A growing economy, great employee benefits, and a surplus of jobs — Portugal is quickly becoming one of the top countries in Europe for foreign tech talent. Portugal introduced the Tech Visa program to make it easier for companies to bring international tech talent to Portugal. Before you can make use of this program, however, you need to get certified.
Technology is rapidly progressing and there is a gap in the market for suitable employees. Many countries, including the UK, France, Chile, and Greece have visa programs to attract qualified human resources in the fields of tech and innovation. Portugal, too, has joined the list.
The Portugal Tech Visa program is addressed to companies that wish to attract highly qualified and specialised talent to the country. The aim of the program is to ease the hiring and immigration process.
Given that the Portuguese government is supportive of immigration and foreign investment, many highly-skilled professionals consider moving to this country for a better future. In just three years, the Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation said that thousand of foreign nationals have been granted this visa, 93% of those are working in the field of computer science.
As this program eases the administrative burden of visas, many companies are in favour of it. In fact, people working in the fields of tech are interested in moving to Portugal as it is becoming a hub for tech companies. The favourable climate, safety, and relatively lower cost of living make the country more desirable for immigrants.
If you want to hire talent through this process, read this article for more details. We will cover:
- What is the Tech Visa program?
- How to get certified as a company
- Factors to consider before recruiting foreign staff
- Who is considered a highly qualified worker?
- Documents required for the Tech Visa application
What is the Tech Visa program?
In January 2019, Portugal launched its Tech Visa program, enabling companies to hire highly-skilled and specialised workers in the fields of technology and innovation. Through this certification program, companies operating in a global market place can employ nationals outside the Schengen area in a simplified manner. If you want to hire talent under this program, you must:
- Have a registered office or permanent establishment in Portugal
- Be operating internationally
- Be certified under the Tech Visa program
The goal of the Tech Visa is to increase the inflow of specialised staff to certified global companies situated in Portugal. While this program eases the residence visa and permit process, it is not for companies operating only domestically or in their initial stages.
How to get your company certified for the Tech Visa program
Companies that are certified for the Tech Visa program can effortlessly accelerate their growth as they can easily hire global talent. Obtaining this certification is a worthy investment for tech companies that are aiming to expand.
IAPMEI is responsible for assessing the companies and granting certifications. To become one of the certified companies, every company must fulfil the following criteria:
- It must be legally established in Portugal
- It must be free of social security and/or tax debts
- It should not have outstanding salary payments to its employees
- It should not be under the process of restructuring
- It must identify with the technical areas of qualification intended for the Tech Visa according to the National Qualifications Catalogue
- It provides goods and/or services internationally
- It obtains a positive evaluation and gets identified as "market potential" or "orientation towards external markets”
If the company was established three years ago or more, it must have a positive net situation, per the latest available Informacao Empresarial Simplificada (IES).
Once your company is qualified to apply for the Tech Visa certification, you can create an account and fill out the application online at the IAPMEI portal. There is no application fee for the certification. When you apply for the Tech Visa to hire a highly-skilled worker, you can expect an answer on the application within 20-23 working days. Compared to other countries, Portugal has a quick processing time.
Once your company has been certified, you can issue a digital term of responsibility at www.iapmei.pt. This will be later presented by the worker at the Consular Posts/Embassy and Border Control Services to get the residence Tech Visa program D3 visa and later the respective residence permit.
Factors to consider before recruiting foreign staff
Once your company has been certified, it will hold its status for the next two years. While the program streamlines the recruitment process and makes it easier for employers to tackle the labor shortage, it comes with a few restrictions. These restrictions were set in place to check that employers remain responsible towards their staff.
To ensure that this program is used for its intended purposes, the authorities have made a few rules.
1. 50% Recruitment Ceiling
The Portuguese government has put a recruitment ceiling of 50% for the Tech Visa program. This means that no certified company can recruit more than half of the total employee strength of the organisation through this program. This is relatively liberal considering other countries. For example, in Singapore, the recruitment ceiling is fixed at 20%.
2. Minimum Mandatory Wage
There is a mandatory minimum wage, which is higher than the general minimum wage, that companies are obligated to pay the staff recruited through the Tech Visa program. The wage should be equivalent to 2.5 times the Index of Social Support (IAS). For example. IAS in 2022 is 443.20/ Thus, the minimum mandatory wage will be 443.20 x 2.5 = 1108 euros/ month.
Who is considered a highly qualified worker
The Tech Visa program aims at inviting experts in the fields of technology and innovation to work in Portugal. As it is not targeted at fresh graduates or professionals who are just starting their careers, the eligibility standards are considerably high.
To qualify for the residency permit under the Tech visa, the potential hire must:
- Be a third-country national. They must not be permanent residents of the Schengen area
- Be at least 18 years old
- Have a clear criminal record
- Have no pending tax obligations
- Have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent – level 6, according to ISCED 2011, or level 5 (tertiary level education).
- Have at least 5 years of experience in specialised technical functions
- Be proficient in English, Portuguese, French, or Spanish
Besides the statement of responsibility by the certified company, other documents such as the employment contract need to be provided.. You must ensure that your candidate has the following documents before they file for the residency permit:
- A work or service provider contract (provided by the recruiter)
- Statement of responsibility provided by a certified company as per law
- Professional certificate for highly qualified professions
- The proof of means signed by the hosting company
- Proficiency certificate in Portuguese, English, French, or Spanish
- No criminal record certificate
- Five-year experience in a specialised technical field
- Bachelor's education or equivalent level – level 6, according to ISCED 2011
The bottom line
To strengthen its evolving innovation and tech ecosystem, the Portuguese government has taken a few initiatives to make recruitment of non-EU skilled workers easier. The Tech Visa program is a part of this undertaking. It will enable certified companies to overcome labor shortages and focus on growth. The hiring of specialised workers will have a positive impact on the overall tech sector of the country.
The regulatory bodies aim at making the entire process simplified but there are still a number of rules and regulations that companies must abide by diligently. From getting the company registered to looking after the visa application process of the new recruit, companies need dedicated teams to follow up the entire process.
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