Sponsored Feature

HQA Visa: The Faster, More Flexible Path to EU Residency in Portugal

Empowered Startups
IMI Official Partner

Recently, much has been made of the end of the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) tax regime in Portugal, and that’s understandable. The popular scheme has helped entice a great many people to obtain residency in the already desirable European country, and some fear that losing this advantageous tax arrangement coupled with the end of the real estate component of Portugal’s Golden Visa will stymie investment-based immigration.

However, when it comes to tax concerns, there is a better and more advantageous avenue available to accomplished businesspeople who seek to obtain Portuguese residency and citizenship. 

The HQA Visa Program is a fast-track path to EU residency that allows transnational entrepreneurs to seed an option for their future in Portugal while balancing the demands of running their businesses and lives internationally.

Residency approval in weeks rather than years

Unlike the lengthy processing times that currently accompany the Golden Visa, processing is extremely efficient for the HQA Visa: A recent residency permit was issued within four weeks of the applicant’s appointment with AIMA, the new Portuguese immigration authority.

Another obvious advantage is there is no in-country stay requirement for the HQA Visa; Portuguese law provides an exemption for those whose professional demands require them to operate outside the country. What’s more, the required investment for the HQA Visa is significantly less than half of that required by the remaining investment options for the Golden Visa, and there are valuable tax incentives for incoming entrepreneurs. Revenue generated by the new start-up is subject to a flat tax rate of 20% while there is 0% tax paid on foreign-earned income.  

Empowered Startups is the only government-endorsed delivery partner of the HQA Visa and has successfully brought over 70 transnational entrepreneurs to Portugal since the program’s inception.

Through its large network of partnerships with universities and polytechnics around the country, Empowered pairs incoming businesspeople with leading R&D facilities and skilled researchers who will collaborate in launching a new, innovative endeavor.

So, who qualifies, and what does the process look like? 

Making Contact

Upon expressing interest in potential participation in the HQA Visa Program, an individual is contacted by an experienced member of Empowered’s Intake Selection Team to answer any questions about the program and to determine eligibility. 

Qualification for the HQA Visa Program is very straightforward. A successful applicant must have a proven track record of accomplishment in business; a demonstratable ability to provide strategic direction to an innovative venture with the potential for significant growth; and substantiated funds for admission into the program. 

Assuming all three conditions are verified, the individual proceeds to meet Empowered’s Intake Selection Committee, which ultimately issues an invitation to participate in the HQA Visa Program to those who merit an offer. Accepting entry into the program immediately initiates the applicant’s journey toward Portuguese residency and launching their start-up. 

Ideation Phase

Earning residency and getting a start-up off the ground through the HQA Visa Program is facilitated by a dedicated legal and operational team in Portugal. During the ideation phase, Empowered’s Portuguese team collaborates with the entrepreneur to finalize the scope of the innovative R&D project that will become the basis of their new start-up. This includes a determination of which higher institution is best equipped to provide the necessary R&D resources for the start-up during its three-year incubation with Empowered Startups.   

Concurrent to the ongoing development of the start-up, the entrepreneur will be taking steps toward obtaining a residency permit for themself and their family. At the direction of an accomplished immigration lawyer in Portugal, applicants gather all necessary documentation and expressions of support for their innovative R&D project as well as any requisite biographical documents. The lawyer secures an appointment with Portuguese immigration (AIMA) for the entrepreneur, who now has a tangible timeline to plan around. Typically, a confirmed appointment with AIMA falls within four months of the initial acceptance of an offer to pursue an HQA Visa with Empowered Startups.

Taking Flight

Having been in frequent communication with members of Empowered’s skilled team, the entrepreneur travels to Portugal for their appointment with AIMA. Prior to the appointment, the entrepreneur meets with members of Empowered’s legal and operational team to sign a finalized R&D contract. An accomplished immigration lawyer accompanies the entrepreneur to the appointment with AIMA, which is the final step in earning a residency permit in Portugal. Following the appointment, processing for the HQA Visa is remarkably quick; applicants are guaranteed a response within 60 days of the appointment, but in reality, approval is usually granted within 30 days of meeting with AIMA. 

Once the residency permit is granted, the entrepreneur begins their three-year incubation with Empowered Startups and the higher education institution that will partner on the innovative R&D start-up. The initial residency permit is valid for two years after being issued after which it may be renewed for up to three years. Portuguese citizenship can be pursued after a five-year period of residency. 

The HQA Visa Program is a fast, direct path to obtaining residency in Portugal and includes obvious business and financial advantages for transnational entrepreneurs. Find out if you qualify and apply today https://empoweredstartups.com/portugal-apply/