In the modern world, more and more people choose the challenging path of entrepreneurship, opening Startups and starting to work for themselves, given all the advantages that such employment brings compared with an employee's work. Flexible work schedule, full responsibility for everything that happens, the absence of bosses and colleagues we did not choose, and most importantly, unlimited opportunities for earnings - this is how future entrepreneurs see the benefits of working for themselves. So what could be better than the picture described above? Probably better can be all the same but in Portugal! You should agree that creating a new project and working for yourself is much more pleasant in a country with a warm climate, when during breaks from work you can walk along the most beautiful Portuguese beaches, or in general, work directly on the beach, sitting with a laptop in one of the cozy Portuguese cafes.
That is why our new article will be devoted to such an immigration tool to Portugal as Startup Visa, which can open a window to Europe for many entrepreneurs from all over the world.
What is a StartUp Visa, and why is it relevant in 2022?
Startup Visa is a Portuguese program created in 2018 by the Portuguese Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation IAPMEI to attract entrepreneurs from all over the world to Portugal. The program considers that entrepreneurs will open a new startup in Portugal or transfer an existing project here from another country, and for this, they will be granted a visa (and then a citizenship/residence permit), which is called a “startup visa”. In fact, this is one of the sorts of visas for entrepreneurs (you can find a promotional video with a brief description of this program in English here).
Why is the conversation about a startup visa in Portugal especially relevant in 2022? There are several good reasons for this:
- Active development of Portugal in recent years as a platform for international innovative IT projects and startups.
The well-known Web Summit takes place annually in Portugal, and the number of IT startups in Lisbon is just uncountable. That signifies that the country actively attracts international and innovative projects, creating the necessary conditions and infrastructure for them.
- An easier way to immigrate to Portugal for startup visa holders.
We will cover this point in more detail in the second part of our article, but now we can say that the way to get a startup visa in Portugal seems to be much easier and more transparent compared to the same freelance visa or with alternative methods for freelancers to move to Portugal. A startup visa is a 100% legal and understandable way of immigration, and most importantly, in this case, the state will be interested in helping you. You should agree that this is much better than the doubtful and illegal ways of immigrating to Portugal.
- The specifics of the Portuguese labor market.
Naturally, if you are a professional in your field with unique competencies and extensive work experience, you may ask, "Why open a startup in Portugal when I can just find a job as an employee with a good salary?". This question would make sense in any other country. However, in Portugal, there is a rather limited choice of vacancies due to the small labor market, and there are also problems with the transparency of this market and its efficiency. It is definitely possible to find a job, but you may have to wait six months or a year, sending hundreds of CVs and not receiving any answer, which we wrote about in detail in our article on how to find a job as an employee in Portugal. It may seem strange, but creating a startup and starting a business from scratch in Portugal is faster than getting a job in a company.
- The amount of salaries.
Even if you are lucky and can get a job in a Portuguese company, the salary may surprise you unpleasantly. However, we already wrote about how much on average employees in the country receive in our article about salaries in Portugal, so after reading its materials, you will understand that you can earn a thousand euros on your own, working with clients around the world online. This is another factor that will help you decide to create your own startup.
Conditions for obtaining a Startup Visa in Portugal
If you decide to participate in the Portuguese Startup Visa program and, on this basis, get a startup visa to immigrate to Portugal, then the following conditions must be met.
Requirements for participants-candidates for a startup visa:
- From 1 to 5 people can participate in the project because a maximum of 5 startup visas required to obtain a residence permit can be issued for one startup.
- Entrepreneurs from any country can participate in the program, while the principal applicant for participation in the program must be a person without a permanent residence in the European Union or the Schengen area.
- Only entrepreneurs over 18 years old can participate in the project.
- To participate in the project and apply for a startup visa, among other documents, it will be necessary to confirm that there are sufficient funds in your bank account for a total of 5146.08 euros per person. This is necessary to show that you have the minimum required amount for living and can quickly develop your startup or project in Portugal.
Requirements for a project or startup:
- To participate in the Startup Visa program, you must either open a new startup in Portugal or relocate an existing company from another country.
- At the same time, your startup doesn't need to be already created when applying for participation in the project. It may be at the idea stage, but with a very well-developed business plan, presentation, and detailed planning of goals for turnover, timing, and financial results.
- Your project or startup should focus on innovation, technology, and producing relevant products or services.
- Your project should be focused in the future on entering international markets.
- One of your startup's goals should be to create skilled jobs in the future.
- The project must have the potential to achieve a turnover of more than 325,000 euros per year after 5 years from the date of creation and/or an asset value of more than 325,000 euros per year after this period.
Documents required for participation in the Startup Visa program in Portugal
Well, you checked the requirements above and realized that you and your project fully meet all the necessary criteria. What's next? Next, you need to collect and prepare all the required papers, which include:
- Detailed description and presentation of the project. It is vital to work out this part in as much detail as possible because it is based on the purpose of your project that the final positive decision will be made (or not made).
- A motivation letter, where it is essential to describe your goals and interest in creating an innovative project or startup in Portugal.
- Copy of passport, residence, or another identity document.
- Statement of whether you have a NIF tax number and a Segurança Social number in Portugal. If not, you need to indicate it on the application, and if so, you must provide permission from IAPMEI for online consultation with tax and social services and attach proof of your tax and social status.
- Certificate of no criminal record from your country of origin or permanent residence.
- A bank certificate confirming the availability of the minimum required financial resources in the amount of 5,146.80 euros per person. It will also be necessary to ensure the ability to transfer these funds to an account in a Portuguese bank.
- Your CV with information about your education, work experience, etc. You can also attach letters of recommendation and other documents to help make a decision in your favor.
You can always find this list here in this official guide or on the IAPMEI website.
Step-by-step instructions for obtaining a Startup Visa in Portugal
Well, all the necessary documents have been collected, and you are ready to apply for participation in the Startup Visa program in Portugal. To do this, we suggest using the following step-by-step instructions.
Step 1. Collection of all necessary documents, which we already noted above.
Step 2. Submission of an online application with a description of the project and all necessary papers in a special section of the IAPMEI website.
Step 3. Sending applications to incubators (one or more) that will accompany your startup or project at the incubation period. Getting a Startup Visa in Portugal is possible only if at least one incubator approves your project and is ready to cooperate. Therefore, all Portuguese incubators participating in the Startup Visa program in 2022 are represented in this list.
Step 4. After at least one incubator approves your project, you can complete the online form in a special section of the IAPMEI website. This will move your application to the last stage and await approval from the Portuguese Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation IAPMEI.
Step 5. IAPMEI will make a final decision on your Startup Visa application within 30 working days from the date of your application. At the same time, you can track your application's status and the final decision on it at any time in your personal account on the online platform, which we noted above.
Step 6. In case of a positive decision on your application, IAPMEI will provide you with the necessary declaration of your participation in the Startup Visa project (which is usually issued for 6 months). With this declaration and other standard papers, you will need to apply to the Portuguese Consulate in your country. It is at the Consulate that you can obtain a resident visa to enter the territory of Portugal.
Step 7. After you have immigrated to Portugal, you can apply to one of the SEF immigration offices for a residence permit based on your Startup Visa. This procedure is relatively standard, and we have repeatedly described it in various articles on WithPortugal website. You can also find a list of required documents on the SEF website.
The role of the incubator in the process of obtaining a Startup Visa in Portugal
Sure, the role of the incubator is one of the main ones throughout the entire process of obtaining a Startup Visa in Portugal because it is the incubator that will approve your project at the initial stage, and the success of your startup will depend on the incubator and its assistance.
You can assess the incubator's quality and level of professionalism, as well as its conditions and degree of support. After all, some incubators will be ready to provide you with only legal and organizational support and, possibly, office space on special terms. There are those incubators that have the opportunity to allocate grants or otherwise contribute to the development of your startup or project. So, you should follow Ramin's experience and make a "knight's move" by contacting the incubators in advance.
Below, we designate the main criteria that govern Portuguese incubators, evaluating startups and projects for participation in the Startup Visa program:
- The level of innovation of a startup or project;
- Company future growth potential;
- Business scalability in the market and the ability to enter international markets;
- Prospects for securing a company or project in Portugal after the end of the program, as the primary goal of the Startup Visa project is the development of the Portuguese economy.
Knowing these criteria, you can continually evaluate how your project or company meets the conditions of the Startup Visa program. If you are creating a project from scratch, then we advise you to focus on these points because incubators will look primarily at how innovative your project is, whether it can grow and reach a turnover of 325,000 euros per year, and the intense and realism of your plans of getting a foothold with this project in Portugal after you participated in the program.
The Startup Visa program in Portugal is the easiest way for entrepreneurs to immigrate to Europe
Simplicity, transparency of the process, more than 100 incubators of your choice in various cities of Portugal, quite loyal requirements for participants, and high quality of life in the country - these are just a few aspects that make the Startup Visa program in Portugal perhaps one of the most attractive in Europe.
Sure, you can choose other ways to immigrate to Portugal as an entrepreneur. Still, by selecting the Startup Visa way, you will receive the support of an incubator, through which you will be able to get to know the market better, gain important business contacts, and in general, you will feel more confident because it is much easier to start a business in a new country with the support of local organizations.
Frequently asked Questions (FAQ)
Startup Visa is a program and residence permit project for foreign entrepreneurs who intend to develop their innovative businesses in Portugal.
I read about a Startup visa in Portugal, and the process seems too simple because it is not even necessary to have a real-life company at the time of application. What's the catch?
There is no catch because this program is 100% in line with Portugal's strategy to attract active and solvent citizens worldwide, primarily to strengthen the country's economy. Earlier, for example, we wrote about the Tech Visa program in Portugal, which serves the same purpose. Portugal needs qualified personnel and active entrepreneurs, so we suggest using this and not looking for a catch.
From 1 to 5 people can participate in the project because a maximum of 5 visas can be issued per project.
I live in Germany and want to create a startup in Portugal with a friend from Ukraine. With such a team, will we be able to apply together for participation in the Startup Visa program?
Yes, sure, if your startup has not yet been created or was created outside of Portugal. At the same time, the principal applicant for the program must always be a person without permanent residence in the EU. That is, in your particular case, your friend from Ukraine should be the principal applicant.
I tried to apply for participation in the project but was immediately refused by the incubator. What to do in this case?
In this case, we advise you to apply again but send requests to other incubators because there are no restrictions on applying to several incubators at once. As a result, it will be enough for you if at least one incubator is interested in your project.
With a Startup Visa, will I be able to move to Portugal not alone but with relatives who do not have such a Visa and do not participate in the project?
Oh sure. As the holder of any other resident visa, which you then exchange for a residence permit in Portugal, you will be able to exercise the right to be reunited with your family. In fact, this means that your closest relatives, such as a spouse, minor children, etc., will also be able to immigrate to Portugal and live, study and work on its territory.
Formally, no, because your activity must be consistent with the reason you were issued a Startup Visa, and this reason is the implementation of entrepreneurial activity in Portugal.
I came to Portugal on a Startup Visa and am preparing for an interview at SEF. What documents do I need to apply for a residence permit?
You can find a complete list of required documents here.
You can always find a list of all incubators participating in the Startup Visa program and their phone numbers and emails here.
You can always do it on the IAPMEI official website