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Portuguese Start Up Visa

Portugal is one of the leading business-friendly countries in the world and ranks as the 26th best country overall.

If you are a US citizen or from one of the non-EU countries and wish to set up a Portuguese business venture, a Start Up visa route may be great for you.

A Portuguese Start Up visa enables foreign US investors with innovative Start Up ideas with the strong market potential to visit Portugal and establish a business.

For further information on the Start Up visa and business incubation, visit our website or call us on +1 844 290 6312 for immediate help and assistance with your situation. We’re here to help you in person, via the phone, or online.

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    What Is A Start Up Visa Program?

    A Start Up visa program is a migration scheme for US and foreign entrepreneurs interested in establishing a business venture in a foreign country.

    The Portugal Start Up visa enables entrepreneurs from non-EU/EEA countries to develop a new or existing Start Up business in Portugal.

    Portugal uses the Start Up visa to drive foreign investments, innovation, and employment that can significantly boost economic growth. The visa program was established in 2018 and has been fostering and developing the Portuguese economic ecosystem.

    Establishing a business in your home country is unnecessary to qualify for a Start Up visa. However, you must intend to establish a Start Up business venture upon arrival in Portugal. Successful application for a Start Up visa will provide you with a residence visa.

    The program allows you as a US citizen to travel as a team of entrepreneurs. A maximum number of five entrepreneurs can apply at a time. You can apply for family unification after you settle in Portugal if you wish to have your family with you.

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    What Are The Benefits Of The Start Up Visa Program?

    As a US citizen, the Portugal Start Up Visa Program offers several benefits:

    Residency Permit

    Applicants receive a residency permit, allowing them to live and work in Portugal, benefiting from a fast track process to obtain a Residence Permit in Portugal.

    Access to Permanent Residency/Citizenship

    After five years, participants become eligible to apply for Permanent Residency  or Citizenship, with certain conditions such as proof of Portuguese language proficiency (CEFR A2), which can be waived under certain circumstances.

    Access to the European Market

    Portugal’s location within Europe provides access to the European Union market, offering opportunities for business expansion and networking within the EU.

    Supportive Ecosystem

    Portugal has a thriving Start Up ecosystem with supportive infrastructure, including co-working spaces, accelerators, and mentorship programs, fostering innovation and growth.

    No Business Performance Requirement

    Unlike some other programs, there is no specific business performance requirement, allowing flexibility for Start Ups at various stages.

    Favorable Tax 

    Portugal offers a favorable tax environment for Start Ups, with incentives such as tax breaks and exemptions for qualifying businesses.

    Quality of Life

    Portugal offers a high quality of life for you and your family with a pleasant climate, affordable cost of living, and vibrant culture, making it an attractive destination for entrepreneurs and their families.

    No Language or Residency Barriers

    The program does not impose language or residency requirements, making it accessible to US citizens.

    Gateway to Europe

    With its strong ties to other European countries, Portugal serves as a gateway to Europe (Schengen Area), providing access to a diverse market and valuable business opportunities.

    Investment Options For US Citizens

    As US citizens, you have two options for investment. These are:

    Option One Business Incubator Investment

    Invest in a Business Incubator through the Portugal Start Up Visa/Entrepreneur Program, with a total investment of EUR 175,000 ($188,245.75), including EUR 25,000 ($26,892.25)in venture capital.

    Option Two Collaborate with a Business Incubator

    Collaborate with a Business Incubator for a duration of 3 years:

    • Supported by Portuguese immigration authorities.
    • Receive operational, legal, and accounting assistance in Portugal.
    • Benefit from research and development support from government-backed facilities.
    • The incubation fee is refundable if the Residence Permit application is denied.

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    Who Can Apply For A Start Up Visa?

    The following persons are eligible to apply for a Start Up visa:

    • US Entrepreneurs that intend to develop their entrepreneurial and innovative projects in Portugal.
    • US Entrepreneurs with already established Start Up business ventures in their countries and are interested in setting up a business in Portugal.

    Note that you don’t necessarily need to have a Start Up business running already before applying for a Start Up visa.

    The requirements to apply state that as a US citizen, you must plan on:

    • Starting an innovative business.
    • Partnering with a government-backed incubator.
    • Going through a three-year incubation period.
    • Showing a clean criminal record.
    • Renewing the residence permit for three years after an initial two-year period
    Tree of digital start-ups

    What Are The Eligibility Requirements For A Start Up Visa?

    The Portugal Start Up visa is open to an individual US founder or solo founders as long as:

    • You don’t have a residence in the Schengen area.
    • You have met all your tax obligations regarding tax administration and social security (if applicable).
    • You don’t have a criminal record.
    • You are not under the age of 18.
    • You have sufficient financial and subsistence resources equal to 12 times the Social Support Index in your bank account. You must have bank documentation as evidence.

    As an applicant, you must prove that:

    • You are genuinely interested in setting up an innovative business venture in Portugal.
    • You plan to establish economic activities that are geared towards internationalisation.
    • Your business project or company is knowledge- and technology-focused to develop innovative products.
    • Your entrepreneurial project has been selected for physical incubation by an accredited business incubator.
    • Your business has the potential to create employment opportunities, excluding the entrepreneurs included in your application.
    • Your business has the potential to generate a yearly revenue of at least €325,000 or an assets’ value of over €325,000 per year five years after the incubation contract start date.
    • You have the capacity to launch your business while undergoing the program (when applicable).

    If you already have an existing business in your home country and wish to set up a business project in Portugal, you must demonstrate the following:

    • Your business is a part of a Start Up company founded more than four years ago.
    • You will develop economic activities in the country.
    • Your business has the potential to create a minimum of 5 new jobs within two years. This excludes the existing positions of the project’s entrepreneurs.
    • You must hold an executive role and/or equity capital in the company’s act of constitution or voting rights, all of which are at least 10% of social capital.
    • Your company’s legal accounts of the most recent fiscal year before your application reflect a positive net situation.

    To get more clarification for the Portugal Start Up visa, speak to one of our legal experts today by calling: +1 844 290 6312


    What Are The Required Documents For The Start Up Visa?

    The following documents are necessary for the Start Up visa application:

    • Bank statements proving financial support (three months preceding application).
    • Business plan.
    • Criminal record from your home country or country of residence. You must have been living in the country for more than a year.
    • IAPMEI’s declaration affirming the signing of an incubation contract with a certified incubator.
    • Motivation letter demonstrating reasons for choosing to establish a Start Up business in Portugal.
    • Portugal taxpayer number.
    • Project presentation detailing your business idea and strategy.
    • Proof of health insurance.
    • Proof of sufficient means of subsistence.
    • Proof of adequate legal accommodation.
    • Permission for SEF to check Portuguese criminal record.
    • Social security number.
    • Two recent photographs.
    • Valid notarised passport copies or any official travel document.
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      How To Apply For Portugal Start Up Visa As A US Citizen

      The following are the guidelines for the Portugal Start Up visa application process as a US citizen.

      Create a Business Plan

      A Start Up visa aims to attract US Start Up founders with innovative ideas that can accelerate Portuguese economic growth. You must have a business plan that demonstrates your business idea.

      Your business idea must reflect innovation and strategic marketing. Your business must be practical, viable, and scalable in the Portuguese economy and overseas.

      Get All the Require Documents Ready

      Having your documents ready keeps you organized and makes your application process easier. The application is online, so you must have all your documents in soft copies. You can use a scanner or camera to convert your hard-copy documents to soft copies.

      You can submit your documents translated in English or in Portuguese.

      Get the Interest of Certified Incubators

      An incubation contract is a crucial requirement to get a Start Up visa. Take your time to review the list of certified incubators and select the ones that best suit your project goals and development requirement.

      At this stage, you can reach out to more than one. If two or more indicate interest in your project, it’s okay. You can submit the names of the incubators during your application. However, you will have to choose one if your application gets approved.

      The incubators you apply to will consider the following factors:

      • Innovation aspect of your entrepreneurial project.
      • Business growth potential.
      • Business scalability.
      • Prospect of launching your business venture in Portugal once the incubation program is over.

      Create an Account

      The application is online, so you need to create an account on the Start Up Portugal platform (IAPMEI’s online platform). You need to provide your passport and personal details to register your account.

      Apply for the Start Up Visa

      Log in to your account to apply. To apply, you will get a form that requires information on your entrepreneurial project. Follow the instructions and provide accurate information. You are to submit the following along with your application form:

      • Letter of motivation expressing your interest in an entrepreneurial and innovative project in Portugal.
      • Documents proving adherence to the visa requirements.
      • Identification and presentation of your entrepreneurial project, demonstrating the fulfilment of the requirements.
      • Confirmation of one or more certified incubators interested in the incubation of your project.
      • Other required documents.
      Application form on tablet

      What Happens After Applying?

      After completing your application, IAPMEI, I.P will review your application and check if you have met all requirements. The official in charge of your application may contact you for additional information or documents.

      You must submit it within three working days following the request through the online platform.

      If your application is approved, you must sign an incubation contract with one of the incubators that indicated an interest in your project.

      Once you sign the incubation contract, the business incubator must register it through the online platform within five working days. If the incubator does not meet the deadline due to valid reasons that are not attributable to you, your application will not be cancelled.

      As soon as the business incubator registers your incubation contract, the IAPMEI, I.P will upload an online declaration indicating the agreement to incubate.

      What Is The Processing Time For A Start Up Visa?

      It will take the IAPMEI, I.P a maximum of 30 working days to provide the final decision on your application.

      You will get feedback on your account within three working days after the decision.

      You need to check your account for updates consistently.

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        What Does The Incubation Contract Entail?

        Overview of the Incubation Contract

        The incubation contract must cover the following areas:

        • The responsibilities of the entrepreneur.
        • The responsibilities and services of the business incubator.
        • The value of the contract.
        • The person who is responsible for monitoring the incubation program during its validity.

        The Responsibilities of the Entrepreneur

        The following are the responsibilities you must uphold as an entrepreneur:

        • You must participate and complete all the activities of the incubation program as described in the scope of the incubation process.
        • You must provide all the information with the IAPMEI, I.P. and the Foreigner and Border Service (SEF)requires of you and cooperate with its auditing initiatives.
        • You must inform the IAPMEI, I.P. and the Foreigner and Border Service (SEF) about any relevant information or alterations to the requirements.

        The Responsibilities and Services of the Business Incubator

        The following are the responsibilities the business incubator must fulfil during the incubator period:

        • Register the incubation contract after it has been signed.
        • Develop, follow up, and complete a customised incubation plan that schedules and describes the type of support that will be given to the project.
        • Provide mentorship and support services to the Start Up entrepreneurs.
        • Provide a trimestral progress report on the incubation activities.
        • Choose a member of the incubator to oversee the program’s monitoring.
        • Provide all the information with the IAPMEI, I.P and the Foreigner and Border Service (SEF) requires and cooperate with its auditing initiative.

        How Long Is The Incubation Period?

        The incubation contract is valid for one year, after which you can renew it for another year based on the parties’ agreement.

        The incubator must be certified.

        Holding business newspaper

        Can I Travel With My Dependent Family?

        You can travel with your US dependent family with the Start Up visa. Dependents are your family members who rely on you, especially for financial support. Your dependent family members include:

        • Spouse or civil partner.
        • Children below 18 years (under age) or incapacitated children under your guardianship.
        • Adopted minor children. The adoption procedures must have been through a legal process, and the appropriate authority in the country of origin and Portugal must recognise the adoption.
        • Children of 18 years and above under your parental care, financially dependent, and will be studying Portuguese education establishment.
        • Adult children under your parental care, single or studying, during the time of your residence permit.
        • First-degree ascendants such as siblings and Portugal parents financially dependent on you or your spouse.
        • Underage siblings under your tutelage provided the authority in your country of origin, and Portugal recognises such guardianship.

        Requirements For Dependants

        For spouses of US Start Up visa applicants, you must:

        • Be officially married to the visa applicant in a legally binding marriage recognized by the State to apply.
        • Have a clean criminal record to apply.

        Children under 18 don’t need to meet any requirements.

        Children over 18 must:

        • Be unmarried to apply.
        • Still remain financially dependant on the main visa applicant to apply.

        Any parents of the main visa applicant must:

        • Be financially dependant on the main visa applicant to apply.




        Fees Associated With The Portugal Start Up Visa

        The fees associated with the Portugal Start Up Visa may include:

        • Initial application fees
        • Processing fees
        • Residence fees which stand at 5,200 Euros per applicant to prove you can afford to live in Portugal for a year without relying on public funding.
        • Rental fees or property fees.
        • Residence permit fees which are 85.05 Euros per person.
        • Legal and administrative fees such as government fees which stand at 90 Euros per person, and health insurance which costs 400 Euros or more.
        • Possible fees for additional services or assistance.

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          How Can IAS Help?

          Choosing a Portuguese incubator, contacting them, and deciding on a contract favouring your entrepreneurial and innovation goals in Portugal are crucial in the Start Up visa application for US citizens. IAS is a team of lawyers with profound knowledge and experience in the Start Up immigration route of Portugal. We can assist you in getting the best incubator that suits your business needs.

          IAS Application Checking Service is your surest guide to a smooth and successful application. With the aid of our Application Checking Service, you will get assistance in providing accurate information in the application form, motivation letter, and supporting documents.

          Advice Package helps you clear all doubts and confusion during your application. We will evaluate your situation and give you personalised guidance.

          US citizens can visit our website or call us on +1 844 290 6312 for immediate help and assistance with your Start Up application. We’re here to help you in person, via the phone, or online.

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            With our Application Package, your dedicated caseworker will advise you on your application process and eligibility. Your legal advisor will then complete and submit your forms to the Home Office on your behalf.

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                    Frequently Asked Questions

                    StartUp visa does not require an investment in Portugal for residency. You are eligible for a residence permit upon successful application.

                    You can apply through the IAPMEI website and submit your application and other supporting documents using the online platform.

                    Companies that may be suitable for a Portugal Start Up Visa include:

                    • Innovative ventures with potential for growth and job creation. These could encompass various sectors such as technology, digital innovation, renewable energy, healthcare, and more.
                    • Start Ups with scalable business models and a strong potential to contribute to the Portuguese economy are typically favored.
                    • Companies with a commitment to research and development (R&D) and partnerships with Portuguese universities or research institutions may be particularly well-suited for the Portugal Start Up Visa program.