Studying in Portugal has become a dream for more and more Brazilians. The high quality of their universities, the ease of the language, the cultural proximity and the low cost of living - compared to the European standard, are some of the main factors that attract Brazilian students to the country.
And this dream has also become a reality for an increasing number of Brazilian students: according to recent data, Brazilians are now the largest foreign population living in Portugal, and Brazilian students already represent ⅓ of the foreigners studying in the country. If you have many questions, click here to speak now with an expert.
If you are part of this group of Brazilians interested in studying in Portugal, understand how the student visa works for the country, who can apply and what documents are necessary for the application. Shall we go there?
How the student visa for Portugal works
In order to attract foreign citizens to the country who are looking for new academic challenges, Portuguese legislation foresees a special visa, called "residence visa for study", more popularly known as "student visa" for Portugal.
This visa allows the holder and his/her family to enter the Portuguese territory in order to apply for the subsequent Residence Permit.
Check here what are the types of visa for Portugal and documents required.
Who can apply for the visa?
This visa is specially designed for foreign citizens who wish to become students of higher education in Portugal for a period of more than one (1) year. Tickets to university and polytechnic education in public and private institutions are considered valid for this purpose.
Therefore, please note that if you intend to take a course of more than 3 months but less than or equal to 1 (one) year, you will need to apply for a Temporary Stay Visa for study, not a Residence Visa for study.
Although not the focus of this article, we highlight that it is also possible to apply for a residence visa for high school students, interns, volunteers and researchers.
Visa application procedures
As a rule, the procedure until obtaining legal residence in Portugal is composed of two phases: the first one at the Visa Application Centre of Portugal in the country of residence, and the second one at the Foreigners and Borders Service - SEF, in Portugal.
In the first stage the interested party will need to attach all the necessary documentation to the visa application for Portugal, as well as fill in the forms, declarations and authorizations indicated for that purpose, to be submitted to the Visa Application Centre of Portugal through the VSF Global website. Since April 2019 the visa application is no longer made through the Consulates.
Documents required to apply for a student visa for Portugal
To apply for a student visa for Portugal, you must present a series of documents, among which:
- Letter of acceptance issued by the Portuguese educational institution or registration;
- Statement signed by the student himself stating his objectives (recommended);
- Proof of means of subsistence, such as Income Tax Return, proof of scholarship or financial responsibility signed by a family member;
- International travel medical insurance or PB4;
- Proof of lodging, such as university housing declaration, rental contract or letter of invitation;
- Criminal record check;
- Authorization for consultation of the Portuguese criminal record by the Foreigners and Borders Service;
- 02 recent 3×4 color photos;
- A copy of a valid passport with a period of at least one year and three months;
- Declaration of science that you should not travel to Portugal without a visa;
- Copy of identity document;
- Copy of the registration and tuition fees (monthly), where applicable;
- Duly completed visa application form.
After analysing the documents and interviewing on the day and time scheduled, the person concerned will be notified whether or not the visa application has been approved and, if it is approved, the visa will be affixed to his/her passport, which will allow him/her to travel to Portugal and apply for a residence permit.
It is important to highlight that the residence visa is a temporary document, valid for 4 months, and that it is used so that its holder can enter Portugal and apply for the Residence Permit. Find out all about what it is like to study in Portugal and the best universities.
Do you need to take out private travel insurance?
Not as a rule.
PB4 is accepted as proof of medical care in the country for Study Visa purposes. However, it is important to always be aware of any new requirements from the Portuguese Consulates.
It should be noted that the PB4 does not offer coverage for body transfer in the event of death on the outside or coverage with problems with the suitcases either delay or loss.
In addition, please note that PB-4 does not cover medical care in other countries in Europe. Therefore, if you intend to travel to other countries on the continent, private protection is the best solution.
How long does the student visa for Portugal take
The duration of the student visa for Portugal varies according to each Visa Application Centre (VFS Portugal) responsible for the region you live in.
With the changes established by Decree 111/2019, since April 2019 the deadline for decisions on applications for visas and residence permits for foreign students is now 30 days. However, the deadline may be longer if there is any problem with the documentation.
However, in practice, the visa has been delivered within 60 days if there are no problems with the documentation. However, the time may be longer if the application has been made at festive times and the beginning of the school year.
When to start the visa process to study in Portugal?
The school year in Portugal starts in September, but ideally you should start your application planning early in the year. This is because, to enter higher education in Portugal, there are usually 3 stages of application:
1st phase: phase in which there is a greater number of vacancies (normally open in the period from January to March);
2nd phase: phase in which there are fewer vacancies (normally open in April and May);
3rd phase: phase of the remaining vacancies, that is, sometimes this phase may not even open, if all the vacancies have been filled in the previous phases (when it occurs, it is usually opened in June and July).
Also get to know the D7 visa, which allows you to live on retirement or income in Portugal.
How much does a student visa for Portugal cost?
Consular fees vary according to the type of visa.
Check the values applicable to the Study Visa, remembering that the Processing Fee is calculated monthly based on the exchange rate variation, and may therefore undergo regular changes:
|Seen||Consular Fee||Transfer Fee||Processing fee||Total|
|Residence visa (over 1 year)||R$ 424,40||R$ 15,27||R$ 114,49||R$ 554,16|
Exemption from taxes for those who have a CAPES scholarship
Students with scholarships from CAPES or the Portuguese State are entitled to exemption from some visa application fees.
Visa fees are also waived for students who will do doctoral and post-doctoral projects in the country. In this case, the applicant must have signed a contract with a higher education institution or Portuguese research centre.
What to do when you arrive in Portugal
With the student visa for Portugal approved, the applicant must schedule a residence permit with SEF within four months of arrival in Portugal.
The appointment can be made via telephone (the online appointment is still being implemented for holders of residence visas), consult the SEF website. After that, on the day and time scheduled, the applicant must go to the SEF's service station with the visa and all the documents.
If the application is approved, the applicant will receive a residence card valid for one year and renewable for equal periods if the holder continues to fulfil the conditions for the grant.
Did you know that those who have been granted a residence permit for study, after the end of the course, can enjoy another 1 (one) year of residence permit, to look for work or create a company in national territory compatible with their qualifications?
And the best news: after 5 years of legal residence in the country, the holder of a residence card can apply for his Portuguese citizenship for the duration of residence.
What about my family?
The holder of a residence permit for study has the right to have the members of his family living or dependent on him "reunited" in Portugal. In other words, they may live together with the holder of the residence permit in Portugal for as long as the latter remains in the country, and this applies to the following family members:
- The spouse or partner (who lives in a proven stable union, or de facto union as it is called in Portugal);
- the minor or incapacitated children of the couple or of one of their spouses/partners;
- Minors adopted by the applicant when unmarried, by the applicant or by the spouse, by decision of the competent authority of the country of origin, provided that the law of that country recognises rights and duties identical to those adopted for natural affiliation and that the decision is recognised by Portugal;
- Unmarried children who are minors or incapacitated, including the adopted children of the de facto partner, provided they are legally entrusted to him/her.
The application for family reunification is made in Portugal, with the SEF, and the applicant must prove his relationship with the holder of the residence permit, as well as, that he has accommodation and means of subsistence.
If the application for "reunification" is approved, the family member will also receive a residence card, usually of the same duration as the applicant.
Visa waiver residence permit?
The standard, ideal and safest procedure is the prior application for a visa and its subsequent "conversion" into a residence permit.
However, at the end of 2017, Portuguese legislation was amended and allowed foreign citizens who do not hold a residence visa for study to apply directly for a residence permit to study in Portugal. In other words, dispensing with the prior obtaining of the visa as a necessary condition to obtain the residence permit.
For such an exceptional request to be viable, the foreign citizen must present all the documentation proving his/her student status and having legally entered Portugal (which may occur as a tourist, for example), as well as the Criminal Record of the country of his/her nationality or the country in which he/she has resided for more than 1 (one) year and comply with some other requirements provided by law.
Can I work on a student visa for Portugal?
Yes! Portuguese law has also recently been amended in this sense. In the past it was possible for students of higher education to work in Portugal with the prior permission of SEF, which was not always allowed. The legal change made it easier for the foreign student to work.
Now the holder of a residence permit issued to students of higher education may exercise a subordinate or independent professional activity, provided that they notify SEF in advance, accompanied by an employment contract or a declaration of commencement of activity with the tax authorities as well as proof of registration with the Social Security together with a declaration of the University that also maintains its status as a student.
Is it possible to change the student visa for work?
It is possible to change the residence permit from study to work in Portugal. However, to make such a change, the applicant must have completed the course for which he applied for the study residence permit and fulfil all the necessary requirements for the granting of the residence permit for work in Portugal.
Author: Roberta Fraser
Citizenship & Immigration
*The information contained in this Article shall be provided in a general and abstract manner and shall not replace consultation and qualified professional assistance addressed to the specific case. The content of this article may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without the express permission of the author.