D3 Portugal Visa: Working Visa for Highly Qualified Professionals

19 de February, 2024

D3 Portugal Visa: Working Visa for Highly Qualified Professionals

Reading: 9 min

Portugal offers a type of Work Visa specifically aimed at highly qualified professionals, known as the D3 Visa. Unlike the common Work Visa – whose requirements practically make it unattainable, the D3 Visa has been increasingly requested and granted by Consulates, becoming a concrete alternative for qualified professionals looking to boost their international careers in Portugal. It is especially suitable for those coming to the country to perform specific roles such as researchers, scientists, specialists, directors, or managers.

Find out here how the D3 Visa works and if it suits your profile and objectives.

What is the D3 Visa for Portugal?

In order to attract highly qualified professionals to the country, who already have a promise or a work contract in sight with national companies, Portuguese legislation provides for a special visa, called D3 Visa.

This visa allows the holder and his/her family to enter the Portuguese territory for work purposes and to establish residence for all. After this visa expires it is possible not only to apply for a Residence Permit for Portugal, but also the European Union (EU) Blue Card – which is the Residence Permit for highly qualified professionals with European scope.

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What is a highly qualified activity?

The Foreigners’ Law defines a highly qualified activity as one whose exercise requires specialized technical skills of an exceptional nature or an adequate qualification for the exercise of the function.
More specifically, the European Commission considers that the highly qualified activity is that exercised by professionals falling into either of the two lower groups:

  • Management positions: as executives, officers and legislators; senior public administration officers, directors; administrative and commercial managers; service and similar managers; company directors;
  • Experts in intellectual and scientific activities: such as engineers and scientists, health professionals, teachers, business and management professionals, information and communication technology professionals, cultural professionals and legal experts.

D3 Visa Portugal Requirements

To apply for the D3 Visa the applicant must already have an employment contract, or a promise of an employment contract, and must also fulfill the following specific requirements:

  • That the activity to be developed be framed as a highly qualified activity and that the professional proves adequate qualification or experience for its exercise;
  • That the contract is for an indefinite period or at least for one year;
  • That the expected salary corresponds to an annual salary of at least 1.5 times the national average gross annual salary or three times the social support index (IAS)*. However, for employment in professions considered to be particularly needy by third-country nationals, 1.2 times the national average gross wage or twice the IAS value is required.

*The IAS is the reference value for calculating Social Security in Portugal and its value in 2020 is 438.81 euros.

If the visa applicant wishes to obtain the EU Blue Card as a follow-up, the salary envisaged should be slightly higher, corresponding to an annual salary of at least 1.5 times the national average gross annual salary.

Other documents required for the application:

  • Photocopy of the proof of the applicant’s academic and professional qualifications, accompanied by a curriculum vitae;
  • Declaration signed by the applicant, explaining the reasons for the application and objectives (recommended);
  • Proof of means of subsistence: proof of income or photocopy of the last income tax return, term of responsibility signed by the employer or host entity;
  • Proof of accommodation: rental contract, letter of invitation made by a citizen legally residing in Portugal or hotel reservation;
  • Health insurance valid for the period you will remain in the country. Travel insurance can be replaced by PB4;
  • Criminal record check;
  • Authorization to consult the Portuguese criminal record;
  • Two recent 3×4 color photographs;
  • Copy of passport;
  • Declaration of the applicant agreeing to receive the passport by post at his/her residence or to have it withdrawn at the consulates
  • Declaration of science that you should not travel to Portugal without a visa;
  • Simple copy of the marriage certificate, if married;
  • Simple copy of the children’s birth certificates, if any;
  • Printed, completed and signed visa application and form (also available on the SEF website).

How does the process work until obtaining the Residence Permit?

The process is composed of two stages: the first one at the Portuguese Consulate or Embassy of the country where the applicant resides (in the case of Brazil, since 2019 it must be done at the Visa Application Centre, VFS Portugal) and the second one at the Foreigners and Border Services – SEF, in Portugal.

In short, in the first step the interested party will need to attach all the necessary documentation to the D3 Visa application, as well as fill in the forms, declarations and authorisations indicated for this purpose, to be submitted together with the application.

After filling out the visa application online and scheduling the day and time of the visit to the Visa Application Center (VFS) for a personal interview, the application will be reviewed and, if granted, your Passport will be affixed.

The visa will allow you to travel to Portugal and apply for the Residence Permit with the SEF – Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, which in this case may be a Residence Permit for Portugal or the EU Blue Card.

The Visa is only valid for 4 months, so the Residence Permit is the “final” document that entitles the professional to specifically reside in Portugal.

How long does it take to get the D3 Visa out?

The duration of the D3 Visa for Portugal may vary according to each Visa Application Centre (VFS Portugal) responsible for the region where the applicant lives. In general, if the process is well formed, it usually takes from 30 to 60 days to be completed, with the respective decision on the application formulated.

However, if the applicant has not enclosed all the documents, or if the forms have been badly filled in, this time may be significantly longer, as the Visa Application Centre (VFS Portugal) will notify the applicant, or may even summon him/her to appear before the institution, to fill in any gaps or clarify any doubts.

What to do when you arrive in Portugal

With the approved D3 visa, which is valid for 4 months, the applicant must schedule his/her respective residence permit with SEF in Portugal.

The appointment can be made via telephone (the online appointment is still being implemented for holders of residence visas), consult the SEF website. After that, on the day and time scheduled, the applicant must go to the SEF’s service station with the visa and all the documents.

In the specific case of the D3 Visa, the residence permit to be applied for may be:

(i) Residence Permit for Highly Qualified Professionals; or

(ii) EU Blue Card

Both residence permits have an initial validity of 1 year and are renewed for successive periods of 2 years, with their renewal subject to the maintenance of the conditions of entry and residence.

It is also worth mentioning that after 5 years of legal residence in Portugal it is possible to apply for Portuguese nationality, by naturalization!

EU Blue Card

The Blue Card is a European Union initiative to attract foreign talent with higher education to work in the region. Each country of the European Union issues its Blue Card, but the applicable legislation, requirements and characteristics of this residence permit are the same for all Member States.

One of the most interesting features of the Blue Card, which differs from other residence permits, is that, 18 months after it is granted, its holder may move to another Member State of the European Union for the purpose of exercising a highly qualified activity, together with his family.

That is, after the above-mentioned period, if you obtain a promise or contract of employment from a company located in another Member State of the European Union, provided that the conditions of term and minimum monthly remuneration are observed, you can request the exchange of your EU Blue Card issued by Portugal to the Member State where you intend to reside, without further bureaucracy.

Want to get a D3 Visa? Click Here To Talk To An Expert >

Is there a possibility of a D3 Visa waiver?

As a rule, it is necessary to obtain the D3 Visa in advance for the subsequent application for the residence permit in Portugal, but the legislation exceptionally provides for the possibility of its dispensation for highly qualified professionals provided certain requirements are met.

To apply for a Residence Permit directly in Portugal, in addition to the specific requirements necessary for applying for Highly Skilled Professionals Visa, the interested party must have entered and stayed legally in Portuguese territory.

For the EU Blue Card, the person concerned must already hold a valid residence permit in Portugal (e.g. for study purposes) or must already hold an EU Blue Card issued by another Member State. In this case, what occurs is a kind of “conversion” of an already existing residence permit into an EU Blue Card to be issued by the Portuguese State.
Therefore, it is not possible to enter as a tourist in Portugal without the D3 Visa and apply for the EU Blue Card directly with SEF, but only the Residence Permit for Highly Qualified Professionals.

Family Reunification with the D3 Visa

Portuguese (and European) legislation provides that the holder of a Residence Permit (or EU Blue Card) has the right to have members of his family who lived with him in another country, who depend on him or who cohabited with him, regardless of whether the family ties were before or after the resident’s entry, reunited in Portugal.

Thus, they can apply for a residence permit in Portugal, by family reunification:

  • The spouse or partner;
  • the minor or incapacitated children of the couple or of one of their spouses/partners;
  • Children of full age, dependent on the couple or one of the spouses, who are single and studying in an educational establishment in Portugal;
  • The parents of the resident or their spouse/partner, as long as they are dependent on them;
  • Minor siblings, as long as they are under the tutelage of the resident, in accordance with a decision issued by the competent authority of the country of origin and as long as this decision is recognised by Portugal.

The application for family reunification is made in Portugal, at SEF, and the applicant must prove his relationship with the holder of the residence permit, as well as that he has accommodation and means of subsistence. If the application is accepted, the family member will also receive a Residence Card, as a rule for the same duration as the resident.

Tech Visa: Special Visa for IT Professionals

Finally, it is worth mentioning that in 2019 Tech Visa was created: a program that aims to make the process of granting visas faster for highly qualified immigrants working in the area of technology and innovation, through the certification of the contracting companies.

Thus, information technology professionals, such as software engineers, data scientists, programmers, ‘designers’, infrastructure architects, among others, currently in high demand by companies in Portugal, have come to rely on this even more special visa.

Besides being less bureaucratic, the process to obtain Tech Visa is faster, since it determines an “accelerated queue” for the analysis of the applications, which are given priority over the other types of visas.

To be eligible, the candidate must be recruited by companies that have joined the Tech Visa program at the Portuguese Ministry of Economy.

Companies must follow certain criteria in order to receive certification, demonstrating that they fit in with the objectives of the TechVisa Program and meet the criteria set out in the specific Ordinance for this purpose.

So, if your area is technology and innovation and you have a contract or promise to work with a company certified by the Program, applying for the Tech Visa, instead of the D3 Visa, is surely your best option!

*This article is for information purposes only, and is not intended to exhaust the subject or to be used to make decisions of its readers on the subject.



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