The Portuguese Visa for highly qualified professionals

The “D3” Visa allows you to obtain a residence permit, as well as family reunification, with the possibility for the entire household to travel to the national territory at the same time.

Authors: Maria Pinheiro, Associate Lawyer, and Ricardo Silva, Trainee Lawyer

The “D3” Visa allows third-country nationals to work and reside in Portugal. However, not all professions are eligible to obtain it: it is necessary to be a highly qualified professional, so the “D3” Visa is also known as the High Qualified Visa.

In an increasingly diversified and demanding labour market, the “D3” Visa is an excellent option for those who want to take advantage of and contribute to a more capable, technically, and academically qualified Portugal.

Thus, the “D3” Visa is intended for highly qualified professionals who wish to work and live in Portugal, exercise a highly qualified activity, and bring their families.

The law is clear and defines who is considered a highly qualified professional. In a nutshell, it is someone engaged in a professional activity where specialized skills are required. In addition, however, the candidate will have to meet three cumulative requirements: i) according to ISCED, they have a minimum qualification level of level 6; ii) suppose they have the minimum qualification of level 5 according to ISCED, i.e. a higher technical professional course. In that case, they must have specialized technical skills of an exceptional nature, proven by a minimum of five years of professional experience; iii) have an employment contract (or a promise of an employment contract) with a minimum duration of twelve months.

Any candidate for this type of Visa needs, first, a work contract (or promise of work) in Portugal. In addition, however, the security of work or work agreement must meet some criteria, of which we highlight a) the duration (it must be stipulated, at least, a minimum period of twelve months) and b) the remuneration (you must earn, at least, 1.5 the national gross average salary, an amount that should be around €1,800).

After this first step, gathering all the documentation required to apply for a Visa is necessary. Note that the process starts in the candidate’s country of residence before the Portuguese Consulate.

Once the documentation is received, the Portuguese Consulate has up to 60 days to analyze the Visa application. However, it is necessary to combine this deadline with the Visa’s 4-month validity period. Once the Visa request is approved, it will be stamped in the passport, and an appointment with the Foreigners and Borders Service, already in Portugal, ideally within those four months, to collect biometric data and obtain the residence permit. Only after getting the residence permit is the candidate legally entitled to stay in Portugal for residence. Afterwards, you may renew your authorization for successive periods of two years.

There are two types of residence permits using a highly qualified activity: the highly qualified activity, per se, and the European Union “blue card”. The difference lies, roughly, in the fact that the former is a residence authorization mechanism of national origin and regulatory scope. At the same time, the Blue Card is an invention of the European Union itself, to which almost all member states have adhered.

Like any other residence permit, the residence permit for a highly qualified activity allows for family reunification. Therefore, family reunification is requested after the applicant obtains the residence permit. However, when applying for the Visa at the Portuguese Consulate, an accompanying Visa may be requested for the family members, thus allowing them all to travel to Portugal simultaneously.

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