Expression of interest in Portugal


Have you thought about living in Portugal and you cannot find an appropriate way because of your immigration status? The expression of interest is the perfect option for your situation, it will be necessary to first go to Portugal, either as a tourist or with a study visa and settle for a while in the country, residing for a while in an irregular situation.

After the time has elapsed, it will be possible to contact the SEF (Foreigners and Borders Service) by means of a letter, openly stating the person’s intention to settle legally and change his/her immigration status in order to obtain a permanent residence permit in Portugal, provided that one of two conditions is met:

  • Getting a job
  • Self-employed (Independent)

This authorization implies the possibility of obtaining a visa even if there are prior restrictions by the competent authorities, it is no longer possible to be expelled from the country and the other Schengen countries will not be notified.

It is now also possible to carry out this procedure virtually through SAPA, but it is also possible to make this request in person.

The documents required for this procedure are:

  • Passport or other valid travel document.
  • Proof of regular entry into Portuguese territory.
  • Means test.
  • Criminal record certificate from the country of origin and from any country in which he/she has resided for more than one year.
  • Authorization for consultation of Portuguese criminal records by the SEF.
  • Documentation that proves you have an accommodation.

In addition, if you are a dependent worker:

  • Proof of registration and regularized situation in the Social Security, unless you only have a contract of promise of employment.
  • Registration with the Tax Administration. (NIF)
  • Employment contract or promise of employment contract.

And if you are self-employed:

  • Document that can prove the incorporation of a company that protects the law and that declares the beginning of the activity before the Tax Administration and Social Security as a natural person or contract for the provision of services for the exercise of a liberal profession.
  • Qualification for independent professional activity

For this procedure it is strongly advised to know how to manage time well, as it takes about 2 years for approval by the SEF. During the time the application is being evaluated, the applicant will have irregular status in Portugal. You will be able to live and work in the country, but you will not be able to leave.

Once the SEF sends confirmation of your application, you must attend an appointment and with updated documentation in case you have made any changes over time: if you changed jobs, the new employment contract; if you moved house, the new address; among others.

It is possible to study but, at a foreign price, it could be very high. It is also possible to use a driver’s license on a provisional basis, for up to 6 months. You can only change your license once you have your residency.

Advantages of this method:

  • You will be able to carry out this procedure once in Portugal.
  • It is possible to continue living in Portugal.
  • After submitting the manifestation and acceptance, you will be able to obtain all the benefits of residency, such as applying for family reunification, obtaining health insurance and benefits.

Disadvantages of this method:

  • Although he will continue to live in Portugal, he will not be normalized, therefore, he will not be able to leave Portugal until the SEF makes the confirmation and appointment to grant the residence.
  • The prices of services such as health and study are standard prices for foreigners, therefore, they are quite high.
  • All resident benefits, such as subsidies, will not be available.

Step by step:


  • To arrive in Portugal legally.
  • Processing of the NIF (Tax Identification Number).
  • Obtaining a place to stay.
  • Attestation of the parish council (City Hall).
  • NISS (Social Security Identification Number) processing
  • Search for a job.
  • To obtain a contract or promise of contract.
  • Send the expression of interest to the SEF.



During the time of the process, you may not for any reason leave Portugal, since if you do so, it will be understood that you are no longer interested in residing in the country. It is advisable to translate documents that are in Spanish, such as criminal records, for example.


Interested in more information? Write us here and we will gladly answer your inquiry.