quality of life.

Other Program Benefits: What Sets the Portuguese HQA Program Apart?

Flexibility in Residency: Contrasting with the D7 visa, which mandates full-time residence in Portugal for status maintenance and citizenship eligibility, this program provides greater flexibility for those who travel frequently.

Efficient Processing and Timeline: Experience swift and hassle-free processing of your application, ensuring you receive your residency and ID card without unnecessary delays.

Streamlined Customer Experience: Benefit from a premium migration service, characterized by a white-glove approach, ensuring a seamless and straightforward experience.

Cost-Effective Solution: The Portugal HQA Visa program requires a lower capital investment (usually starting at €170,000) compared to alternatives like the alternate Portuguese Golden Visa (€500,000 for qualifying fund investments), making it an economically attractive option.

Gateway to an EU Passport: While the HQA is not a direct citizenship by investment program, it can be considered an indirect one. After five years of holding the visa, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship status. The passport opens doors to global mobility and a lifestyle in the European Union, enhancing your personal and professional opportunities.

Access to European Society: Embrace the opportunity to integrate into European society, benefiting from its rich cultural, economic, and social landscape.

An Overview of Costs and Steps

Understanding the Financial Commitment: The total cost for participating in the HQA Program usually is €170,000, structured in three payments:

  1. Initial Payment: A €10,000 non-refundable fee to initiate the process and schedule an appointment with SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras).
  2. Second Payment: €80,000 due upon successful appointment with SEF, refundable until the third payment.
  3. Final Payment: The remaining €80,000 is payable upon successful receipt of your residence ID, refundable until the renewal of residence after two years.

HQA Visa Application Process:

Step 1: Preliminary Assessment: Begin with a due diligence and compliance assessment to ensure eligibility for the program. Key documents required include a passport copy, proof of address, and your CV or professional qualifications.

Step 2: Online Assessment Meeting: Participate in an online meeting or interview with the university, forming a crucial part of the assessment process.

Step 3: Concluding the Service Agreement: Upon pre-approval by the university, conclude a service agreement that includes:

  • A) Facilitating Program Participation: Assistance in arranging program participation and facilitating agreements with the university. Options include investing in startups, conducting R&D for investment, or using infrastructure for R&D to launch into Portugal and Europe.
  • B) Immigration Services: Comprehensive immigration assistance for you and your family.

Step 4: SEF Appointment Scheduling: Schedule an appointment at SEF or the Portuguese consulate, depending on your access to the Schengen Zone. Collect necessary documents, including your CV, non-criminal record certificate, contract with the university, proof of financial funds, and proof of accommodation.

Step 5: Submitting Your Application: Submit your complete file at SEF for processing. Residence permits are typically processed within 2 to 12 weeks, initially issued for a period of two years.

Step 6: Residence Permit Extension: The extension of the residence permit after two years is contingent upon confirmation from the university regarding the validity of the contract. Following this, the permit is extended for an additional three years, after which you become eligible for permanent residence and citizenship.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the eligibility criteria for obtaining a Portugal HQA Visa?

Applicants must demonstrate a high level of qualifications such as a diploma from a recognized education institution, a one-year employment contract, or a promise of a work contract for a period of 12 months or more. Additionally, they should meet the income threshold, which is set at three times the value of the IAS (Social Support Index).

How do I apply for a Highly Qualified Activity Visa in Portugal?

The application for the Portugal HQA Visa includes compiling a complete dossier of documents that prove the applicant’s qualifications and financial stability. The process demands submitting these documents to the appropriate Portuguese consulate or third-party visa application center in the applicant’s home country.

What is the minimum investment required for the Portugal HQA Visa?

The minimum investment requirement for the HQA Visa usually starts at EUR 170,000. This investment can be in the form of a business that will contribute to the Portuguese economy or fulfill other specified criteria.

Can the Portugal HQA Visa lead to permanent residency or citizenship?

After five consecutive years of being a legal resident in Portugal, the HQA Visa holder may be eligible for permanent residency or citizenship, providing a pathway to long-term stay and potential integration into Portuguese society.

What are the differences between the HQA Visa and the Portugal Golden Visa?

The HQA Visa specifically targets individuals with high qualifications, offering a cost-effective residency option through employment or entrepreneurial activities. In contrast, the Golden Visa is available to a wider group of individuals making significant financial investments in real estate, capital transfers, or job creation.

What types of professions qualify for the Portugal Highly Qualified Activity Visa?

Professions eligible for the HQA Visa are those considered to add significant value to the country’s economy, technology, or culture. These typically include roles in STEM fields. They also include creative and cultural professions that require a high level of expertise and education.

Need Guidance? We are here to help you.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the complexity of navigating the Portuguese HQA visa, you’re not alone. Many find it challenging to obtain clear and accurate information in the vast sea of options. We understand these hurdles and are here to offer clarity and reliable guidance. By signing up for a consultation with our experienced team, you’ll gain access to personalized advice tailored to your unique situation. We are ready to help you simplify the process and make informed decisions with confidence and ease.

Need help?

Navigating through golden visa & citizenship by investment programs can be complex and overwhelming, regardless of the country or program you’re interested in. If you’re struggling to find clear, accurate information, you’re not alone. Our team is here to offer you clarity and reliable advice across a wide range of immigration programs.

By scheduling a consultation, you’ll receive personalized guidance tailored to your unique situation. We’re dedicated to helping you understand the details of various immigration programs, making them more straightforward so you can proceed with confidence.


During our call, we will:

Here is what to expect from a call with our advisory team:


We’ll answer your questions about the program and the application process, providing you with the clarity you need.


We’ll break down each stage of the immigration process, ensuring you know exactly what to expect.


We’ll help you determine if the chosen program is the right fit for you or suggest alternatives that may better align with your goals.


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