Insights & Media


Expression of Interest


The most recent amendment to the legal framework for the entry, stay, exit and expulsion of aliens from national territory (Act No. 23/2007, of 4 July) [1] excludes the Expression of Interest as a mechanism for obtaining a residence permit in Portugal.

The amendment [2] allowed foreign nationals to legalise their stay in Portugal through an Expression of Interest, by exercising a professional activity under an employment contract (Article 88(2)) or an independent activity (Article 89(2)), even without a valid visa for this purpose.

However, this amendment, along with the introduction of Act No. 28/2019, of 29 March, has allegedly caused a significant increase in applications for legalisation, many of which are misused by criminal networks linked to human trafficking and illegal immigration.

This legal framework encourages foreign nationals who, because of their nationality, do not need to obtain a consular visa for tourism or short-term stays, to travel to Portugal for the sole purpose of obtaining a residence permit to carry out a professional activity, undermining the rules that regulate cross-border movement and its requirements.

Considering the overall situation in Portugal, ‘with hundreds of thousands of cases pending analysis and the inability of the competent services to respond’, as stated in Decree-Law 37-A/2024 of 3 June, all foreigners must apply for a residence visa before taking up residence in Portugal.

Although the law provides for other types of visas for future foreign workers, a work visa will be the first step towards taking up residence in Portugal. To this end, they will need to present an employment contract or a promise of an employment contract at the Portuguese Consulates in their country of origin. In addition, afterwards (before applying for the visa to be converted into a residence permit) they will need to obtain a Social Security Number (NISS), so that the employer can notify the Portuguese Social Security of their admission before they start working, and this step can take between two weeks and a month.

[1] In force since 4 June 2024, as amended by Decree-Law No. 37-A/2024, of 3 June.

[2] Act No. 23/2007, of 4 July, as amended by Act No. 59/2017, of 31 July.