THE PORTUGUESE START UP AND TECH VISA REGIME
The START UP VISA
With the approval of the law in 2017 and its regulation in 2018, entrepreneurs from around the world can apply to the StartUP Visa through an online platform. This regime aims to attract to Portugal investment, talent and innovation capacity by granting access to a residence visa for entrepreneurs. By attracting international talent this program aims to strengthen and potentiate innovation and to affirm Portugal as an open country to entrepreneurship.
Entrepreneurs from all over the world who want to open an innovative company will have quick access to a residence visa that gives them the possibility to create or move their startup to Portugal. They can integrate a startup incubator in Portugal and benefit from all the incentives and support of the StartUP Portugal Program.
Entrepreneurs wishing to access the StartUP Visa and obtain a residence/work visa must comply with the following criteria:
· Develop business activities to produce innovative goods and services;
· Open or relocate companies or projects focused on technology and knowledge, for the development of innovative products or services;
· Have the potential to create qualified employment;
· Have the potential to attain, within 5 years, a turnover over €325.000 per annum, and/or assets value over €325.000.
The evaluation of the economic and innovative potential is made based on the degree of innovation, the scalability of the business, the market potential, the capacity of the management team, the potential for creating qualified employment in Portugal and the relevance of the applicant in the team.
The TECH VISA
Furthermore, there are other opportunities for residency in Portugal of non EU nationals besides the Golden Visa. The Tech Visa is a certification program for technological and innovative companies with the purpose of an easier issue and access to visas or residence permits for highly qualified third-country nationals who wish to carry out their specialised activity in Portugal. This certification program started in January 2019 and it is aimed for companies that wish to hire highly qualified third-country nationals.
The Portuguese companies that wish to enroll in this program will be evaluated and selected taking in consideration the following criteria:
a) company legally incorporated;
b) absence of Social Security and Fiscal debts;
c) company not considered insolvent or in restructuring;
d) identify in the application the technical qualification areas;
f) positive annual results in the audited and deposited accounts;
g) production of goods and services activity that can be global or internationalised;
In addition, applicants must prove the technological and innovative basis by meeting at least two of the following requirements:
a) a ‘startup’ established for at least two years with activity in the technology sector, or of a sector of strong knowledge intensity;
b) an average annual growth in turnover of more than 20% in the last three years;
c) more than 15% highly skilled workers;
d) raised capital through venture capital or business angels in the last three years;
e) investment projects approved in Portugal 2020 or in the program to be created under the EU financial framework until 2027 in the areas of productive innovation, qualified entrepreneurship and creative or R&D Enterprises.
If the applicant company fulfills these criteria, it will be certified by the IAPMEI (Portuguese Agency for Innovation and Competitiveness) and must ensure that the Employees that they want to hire through this program meet the necessary requirements:
i) duly registered as taxpayer before the Social Security and the Fiscal Authorities;
ii) absence of criminal record and to be over 18 years old.
Employees qualified under Tech Visa must carry out highly qualified activities, complying with the requirements set forth in the regulations, such as: i) a minimum annual salary equivalent to 2.5 times the Portuguese social index, and ii) the necessary knowledge of Portuguese language or appropriate language to carry out the job that they are hired for.
Applicant companies that wish to be included in the list of certified companies that may employ and receive foreign citizens through the Tech Visa program must apply under the terms of the regulation to be issued by IAPMEI. The certification of the company is valid for two years and is renewable for equal periods.
Lisbon, April 2020
This information is intended for general distribution to clients and colleagues and the information contained herein is provided as a general and abstract overview. It should not be used as a basis on which to make decisions and professional legal advice should be sought for specific cases.