Becoming a full resident in the second largest country in the Iberian Peninsula is possible after 5 years after the issuance of a national visa. This is a single term covering all categories of persons. Even Golden Residence Permit holders must wait five years but on preferential terms. The chain of obtaining this status also remains unchanged: residence visa – residence permit or permanent residence – Portuguese citizenship. As usual, valuable information is contained in the nuances. The essential aspects: terms, rates, requirements, and others; on the way to citizenship will be discussed below.

Who gets a Portuguese passport?

Conventionally, applicants for local citizenship can be divided into five categories. Each group has its way of obtaining a Portuguese passport:

1.        Naturalization. The most popular approach. The applicant must have lived legally in the country for at least 5 years.

2.        Kinship. This group includes persons born in the country or with a Portuguese mother/dad.

3.        Marriage. A sufficient condition is being in marital “status” for at least 3 years.

4.        Persons with a significant contribution to the development of the state. This practice of issuing a national passport is typical for many countries.

5.        Persons who have lost their citizenship for any reason.

Another category includes descendants of Sephardim, a subethnic group of Jews who previously lived on the Iberian Peninsula. Considering the differences in the procedures for acquiring citizenship, let us examine each of the methods mentioned above separately.

Naturalization

A D1 to D7 residency visa is necessary for a long-term (90 days and more) stay in Portugal. The actual processing time of submitted documents for it takes from 2 weeks. The maximum waiting time for a response is 60 days. The visa fee is 90 euros; the fee is waived for:

– students who receive a scholarship from foundations in Portugal;

– highly qualified academic specialists;

– patients (together with accompanying persons) whose treatment is part of a local health program.

Recently it has become possible to apply for a visa and attach the necessary documents remotely through the E-VISA service of the official website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal.

Instructions for working with e-consulate

Firstly, it is required to visit the site of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Portugal. There are only two options available on the homepage – Portuguese and English. Immediately you can choose a convenient language.

1.        Switch to the E-VISA tab.

2.        On a new page, you can change the language again because the Ukrainian and Russian options appear.

You have to authorize yourself on the site. Register by following the instructions (orange arrow), or log in with your username and password (green markers).

4.        Choose the section “To apply for a visa”.

5.        Consistently answer all questions, choosing an option from the box on the right.

After filling out the electronic form, you will see two lists of documents required for the visa application. First comes the standard set.

Below is a list of additional documentation (orange outline) and certificates and conditions (green marker) required for a particular type of visa. This information is published in English or Portuguese only.

At the bottom of the page, you will find the button “Form”; click on which you will launch the electronic application form for work visas.

The application form contains several tabs. You need to fill in the required fields on each of them.

You may upload pictures and digital copies of required documents in the “Extras” tab.

The “Record” section allows you to choose the day and time for your interview at the Consular Section. The “Submit” button completes the request procedure.

Important. If you indicated Ukraine as the country of permanent residence, you’ll see a message that this visa type is not available at the Consular Section.

This message is not erroneous. Indeed, the consular section of the Portuguese embassy in Ukraine has no visa center. However, the documents are accepted there personally. Accordingly, E-VISA service focuses on Ukrainians in the countries with visa centers at the Portuguese consulate.

To apply in Kiev, it is necessary to make an appointment by email at sconsular.kiev@mne.pt. Working hours are 09:00 – 13:00, 14:00 – 17:00 from Monday to Friday.

Residence Permit or Permanent Residence

A residence permit is a next step on the path to citizenship through naturalization. The issue should be dealt with after arrival in Portugal. The date of the interview at the SEF will complement the visa stamp.

The residence permit is temporary, initially for 12 months. It can then be renewed twice for two years each time. Permanent residency is available after five years of legal residence.

There is a common misconception that Portuguese citizenship is achieved after permanent residence. Permanent residence is not a necessary step in this chain; you can get by with its temporary counterpart.

Important. The critical requirement to apply for citizenship is to legally reside in Portugal for 5 years.

An additional prerequisite – to stay in the country for at least 183 days a year, applies only to the residence permit. Otherwise, it does not matter what residency status (temporary or permanent) the applicant has. The advantages of permanent residence over a residence permit in Portugal are not so significant:

1.        There is no need to renew the residency status. Permanent residence is granted indefinitely; the residence permit is valid for no more than two years.

2.        Restrictions on the annual time of stay in the country are removed. You can forget about the rule of 183 days.

The second point does not apply to all temporary residence permit holders categories. Holders of a “golden visa” are enough to stay in Portugal at least 7 days a year.

Family ties

Immediately note that the family reunification program is not included in this category. For Family reunification is issued long-term visa D6, and the documents are submitted by a family member already legally residing in the country.

Children are the primary applicants for citizenship due to family ties. There are four situations in which this requirement applies:

1.        Children were born in another country, but one of the relatives (parents, grandparents) has a Portuguese passport.

2.        Minors. Obligatory requirements are to have been born in Portugal and to have lived in the country for at least 10 years.

Minor children from foster families. Parents must be Portuguese.

4.        Children whose mother and father are foreigners. Both parents must reside in Portugal, and one of them has a residence permit for at least two years.

Important. The birth of a child in Portugal does not automatically give the baby citizenship. Similarly, the passport does not provide its foreign parents. In this case, the standard naturalization procedure applies, requiring five years of residence in the country.

All the above cases are summarized by the need to provide your own legalized birth certificate and an application for Portuguese citizenship.

The situation determines the other set of documents. Usually, a relative’s birth certificate makes it possible to obtain a Portuguese passport. In most cases, a criminal record certificate from the country where the applicant resided after age 16 is required. Adapted children need a court order for adoption. Please follow this link to view the complete application package for each of the above situations.

So far, the following list is relevant:

– a completed questionnaire;

– birth certificate (apostille);

– a copy of the residence permits in Portugal;

– a document confirming legal residence in Portugal for at least five years;

– certificate of passing the exam in Portuguese at level A2;

– certificate of criminal record issued in Portugal.

Marriage

Portugal recognizes both types of union. You can be in a formal or common-law marriage. This method of obtaining a Portuguese passport is not available to people who:

– hold a public office in another country;

– have served in a foreign army under contract;

– participated in terrorist activities;

– have been convicted of crimes punishable in Portugal for 3 years or more.

The list of documents required for citizenship includes a marriage certificate. In the case of cohabitation, a certificate of a court decision recognizing the fact of cohabitation for the last three (or more) years must be presented. Additional required documents:

– birth certificates of both partners;

– proof of nationality;

– certificate of no criminal record in the country of the previous stay from the age of 16 years.

It is also desirable to have a non-military service certificate if the fact occurred.

Sephardic Roots

A law granting citizenship to an ethnic group of Jews was passed in 2015. Proof of belonging to this category of persons in Portugal is considered to be:

– cefadian surname;

– knowledge of the ethnic culture and command of the Ladino language;

– a certificate from the Sephadic community (issued by a rabbi).

One of the advantages of this method is that there is no requirement to know the local language. In other cases, knowledge of Portuguese is a prerequisite. Family members of a Sephad Jew can also obtain citizenship, but two years after the issuance of the passport to the principal resident.

Where to apply for citizenship

Requests are accepted by the National Migrant Support Centers in Lisbon and Porto. You can also submit your application to the following authorities:

– the civil registry office at the place of current residence;

– central and other civil registry offices;

– Consulate of Portugal;

– The National Office of the Central Archives of Porto.

Alternatively, the application can be sent by mail, indicating as recipient: a Conservatória dos Registos Centrais, Rua Rodrigo da Fonseca, 198, 1099-003 Lisboa, Portugal.

Cost

The standard fee for a citizenship request is 250 euros. When visiting in person, payment is made directly on the spot by bank card. When the application is sent by mail, the documents must be accompanied by check for the specified amount.

A lower rate is allowed in two cases. An amount of 200 euros is payable for citizenship for a minor child with disabilities whose parents were foreigners at their birth. The mother or father must have a Portuguese passport at the time of the application.

A contribution of 175 euros is required for the loss of nationality by a minor or incapacitated person at the will of his or her representative. This amount is charged only to applicants who are over the age of 18 at the time of the request. For minors, citizenship is restored free of charge. A similar benefit with a zero rate is available in several other situations:

– children from another country adopted as minors by Portuguese parents after 1981;

– forced change of nationality;

– marriage to a foreigner before 1981.

In the latter case, it is implied that the marriage caused the move and the change of nationality.

Timeline

Analysis of feedback from Ukrainians who obtained Portuguese citizenship shows that the waiting time for a passport is from 8 to 18 months. Therefore, it is recommended to set yourself up for 1 year. In principle, this is a short period for those who have already lived in Portugal for 5 years.

Upcoming changes

This paragraph focuses on the audience who will obtain a permanent residence or passport in Portugal in 2023. The reason is the abolition of the SEF, scheduled for the end of 2022. The immigration powers of the agency will be delegated to the immigration agency. The institution’s full name in Portuguese is Agência Portuguesa para as Migrações e Asilo. The agency will have the power to:

– control the entry and stay of foreigners;

– to issue opinions on applications for residence permits;

– to approve the granting of asylum and refugee status.

Interestingly, the Institute for Registration and Notarial Affairs (IRN) will be responsible for renewing residence permits.

Summary

It is possible to become a Portuguese citizen by naturalization, through marriage or local relatives (only relevant for children), and in several other situations. The documents required for the application are available on the websites of the relevant institutions. The application takes up to six months to be processed and costs the applicant 250 euros.

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