Visas and residence permits

by Dr. Eduardo Serra Jorge [email protected]

In his column, Lawyer Eduardo Serra Jorge from lawyers firm Eduardo Serra Jorge & Maria José Garcia – Sociedade de Advogados, R.L., will be addressing legal issues affecting foreign residents in Portugal.

The legal ways for the entrance, permanent residence, departure and expulsion of foreign citizens in and from Portugal are ruled under the Law n.º 23/2007, from July 4, the Foreigners Law (FL), relating to citizens who come from outside the European Union, the Liechtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland or Norway.

To legally cross Portuguese borders, it is necessary to hold an appropriate entry visa for the purposes that bring the foreign citizen to Portugal and also the means to ensure his/her maintenance while in the country.

The competent controlling Portuguese authority is the SEF – Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras.

Types and purposes of visas granted abroad

Scale visa: Allows the holder/passenger to access the international area of an airport or seaport, when an international connection occurs within the journey.

Transit visa: Allows the holder to enter into Portuguese territory, if he/she comes from a so-called third country to a country in which it is guaranteed his/her admission.

Short-stay visa: Allows the holder to enter into Portuguese territory for the approved purposes that do not fit any other kind of visas, such as the ones for tourism or visiting a family member who holds a temporary-stay visa.

This visa is granted for a maximum validity of one year, for one or more entries, but a single uninterrupted stay or the several staying periods can’t exceed three months by semester, counting from the day when the external border was firstly crossed.

Temporary-stay visa: Allows the holder to enter Portugal for different purposes, such as to receive medical treatment at Portuguese health establishments or to practise an amateur sport, certified by the respective federation, since the club or sports association take responsibility for the holders housing and healthcare, among others disposed on the Article 54th of the FL.

The residence visa: Allows the holder entrance into Portugal in order to apply for residence authorisation.

This visa is valid for two entries into Portugal and its holder can stay for a period of four months.

To grant this visa, the reasons and purposes invoked by the interested party have to be considered as they have to relate to the items mentioned below:

• Professional activity under the direct order of someone else;

• Self-employed professional activity;

• Researching or highly qualified activity;

• Study, students exchange, internships  or volunteering;

• Mobility programmes for higher education students;

• Family reunification.

Residence authorisation

There are two different types of residence authorisation in Portugal: the temporary and the permanent residence.

Once the resident title is given, its holder has some rights to be exercised without needing any special permission, such as having access to education, health, law and court services.

The temporary residence authorisation: a residence title is issued to the foreigner to allow him/her to temporarily reside and, despite of the special legal provisions applicable, this authorisation is valid for one year. The title must be renewed for successive periods of two years, but if there is any identification change, the title must be renewed.

The permanent residence authorisation has no limit of time. The residence title, however, must be renewed every five years or whenever there is a change in the identification. When the title’s holder requests its renewal, he/she doesn’t have to deliver any documents already integrated into the electronic files used by SEF.

To apply for this title, all the legal conditions that basically refer to the valid permanence in Portugal must be verified, at least, for 5 years, and the absence of any fact, if discovered by the authorities, may preclude its issue.

Exceptional situations

Even if the foreign citizen has no legal visa for working in Portugal, it is possible, under the Articles 88th, number 2, and 89th, number 2, of the FL, to apply for an exceptional proceeding to get a residence authorisation in Portugal.

Long-term residents

Citizens from the European Union, Liechtenstein, Iceland, Switzerland or Norway can be given long-term resident status in Portugal if they wish to remain in the country for a period longer than three months but they have to present the conditions to have a stable life in Portugal. The request has to be made with the SEF or the Câmara, along with an identification document and a declaration on the condition to be full-time living in Portugal.

Dr Eduardo Serra Jorge is founding member, senior partner and CEO of lawyers firm Eduardo Serra Jorge & Maria José Garcia – Sociedade de Advogados, R.L., created in 1987. He can be contacted at his Faro office at Gaveto das Ruas Pedro Nunes e José de Matos, 5 R/C, on telephone +351 289 829 326, Fax. +351 289 829 327 or email [email protected] Alternatively, please visit www.esjmjgadvogados.com