If you are accepted into a Portuguese higher education institution, chances are you will have to apply for a Portugal student visa.

Studying in Portugal is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as you get to enjoy a beautiful sunny country, which is rich in culture and history, make new friends, all while getting a high-level education. Not to mention, Portugal has one of the lowest costs of living in Western Europe.

Learn whether you need a student visa for Portugal, the visa requirements, and the application process.

Do I Need a Visa to Study in Portugal?

Yes, if your study course is longer than three months, you will most likely need a visa to study in Portugal. The visa rules for international students in Portugal depend on the nationality of the student and the duration of the course:

  • For a study course longer than three months:
    • Non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens: Student visa required. You will also need a residence permit.
    • EU/EEA/Swiss citizens: Student visa not required, but you will have to register your stay with the local authorities.
  • For a study course shorter than three months:
    • Non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens: A student visa is required only for nationalities who typically need a Portugal Schengen Visa. People from many countries, such as the U.S., Australia, Canada, can enter Portugal with just their passport for up to three months, during which time they can even take a short study course.
    • EU/EEA/Swiss citizens: Student visa not required.

Portugal Student Visa Requirements

When you apply for a student visa for Portugal, you will have to submit the following documents:

  • Your valid passport (or travel document).
  • Letter of Acceptance from your university.
  • Proof you have paid the tuition fees. If you have a scholarship, submit a document from your university confirming it.
  • Two passport-size pictures, taken recently. They must follow Schengen picture guidelines.
  • Portugal student visa application form. The Embassy will usually provide this for you.
  • Proof you have enough financial means to sustain your stay. This can be either bank statements, a scholarship, proof of financial aid, or proof of sponsorship.
  • Proof you have accommodation in Portugal. This can be a rental contract, accommodation from your university (dorms) or a letter of invitation from a family member/friend with whom you will live in Portugal.
  • A Certificate of Criminal Records.
  • Proof of Schengen travel health insurance. After you arrive in Portugal, you will also have to get adequate health insurance from a private company.

How to Apply for a Portugal Student Visa?

To apply for a Portugal student visa, you have to contact the Portuguese Embassy responsible for your country of residence. You must already have the Letter of Acceptance from your university.  Here is an outline of the application process:

  1. Get the Letter of Acceptance from your university.
  2. Find out where to submit your application. You can find out by visiting the website of the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  3. Schedule an appointment/interview with the Embassy.
  4. Complete the Portugal Student Visa application form.
  5. Collect the documents needed for the application.
  6. Pay the required student visa fee. Again, the Embassy should inform you in regards to the payment method (online, via bank transfer, cash etc).
  7. On the date of your appointment, you must submit the required documents. If the Embassy is in another country, you may be able to mail the documents instead.
  8. Wait for the visa to be processed.
  9. If you receive the visa, you can travel to Portugal.
  10. After you arrive, you must schedule an appointment with the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) to get your residence permit.  The residence permit allows you to live in Portugal for the duration of your studies, although you may need to renew it after one year.

Processing Time for a Portugal Student Visa

It can take anywhere from a few weeks to three months for a student visa to be processed, depending on your country of residence, the specific Embassy, and whether everything is in order with your application. Make sure you start the application process as soon as you receive your acceptance letter from the university.

How Much Does the Portugal Student Visa Cost?

When you apply for a student visa, you have to pay a fee for the visa at the Embassy as well as a residence permit from the SEF:

  • Embassy fee – €90
  • To submit the application for a residence permit at the SEF – €83
  • To receive the residence permit from the SEF – €72

Note: The fees are an approximation and may be subject to change from country to country.

Can I Bring Family Members With Me?

If you are in Portugal with a student visa, then you are allowed to bring your dependent family members to live with you. You must be able to prove that you have enough financial resources to provide for them as well as yourself. The family members who qualify for a family visa are:

  • Your spouse or registered/domestic partner.
  • Your minor children (including adopted children).
  • Your adult (unmarried) children who are dependent on you as a result of an illness or disability.

Your family members may apply alongside you and travel to Portugal together, or they may apply for a reunification visa after you have settled in Portugal.

Duration of a Student Visa in Portugal

After you receive your visa at the Portuguese Embassy, you have to travel to Portugal and apply for a residence permit at the SEF. The residence permit for studying is issued for one year, and you can renew it annually until the end of your studies.

The student visa you receive at the Embassy is only valid for three months and you can use it to travel to Portugal. Within those three months, you have to get your residence permit settled, after which the permit replaces the visa.

Make sure you apply for renewal/extension of the visa at least 30 days before expiry.

Can I Stay in Portugal After My Studies?

You can stay in Portugal once you finish your studies only if you have a job offer. You and your employer must meet the requirements for a Portugal work visa in order for you to switch from a student residence permit to a working residence permit.

If you do find a job, you must apply to switch to a work visa before the student visa expires. The SEF will not accept your application if it is submitted within 30 days before the expiry of the student visa. If the visa does terminate, you will have to return home and apply for a work visa from your home country.

Does a Student Visa Lead to Permanent Residency in Portugal?

The time you lived in Portugal as a student does not count towards permanent residency. In order to become a permanent resident, you will have to get a job offer as a highly-skilled worker and switch to a (temporary) residence permit for work (Work Visa), which is valid for one year and can be renewed for up to five years. After five years of working on a temporary residence permit, you can apply for permanent residency.

Can I Work With a Portugal Student Visa?

Yes, if you have a residence permit for studying in Portugal, you are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during the semester and full-time during semester breaks and holidays. If you are following a short course (up to three months) and only have a Schengen visa, you are not allowed to work.

EU/EEA/Swiss students are allowed to work in Portugal without restrictions.

Can I Study in Portugal With a Dependent Visa?

If you are in Portugal as the family member of a Portuguese citizen or working resident, then you are allowed to study (and work) in Portugal as well.

Student Visa for Researchers

Another type of student visa for Portugal is the researcher visa. The Portugal researcher visa is issued to non-EU citizens who have been accepted into a doctorate level study program or as researchers in an officially recognized institution by the Portuguese Ministry of Education and Science.

When you apply for a researcher visa, you must have one of the following documents, as related to your situation:

  • Contract of employment
  • Contract of services
  • A Scientific Research Scholarship
  • Hosting Agreement