December 3, 2023

Immigration Green Card

Immigration Is Good For You

15 Changes And Trends In Portugal’s Immigration System In 2022 – Immigration

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After a year marked by a return of the effects of the SARS-CoV-2
virus on world mobility and the delays in immigration processes,
2022 presents itself as new, different, and expectant.

Several measures are being implemented at a national and
European level that will bring new frameworks to the Portuguese
immigration system and respond to the thousands of foreigners who
look to Portugal as a country of residence, investment, retirement,
or tourism.

Below is an overview of the 15 immigration trends and new
developments for 2022.

#1 – Entry and exit at Portuguese

Portugal has maintained, since 2019, a very flexible stance with
regard to border restrictions. Still, due to the new variants of
the virus and their potential for contagion, in order to keep
itself as a safe destination for residents and travellers, Portugal
has extended special measures regarding testing for the purpose of
international fights until February 9, 2022.

Accordingly, those who fly to Portugal must still, upon
boarding, present a negative test – or the certificate of
recovery from COVID-19 infection less than six months ago –
even for those who have the digital vaccination certificate,
regardless of the fight’s point of origin or the
passenger’s nationality.

For entry into Portugal by land, citizens coming from EU
countries considered low or moderate risk must hold an EU Digital
COVID Certificate, proving vaccination, negative testing, or
recovery. Citizens from countries outside the EU, as well as from
EU countries considered at risk level red or dark red, must

  • EU Covid Digital Certificate in the testing or recovery
    modalities, or

  • Negative RT-PCR test performed within the last 72 hours,

  • Negative rapid laboratory antigen test performed within the
    last 48 hours.

Cross-border workers, essential service workers, as well as
emergency, rescue, safety, and emergency services workers are still
excluded from the testing requirement, even if they come from
countries classified as high risk.

In all cases, citizens coming from Southern African countries,
namely Botswana, South Africa, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique,
Namibia, and Zimbabwe must undergo an RT-PCR or Rapid Antigen Test
and comply with 14 days of prophylactic isolation at home or at a
place indicated by health authorities.

#2 – Validity of residence permits

All Residence Permits or “visas” that expired after
March 13th. 2020 are now considered valid until March
31, 2022. This deadline extension will bring more legal security to
foreigners who were in Portugal with expired titles and will also
serve to mitigate the effects of the Immigration Office (SEF)
closure during lockdown periods and facilitate the mobility of all
holders of Residence Titles who were unable, as a result of the
closure of borders, to travel to Portugal for the purposes of
renewal or compliance with minimum periods of stay.

In addition, the government has determined that foreign citizens
who have made, until December 31, 2021, requests for residence or
asylum under Law 23/2007 or Law 27/2008, respectively, will now be
considered in good standing in national territory, provided they

  • The document of expression of interest or of the request issued
    by the registration platforms in use at SEF or;

  • The document proving the appointment at SEF or a receipt
    proving the request was made.

#3 – Pending immigration processes and

In late 2021, the SEF began an effort to recover pending
processes, especially at the level of applicants who were impacted
by the effects of the Pandemic. In this sense, it adopted
exceptional measures, in order to recover pending cases and
efficiency in the document management of foreign citizens.

  • The functionality of automatic residence permit renewal through
    the online platform was made available for about 29,000 foreign
    citizens whose residence permits expired before March 31,

  • A chronological notification process was implemented for
    applicants with pending processes and vacancies were made available
    for the respective scheduling through official resources;

  • As of January 8, a pilot project for attendance without prior
    scheduling will begin in two service points in Coimbra, through the
    delivery of a limited number of tickets for residence permit
    renewal, granting of residence under the community regime and
    residence authorization under the ARI/investment activity regime
    (granting, renewal and family reunification).

With the measures announced, it is expected that in 2022 the
processes may resume the original processing and approval times
– 90 days in the case of granting and 60 days in the case of
renewals – which will certainly strengthen Portugal’s
place in the ranking of destination countries for 2022.

#4 – The “New” Golden Visa

With the start of the New Year, the regime of residence permit
by investment, intended for citizens of third countries who do not
intend to move permanently to Portugal, is now subject to new
minimum investment values, as well as to some restrictions at the
level of the geographical location of certain real estate

Even so, the 8 existing investment options for 2021 and the
minimum period of stay of 14 days every 2 years will remain in
force, with access to Portuguese nationality after 5 years.

It should be remembered that the approved changes had the
objective of reducing speculation on property prices in major
cities although data shows that only around 2% of transactions made
per year in Lisbon and Porto are related to obtaining Gold

However, it is still possible to qualify for the program with an
investment in major urban centres such as Porto, Lisbon, or Faro if
the property is intended for tourism, services, or a different use
other than housing. In this sense, 2022 will certainly bring with
it the reallocation of many properties in large cities, in order to
maintain their eligibility, as well as new structures, namely
through Investment Funds that allow, albeit indirectly, the Golden
Visa application associated with the real estate market.

Nevertheless, a new dynamism is expected in the interior of the
country – which has already been noted due to a growing
interest of residents and tourists in less populated areas due to
the logic of social distancing introduced by the Pandemic.


Picture 1 – Map of Interior Cities
ft) and a Map of Low-Density Zones

Also, with regard to candidates, 2021 has already anticipated a
change in trends, with emphasis on the growing interest by British,
Russian, Indian, and North American investors, the latter even
surpassing Chinese and Brazilian investors, who have maintained a
consolidated presence at the top of the applicant nationalities
since 2012.

Concomitantly, and with the growing interest in Portugal by
corporate investors, it is expected that the remaining investment
options available will become increasingly significant,
highlighting not only the Investment Funds but also the business,
technological, and scientific options (as a result of the current
government’s efforts to innovate and create technological
hubs), as well as the cultural option that turns out to be not only
the most necessary to recover the sector, but also the most
accessible in terms of investment with a minimum of 200,000.00
thousand euros.

#5 – Brexit and ETIAS

As British citizens have been stripped of their European
citizenship, they have also been stripped of their four fundamental
freedoms: the free movement of goods between European Union (EU)
states, the free transit of persons, the freedom to provide
services within the EU, and the free movement of capital.

With the introduction of ETIAS (European Travel Information and
Authorization System), scheduled for the end of 2022, travellers
for tourism and business who do not need a visa to travel within
the Schengen Area will have to apply in advance for this
authorization in order to do so and will be obliged to provide a
set of personal data and pay the respective fee.

The growing interest of British citizens in immigration programs
such as the Golden Visa or the D7, is therefore natural, as they
assure them, in the first instance, a European residence permit
and, in the medium term, the recovery of European citizenship. In
January 2021, more than 18,000 British citizens had already
requested the exchange of their residence permit to Portugal, out
of a total of 45,000 currently residing in Portugal.

It should also be remembered that, with the entry into force of
the Agreement on the Exit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain
and Northern Ireland from the European Union, United Kingdom
nationals residing in Portugal at the end of the transition period
(31/12/2020) were protected, as well as family members who
benefited from rights under European Union law (spouses and
registered partners, parents, grandparents, children,
grandchildren, and a person in an existing durable relationship),
who do not yet live in Portugal, in order to join them in the

In this sense, it has become crucial to comply with the new
administrative procedures implemented, namely:

  • Regarding the proof of residence in Portugal: proceed to
    request the residence document from the SEF;

  • Regarding the right of permanent residence in Portugal (5
    years): proceed to obtain the permanent residence document from

  • For natural and legal taxpayers, with tax domicile in the
    United Kingdom: proceed to appoint a tax representative, until June
    30, 2022;

  • Regarding residents in Portugal: communicate to IMT (Institute
    of Mobility and Transport) your residence in Portugal within 60
    days after establishing it and exchange the driving license until
    December 31, 2022.

#6 – D7 and the Non-Habitual Resident

Interest in the D7 visa is growing among third-country
nationals. also due to Portugal’s positioning as a privileged
country for retirees, digital nomads, and holders of passive income
(such as crypto-shares, financial investments, property income, or
dividends) due to the quality and low cost of living it offers,
combined with the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) tax regime.

Specially, the D7 is a residence visa whose procedure starts in
the country of origin and allows the applicant to travel to
Portugal and obtain a residence permit by proving the passive
income and the other generic conditions associated with the
attribution of the right of residence (absence of criminal record
or proof of housing, for example). With the D7, the holder may
reside and work in Portugal, as well as reunite the family,
circulate within the Schengen area, and obtain Portuguese
nationality after 5 years. It is associated with longer periods of
stay in Portugal (when compared to the Golden Visa) but the law
provides some exceptions that make it very attractive.

Cumulatively, the NHR status can be applied for – a tax
(but not immigration) status that allows any citizen, regardless of
nationality (and is therefore also available to European citizens),
to benefit from a more favourable personal tax regime for a period
of 10 years.

Among the various benefits, there is a 10% tax rate on pensions,
a 20% 􀀅at rate on income from high value-added activities
in Portugal, and an exemption with regards to taxation of foreign
source income through employment, self-employment, capital, or
property if they meet certain conditions, such as taxation in the
country of origin, in accordance with the double taxation treaty
concluded by Portugal with that country.

#7 – Entrepreneur Visa, Visa for Highly Qualified
Activities (HQA) and Start-up Visa

Although with more residual dissemination, the Entrepreneur
Visa, the Visa for Highly Qualified Activities and the Start-Up
Visa are also destined to become important trends for 2022 as more
and more foreigners choose Portugal to develop their activity and
benefit from the door that opens to the European market but also
the market of the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries
(Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea,
Portugal, Mozambique, São Tomé and Príncipe
and East Timor).

With no associated minimum investment amounts or excluded
activities, each of these programs begins in the applicants’
country of origin, although, in some cases, the respective
residence permit may be granted directly in Portugal without a
prior visa.

Like the D7, they allow family reunification and access to
Portuguese and European citizenship and are associated with longer
periods of stay in Portugal (when compared to the Golden Visa) but
the law provides some exceptions that make them sufficiently
flexible and adequate to the profile of the applicant for which
they were designed.

#8 – Portuguese nationality through the Sephardic

The Sephardic community is descended from Jews who had their
roots in the Iberian Peninsula. To correct certain persecutory
policies, Portugal chose to grant Portuguese nationality to
citizens who unequivocally demonstrated that they were descendants
of Sephardic Jews. Although this route of acquiring Portuguese
nationality has been in place since 2015, in 2020 alone there were
more than 80,000 applications and more than 24,000 approvals.

The importance of the Portuguese passport, one of the strongest
according to international rankings, has been gaining prominence in
the Portuguese descendant and Sephardic community. One recent
example is the acquisition of Portuguese passports by Roman
Abramovich, owner of the English soccer club Chelsea.

It should, however, be noted that there are several ways to
acquire Portuguese nationality, as a result of recent changes
introduced in the law, highlighting in the first place Sephardic
descent and, in the second, legal residence for five years.


Picture 2 – SEF 2020 Report

#9 – Agreement with India on the recruitment of
Indian nationals

As from the entry into force of the agreement, whenever an
employer wishes to hire an Indian worker, he must communicate this
intention to the Institute of Employment and Vocational Training
(IEFP), which will transmit it to the Indian authorities, who will
be responsible for the selection process, at the end of which the
employment contract will be signed and the visa granted to the
recruited worker. The protocol will be applicable to recruitment
for any employment activity and whatever the duration of the
employment contract, benefiting Indian workers with all the rights
guaranteed by Portuguese legislation.

The agreement was concluded taking into account the need to
strengthen the effectiveness of migration management and the
importance of regularized employment, particularly in the case of
skilled workers, academics, researchers and information technology

Recall that the Indian community was the fastest growing in
Portugal in 2020, totalling 24,550 citizens, which corresponded to
an increase of 39.3%compared to 2019.

#10 – Mobility and circulation within the CPLP

The nine countries belonging to the Community of Portuguese
Language Countries have finally established the framework for
cooperation on mobility of citizens, and between the states
themselves, through a flexible and variable system that will
include short stays, temporary stays, visas, and CPLP residence
permits, covering holders of diplomatic, official, special and
service passports, as well as holders of ordinary passports.

In this sense, each country is legislating, in concrete terms,
how it wants to implement this principal agreement. In the case of
Portugal, the agreement provides for more flexibility in the
relocation of students, researchers, and businessmen from the

In the case of the “CPLP residence permit”, each
beneficiary will have the same rights, freedoms, and guarantees as
the nationals of the host state and the enjoyment of equal
treatment, particularly with regard to the right of residence,
access to education, the labour market, and health care.

#11 – Restructuring of the immigration

Although approved in 2021, the SEF extinction was extended to
the end of the second half of 2022 and will determine the transfer
of SEF’s police competencies to the Public Security Police
(PSP), the National Republic Guard (GNR), and the Judiciary Police

The new entity will now be called the Portuguese Agency for
Migration and Asylum (APMA) and will be responsible for migration
and asylum matters, namely the regularization of the entry and stay
of foreign citizens in national territory, issuing opinions on
requests for residence visas, asylum, and refugee settlement.

For its part, the Institute of Registration and Notary Affairs
will renew the residence permits of foreign citizens living in

The processes of coercive removal and judicial expulsion of
foreign citizens will become the competence of the PSP and GNR,
which will also be responsible for managing the temporary
installation spaces.

#12 – The Interior Program

The Interior Program was launched for the first time in 2020,
extending until 2023, and aims, briefly, to increase the
competitiveness of the country’s interior regions, avoiding the
massive concentration in Lisbon and Porto and in coastal cities. It
aims to facilitate job search, offer housing subsidies, and provide
financial incentives of up to €4,827, depending on
installation costs, transportation, and household size. In the case
of companies, this amount increases up to 82,106€ by job

The biggest change to this Program in 2021 was the extension of
its scope to foreign people who decide to move to Portugal.
According to this new measure, any foreigner who decides to move to
the interior of the country to work will also be entitled to these
incentives. This widening of the scope of application will make it
possible to boost and increase the competitiveness of the
hinterland and, at the same time, make more regions of Portugal
known and create job opportunities in different areas.

#13 – Impact of the legislative

In 2021, Portugal had its government dissolved for failure to
approve the State Budget. As such, Legislative Elections will take
place on January 30th. For these elections, the various parties
have presented their electoral programs.

As far as immigration issues are concerned, it is possible that
there may be new legislative impulses depending on the Government
that is formed. For example, with regards to the extinction of the
SEF, the process will be in the hands of the Government that
emerges from these elections. It is important to say, however, that
if the Socialist Party – PS (current Government) is in favour
of the extinction and consequent reform of the SEF, the same cannot
be said of the Social Democratic Party – PSD, which is
against it.

In terms of immigration policies, the PSD proposes revision of
the immigration law with the goal of “attracting and retaining
talent in Portugal,” with the adoption of a system per points
and a “green card” system, as exists in the USA.

The PS, on its part, presents as proposals the creation of
bilateral migration agreements with countries outside the EU, in
order to simplify the processes of entry of workers in recruitment
processes, as well as other mobility agreements with specific
programs to promote immigration and reforms to shorten the
procedures for family reunification, renewal of residence permits
and simplification of the process to obtaining them. As for
emigrants, it intends to encourage their return through the
Regressar Program, which aims to support the return of
emigrants through specific aids such as housing, education, or
social protection.

#14 – COVID Vaccination for

With a view to inclusion, Portugal has been a pioneer in
providing access to vaccination for foreigners who are in Portugal,
regardless of their regular or irregular situation. Currently,
foreign citizens can enroll in the vaccination process in two ways,
depending on whether or not they have a National Health Service
user number:

  • Foreigners with a user number: enrolment must be done through
    the self-scheduling request-

  • Foreigners without a user number: the registration must be made
    through a platform created by the DGS-

  • Foreigners in irregular situation:

It should be highlighted that Portugal was the country that most
quickly managed to reach the highest rate of vaccination of the
population, which reinforces the degree of international confidence
in it.

#15 – Digital residency and acts

The Portuguese government has made an effort to digitize
services in order to meet the challenges of today’s society. In
this sense, it announced in 2020 the creation of the digital
residency. This program is still under development through the
creation of the e-Residency platform and aims to assign, through a
100% online service, an identity and digital residence in Portugal
to citizens or companies not residing in the country, giving access
to online Portuguese public services and, consequently, to the Tax
Identification Number, the Social Security Identification Number,
allowing also to incorporate/register companies, open a bank
account and to exercise a professional activity and conduct

This program is aimed at Digital Nomads and individual
businessmen, as well as any foreign company, regardless of its size
or sector of activity, wishing to do business in the EU and outside
the EU, via Portugal, investors seeking to invest in Portugal and
the EU but also Portuguese service companies (financial
institutions, law firms, accounting firms, among others) as it
ensures high standards of authentication mitigating fraud risks and
ensuring the fight against money laundering and strengthening the
duties of Know Your Customer.

In the same vein, the regime that makes it possible to carry
out, through videoconferencing, authentic acts, terms of
authentication of private documents requiring the presence of the
intervenients before registry offers, notaries, Portuguese consular
agents, lawyers or solicitors, has finally been published, thus
responding not only to the difficulties imposed by Pandemic but
also to the waiting time at official Portuguese representations

Among the authorized acts are the authentication of private
documents, signatures recognition, divorces, or separations by
mutual consent, as well as acts subject to land registration, such
as the purchase and sale of real estate. Qualifications of heirs
are also covered, but wills are not.

The acts will be performed through an official online platform,
which will guarantee the necessary security from a technological
point of view. The regime will come into effect on April 4, 2022
and will have an initial duration of two years.

It is well known that Portugal has been one of the countries of
choice in terms of tourism, labour immigration, and investment,
having one of the most requested investment residency programs in
Europe, which came to meet the new needs and priorities created by
Covid-19. It is not surprising, therefore, that according to the
Census 2021, foreign residents in Portugal have increased by about
40%, which contributes positively to the urgent rejuvenation of the

AICEP (the Portuguese Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade),
for its part, beat the record of supported investment in 2021 with
emphasis on multinational groups that have chosen Portugal to
establish operations such as Google, Microsoft, Cisco or

The political and social stability, but also the geopolitical
location of the country, its privileged natural resources, as well
as the openness and acceptance of the Portuguese society regarding
the different communities have contributed to these results.

With the above-mentioned legal framework and innovations,
Portugal’s readiness to meet the needs that have long been
demanded in an increasingly global and digital world is clear to
see. Overall, it can be concluded that there is a progressive
modernization of the regimes with a view to increasing efficiency
and transparency, as well as the implementation of new instruments
to attract immigrants, companies, and direct investors.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.


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