The HQA Visa promises to be an alternative solution to the well-known Golden Visas due to the reduced requirement regarding the minimum periods of stay in Portugal. Is this the case?
Before explaining this new type of visa, let us explain the context in which it emerged.
Portugal continues to experience a growing influx of migrants. However, the limit on the minimum length of stay in the national territory is a factor that weighs on the decision of those wishing to move to the country.
Residence Permits for Investment Activities, popularly known as Golden Visas, emerged in 2012 with the benefit of breaking the barriers inherent to mandatory periods of stay, as, by the provisions of Article 65-C of Regulatory Decree 84/2007, the holder of this type of residence permit needs to remain in national territory for an average annual period of 7 days.
It turns out that the popular Golden Visas, as set out in Article 90-A of Law 23/2007, not only entail very large capital spending for investors but, in recent times, have seen their survival questioned in some respects (we’ve written about it here).
Considering these factors, the “HQA VISA” has been hailed as a much more cost-effective solution that encompasses the benefits of Golden Visas. This means that, with a considerably lower investment, the holders of the “HQA Visa” would not have to comply with mandatory minimum periods of stay in national territory, acquire the possibility to circulate throughout the Schengen area without limitations and, after 5 years, give its holder the possibility to apply for the attribution of Portuguese nationality.
But is the HQA Visa all that? The answer is: yes and no.
The truth is that the HQA VISA, which is nothing more than the Residence Visa for Highly Qualified Workers, is not a low-cost alternative to Portuguese Golden Visas.
Once a residence permit has been granted in any of its modalities, except in the case of Golden Visas, the foreign resident still must comply with certain minimum stay rules in the national territory to ensure that his/her residence permit is not canceled.
According to paragraph a) of no. 2 of article 85 of Law no. 23/2007, of July 4, during the valid period of the temporary residence permit, its holder must not leave the country for a period exceeding six consecutive months or eight interposed months. The granting of permanent residence also requires compliance with the periods of stay in the national territory, this time by the provisions of paragraph b) of paragraph 2 of Article 85 of the Aliens Act.
According to this legal provision, the holder of permanent residence, which is valid for 60 months, may not be absent from the country for a period exceeding 24 consecutive months or 30 interpolated months.
However, there are several exceptions to the obligation to comply with these deadlines and which, as exceptions, do not result in the cancellation of the residence permit. The existence of weighty reasons of a personal, family, or professional nature that led to the need to be absent from the country for periods longer than those mentioned above, does not affect the maintenance of the residence permit of the third-country national.
Therefore, if the highly qualified worker holding the “HQA VISA” is absent from the country for periods longer than those indicated above and these absences are justified with professional reasons and documented, he/she should not be disadvantaged.
This exception applies not only to Residence Permits for Highly Qualified Workers but also to all other types of Residence Permits. This exceptionality, which allows the absence of the holders of these residence permits for longer periods, can never be confused with the flexibility inherent in Residence Permits for Investment activity.
If you have any questions regarding these types of visas, residence permits, or any other, please do not hesitate to contact our team of lawyers.