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What is the Portugal HQA Visa?

The HQA Visa, which stands for Highly Qualified Activities Visa, provides the chance for professionals with high qualifications to participate in research and development projects of renowned Portuguese research institutions and create their company and business by investing EUR 175,000. The invested EUR 175,000 covers both the amount required for the business expenses and the fees needed for the visa application. The Portuguese business incubators that have been approved by the government, such as Empowered Startups Portugal, must ensure the business’s participation in the first three years of its startup.

What makes HQA visa unique compared to other startup visas is that there are no obligations or requirements concerning business performance or job creation. However, similar to Golden Visa, it allows for indirect or passive investments and requires very little physical presence. On the bright side, the process of reviewing applications for the HQA visa takes place more quickly than the time it takes for the Golden Visa to be issued.

Furthermore, it takes 5 years to become a permanent resident. As mentioned above, the minimum amount required for investment is EUR 175,000. The conditions regarding physical presence are not specific, nevertheless, it is recommended to at least be present for a week each year to help the eventual naturalization. Obtaining citizenship allows one to freely travel to 187 countries, including those who require a Schengen visa and the United States.

Summary of the HQA program requirements:

The applicants interested in this must invest at least EUR 175,000 into a new corporation. In addition, their startup company must be supported by and under the observation of an HQA-approved business incubator.

The EUR 175,000 paid by the investor includes the fees for visa applications and the costs and expenses concerning the creation of the company. It should be deposited into a Portuguese bank account by the investor.

There is the option of handling the business indirectly by hiring managers and employees who oversee the professional operations.

If the investor is married, they have the option to include their wife or husband and two other people or children that are dependent on them in their visa request and application.

The HQA program is highly flexible and it is known as one of the fastest ways of obtaining a Portuguese passport. That is why it is favored by a lot of entrepreneurs who are interested in investing in Europe and have an eye on the European market.

In the event of the rejection of the visa, the entire investment will be refunded to the applicant. Nevertheless, it should be mentioned that it would be a rare incident and the chances of the rejection of the application are usually low.

What are the most prominent advantages of this program?

  1. One of the most noteworthy advantages of this program is that it allows investors to travel back and forth to the Schengen countries. However, it does not permit settlement.
  2. The application and decision timelines are so much faster compared to the other options.
  3. Obtaining an HQA visa is a safe way to becoming a Portuguese citizen. All participants in the HQA program are welcome to apply for permanent residency and citizenship after 5 years.
  4. The fact that there are limited and minimal requirements for one’s presence, allows investors to make decisions about their life and settlement more freely.
  5. Individuals with dual or multiple citizenship are free to apply.
  6. The living expenses in Portugal are affordable.
  7. The country’s climate is very warm and pleasant.
  8. Portugal offers security and safety to its residents and citizens.
  9. There are excellent education facilities and opportunities for both children and adults, making Portugal a great country to invest in for applicants who have families or plan on enjoying the educational benefits themselves.
  10. The success of the startup can create a great resume and provide you with more business and investment opportunities across Europe and the Schengen countries.

The HQA incubation process and the path to citizenship

We’re going to explain the steps that an applicant needs to take regarding the incubation process and citizenship in the following:

  1. The business incubator provides a contract of service agreement which needs to be signed by the investor/business owner.
  2. The required amount, which is EUR 175000, needs to be deposited into a Portuguese bank account.
  3. Individuals who are interested in research and development projects need to find a university that is interested in their academic proposal. Once the university backs the project, the investment fee will be used as its funding.
  4. In this stage, the applicant should get an official endorsement from the university, which is a required document for the Portugal HQA visa application.
  5. Once the processing is done and the visa is approved and issued, you will be granted a permit for your residency in Portugal. Keep in mind that the initial HQA visa will no longer be valid after 4 months. That’s why obtaining a residence permit is crucial.
  6. With the permits and the documentation ready, your project can begin. It has a minimum business incubation period of three years.
  7. After three years of residency, the official residency permit needs to be renewed. The renewed permit allows for another two years of residency.
  8. Once the five-year mark is reached, the applicant has the option of applying for permanent residency and citizenship. Those interested in the Portuguese residency are required to take the Portuguese language exam.

What types of individuals is the Portugal HQA visa suitable for?

The HQA visa is a great opportunity for wealthy individuals who have a drive for entrepreneurship. Moreover, those who are already successful business owners who would like to see it expand and flourish in Europe can take this chance to extend their assets. The five years of work that this program requires can also lead to becoming eligible for a Portuguese passport and enjoying the benefits of being a citizen in a European country.

Furthermore, successful individuals in academia can take advantage of this opportunity to become involved in entrepreneurship, research, and development. Their talents can contribute to European startups that are focused on research. 

The HQA is one of the most affordable investment avenues and allows you to hire other professionals to manage your business and assets. The flexibility of this program allows you to make wise business decisions that can generate a profit and return on your investments.

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