As a rule, as previously explored in our articles, the immigration process to Portugal must begin by obtaining a Residence Visa, which is later converted into a temporary residence permit. With rare exceptions – as in the case of European citizens and their families, for example – this is the fastest and most efficient way to regularize oneself in Portuguese territory as an immigrant.
However, Law 23/2007 foresees, in its article 122, some possibilities to obtain a residence permit without a visa. These are procedures that take place directly at SEF and exempt the applicant from starting the process at the Portuguese Consulate in his/her country of residence/nationality.
These are possibilities that are still little known and that can help to avoid slower and more difficult processes such as, for example, family reunification.
We bring you the most common cases contemplated by article 122 – the so-called “special situations”:
a) Residence for minors, children of foreign citizens holding a residence permit, born in Portugal:
It seems especially interesting to us to mention that the law contemplates a residence permit for minors who, not being yet eligible for Portuguese nationality (in case their parents have not been in national territory for at least one year), still do not have to resort to Family Reunification (Art. 98, 2), a more difficult scheduling category to obtain.
b) Residence for those suffering from illness requiring long-term medical assistance
In this case, the applicant must prove that, although he/she is in national territory in an irregular situation – in other words, with a prolonged stay beyond that authorized by his/her initial Visa – an eventual return to his/her country of origin would be dangerous because it would interrupt a medical and continuous treatment started in Portugal. It is absolutely essential to prove, with a medical report issued by a recognized health institution, that the treatment cannot be interrupted, under penalty of risk to the applicant’s health.
c) Residence for those who have minor children residing in Portugal or of Portuguese nationality and over whom they effectively exercise parental authority
Another interesting alternative for those who wish to avoid the family reunification process: in case of being the parents of a minor, already holding a residence permit in Portugal or of Portuguese nationality, it is possible to obtain the title if the effective contribution in the minor’s upbringing is proven. It is commonly applicable when one of the parents already has title and also the child, but the other parent does not yet – for whatever reason, for example: the parents are not married or in a de facto union, which is an obstacle to family reunification. It is necessary for the other parent to assert the exercise of parental power, except when dispensable for reasons of force majeure.
d) Right to continued residence for residents who have benefited from a residence permit for 2nd or 3rd cycle higher education students
The intention of the legislator must have been to guarantee continuity of residence for those who have concluded their masters or doctorate and are still looking for opportunities in the job market, in other words: who are not yet able to present a contract or promise of a work contract in order to obtain a residence permit based on professional activity in Portuguese territory. It is necessary to prove that the thesis has been presented, the link with the University has been closed with all the fees paid up to date, and to demonstrate other requirements such as, for example, means of subsistence and proof of address in Portugal.
We have decided to bring only a few examples, but article 122 counts almost 20 possibilities for obtaining a residence permit with visa waiver, so it is worth knowing all the alternatives and checking your eligibility within any of them. If the exceptional/special situation is proven, after thorough analysis by the competent authorities, a temporary residence permit will be issued – valid for 2 years. This is an added value, in favour of the proper regularization of immigrants.