Late in 2022, Portugal announced it would be launching a new Digital Visa to attract more skilled workers to the country. The southern European nation had been struggling with low wages and a brain drain, as skilled individuals sought to migrate to other countries where prospects were better.
Since implementing the idea, internationally mobile, highly talented remote workers have been flocking back, reinvigorating local economies, and pushing up house prices.
It hasn’t all been without controversy, of course. While the Portuguese want to see more rich Americans, British, and Germans flocking to their shores, laptops in hand, they don’t want increasing prices to harm the well-being of ordinary citizens trying to make a living in the country. Prices in Lisbon have been going up, but the cost of living in the rest of the nation is exceptionally low, particularly in regions close to the Spanish border where houses sell for just a few thousand dollars!
How The Digital Nomad Visa Works
The Digital Visa is an extended version of an existing work visa that lets foreigners work in Portugal for up to a year with the opportunity to renew and eventually work towards citizenship. Also called a D7 visa, it has become particularly popular among people working in the IT sector where remote work is rampant and wages are high. Every coffee shop and bar in the country has a data analyst or website developer frantically tapping away in the corner, offering value to clients.
To qualify for the visa, you need to have a minimum income (which isn’t particularly high by American standards, meaning most remote workers can go). You also need to buy health insurance and earn extra for every spouse or dependent you want to bring with you.
Other than that, entry into the country is easy. The application itself is inexpensive, and it only takes embassies a maximum of three weeks or so to get back to you. Furthermore, if you don’t hear back in that timeframe, a rather strange law allows you to assume that you already have the visa (non-rejection is a sign of acceptance), meaning you are free to move to the country.
Of course, if you’re trying to move to Portugal from a country outside of the developed world, you’ll need a Schengen visa. Otherwise, you won’t get through airport security.
Why Is The Digital Visa So Popular
The Digital Visa has become enormously popular for several reasons.
The first is some of the tax breaks on offer in the country. Like other Southern European countries, Portugal is competing to attract the best talent and wants people to move there to reinvigorate its ailing towns and cities. Just like Spain, it is offering a lower introductory tax rate for those who domicile there, helping remote workers keep more of their income.
The Income Requirement Is Low
Also, the income requirement for the Digital Visa is low, a touch over €3,000 per month, which is around £2,500 or $3,100. This means that practically anyone with a professional laptop job can move to the country. It welcomes people with open arms.
The requirements if you bring family with you are a little higher, and you will need to buy private health insurance every month. But even so, most families should be able to move to the country and enjoy a higher standard of living, thanks to the many tax breaks it offers.
The Housing Is Cheap
The Digital Visa is also popular because of how cheap housing is outside Lisbon. Once you are thirty miles outside the capital, prices begin falling rapidly and the country becomes much more rural. If you go to places like Beira Alta and Beira Baixa, you can pick up properties that are cheaper than most people’s cars. Yes, you’ll need to do a little renovation work, but the opportunities are almost endless.
Better yet, many of these properties are close to national parks. That means you can spend your spare time exploring the country’s stunning natural wildernesses.
There’s Plenty Of Support
You can also get plenty of support for moving to Portugal. Foreigners can benefit from the nation’s ranks of lawyers, all offering comprehensive relocation services to people wanting to move to the country.
These take care of practically everything for migrants wanting to live in the country. Lawyers process the required visa documentation, set up accommodations, and help people find health insurance that meets their needs.
The available support is extensive no matter where you want to go in the country. And many law firms have people on the ground who can assist with property purchases and obtaining mortgages.
Another reason the Digital Visa is attracting so many skilled workers to Portugal is the fast-track residency. The scheme enables people to live in Portugal indefinitely, sooner than is otherwise possible through alternative means.
Fast-track residency is usually available in just a few weeks, which is considerably faster than it is for other parts of the EU. Once migrants are in the block, they can travel freely between countries, exploring the whole region at their leisure, without having to constantly perry about their time running out and having to go home.
Pathway To Citizenship
The Digital Visa is also a pathway to citizenship, meaning digital nomads can eventually become citizens in Portugal, increasing their freedom to travel around the world, own multiple passports, and stay in the country for as long as they want.
Portuguese citizenship also brings the additional advantage of being able to move freely throughout the EU. You can drive from the country into Spain, then France and the rest of the continent, or take the fabulous rail lines to where you want to go.
Ultimately, Portugal’s Digital Visa is a win-win for the local population and those wanting to move to the country and experience its beautiful landscape. Everyone benefits from the new influx of money and talent, driving demand for local businesses and improving the country’s prospects as a whole.