PORTUGAL: Changes To Immigration Laws

August 30, 2012

The Portuguese authorities have announced a new law (29/2012) which will come into force on the 9th September 2012 and makes several important changes to Portugal”s immigration laws.

HR professionals who are arranging assignments to Portugal should ensure they are familiar with the new rules as they will impact future visa applications.

Changes to Portuguese Immigration Laws

Temporary Stay Visas

  • The maximum validity of the the Temporary Stay Visa (Visto Estada Temporária) will be increased to four months;

  • The types of activity which fall under this visa category will be increased and this visa will now be required in cases where the applicant will be in Portugal for up to 12 months, undertaking unpaid professional training, voluntary work or as part of a student exchange programme.

Residence Visas for local hires

  • The applicant”s salary must be at least 1.5 times the gross national average wage or three times the IAS (social security index) value, which was set at €419.22 per month for 2012;

  • The role to be undertaken in Portugal must meet the requirements to be classified as highly skilled work; i.e. it must require at least a university degree or five years of technical professional experience.

Residence Permits for Investors

  • There will be a new visa category to encourage high net worth professionals to invest in Portugal;

  • Investors who meet certain criteria (such as transferring at least €1 million of capital or creating 30 jobs) may qualify for a simplified route into Portugal.  The applicant will be able to obtain a residence permit post arrival without the need to first apply for a residence visa at a Portuguese consulate or Embassy in the country of residence.

Employer sanctions

  • Minimum financial penalties for companies who are found to be employing illegal immigrants have been defined in the new law;

  • Penalties will range from €2000, if the company is found to have one illegal employee, to €90,000 if there are 50 or more illegal workers.

Blue Card

  • The EU Blue Card will be adopted by Portugal.  The Blue Card, brought in by Council Directive 2009/50/EC, is a measure brought in to attract highly skilled individuals into the EU;

  • The Blue Card either has already been or will be implemented in all EU member states other than Denmark, the UK and Ireland (which have all opted out);

  • Qualifying criteria are set out in the new law.  The applicant must have a valid employment offer or contract for at least one year and must hold a university degree or possess five years of high level professional work experience plus and specific qualifications required by the role, as well as meeting other requirements.