Relatives and partners can apply for a family visa to join foreigners in Portugal. This guide explains spouse visa requirements and how to apply for a Portuguese spouse visa or Portuguese family visa.
A Portuguese spouse visa or family visa allows non-EU citizens to join a relative or partner living in Portugal. There are different conditions if you are joining someone who is from the Eureopean Union, European Economic Area (EEA – Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein) or Switzerland, than if you are joining someone from outside the EU. For information on joining a EU/EEA/Swiss relative or partner, see our guide on Portuguese immigration policy for EU citizens.
This guide focuses on non-European citizens who wish to join family in Portugal, explaining which relatives are eligible for a Portuguese spouse visa or family visa, depending on your family connection and whether your relative holds a temporary residence permit, a permanent residence permit or is studying in Portugal. It also explains the process of how to apply for family visa, and what happens if your relative dies or moves abroad.
Who can apply for a family visa?
- your spouse
- your partner, provided that the relationship is recognised by the law
- your minor dependent children including adopted children and those of your spouse/partner
- your dependent parents and those of your spouse
- your children who are under your care and/or the care of your spouse and who are studying in Portugal
- minor brothers and sisters who are under your custody.
Those who hold a Portuguese student visa can only be joined by:
- minor dependent children including adopted children and those of your spouse/partner.
Joining relatives in Portugal with a temporary residence permit
If your relative or spouse has a temporary residence permit in Portugal (issued for a maximum duration of five years) you can apply for family reunification in Portugal for the same duration of their stay. You will be granted a renewable Portuguese residence permit.
To qualify for a family visa, your relative will be required to prove they have sufficient funds or means of subsistence for you and all family members, plus will be responsible for providing accommodation.
Highly skilled non-EU workers living in Portugal on the EU Blue Card are also entitled to family reunification in Portugal. More information on the EU Blue Card is available in our guide to work permits for working in Portugal.
Joining relatives in Portugal with permanent residence or citizenship
If your relative in Portugal has a permanent residence permit, issued after five years of residence in Portugal, your Portuguese spouse visa or family visa will be valid for two years, and can be renewed. Read more in our guide to Portuguese residency permits.
After the initial two-year period, and if the family tie persists, any family members can obtain an independent residence permit. Spouses are entitled to an independent residence permit immediately if the marriage has lasted for more than five years. Minor dependent children are also typically entitled to individual residence permits before two years.
Once the two-year residence permit period expires, family members are granted the same permanent residence type as other foreign permanent residents. This means they also have the same rights as Portuguese nationals in terms of employment, education, healthcare, social security and tax benefits.
If you have acquired Portuguese citizenship (available after six years of residence in Portugal) then you are granted the same rights as Portuguese and EU citizens. If your family joins you as an EU citizen, your family members don’t require a Portuguese family visa. Read the conditions in our guide to EU family member visas.
Relatives working or studying in Portugal
Relatives joining non-EU/EFTA foreign residents on a family reunion visa in Portugal are entitled to work and study, although they need to inform their local branch of the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF) before doing so. Find your closest SEF office.
How to apply to join a relative or partner in Portugal
Applications for a Portuguese spouse visa or family visa need to be made by the existing holder of a Portuguese residence permit ie. your spouse or relative who is already legally living in Portugal. Applications need to be made with the SEF. For more information you can schedule an appointment with the SEF here, or make an appointment online. Find online visa forms here.
The following documents will need be submitted along with the application:
- proof of the right to family reunification in Portugal (residence permit or EU Blue Card)
- proof of relationship to family member(s)
- copies of passport/ID for family member(s)
- proof of accommodation for family member(s) (does not apply to refugees)
- proof of sufficient resources to meet needs of family member(s) (does not apply to refugees)
- criminal record certificate(s) of family member(s)
- proof of incapacity or economic dependency of any dependent relatives who are not minor children
- certificate of adoption in the case of adopted children
- birth certificate, proof of economic dependence and proof of educational enrolment in Portugal in the case of children who are studying in Portugal
- certificate of guardianship in the case of minor brothers and sisters
- proof of de facto union in the case of partner who is not a spouse.
If your application for a family visa is approved, the relevant residence visas will be issued in the name of each family member. The SEF will communicate with the parties involved, the Portuguese Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MNE) and the respective Portuguese embassy or consulate in the home country of the person requiring the visa. A list of Portuguese embassies abroad is available here.
Family reunion application made from within Portugal
In some cases, applications for family reunion visas in Portugal can be applied for inside the country. In these instances, the request can come from either the holder of the Portuguese residence permit or from the family member seeking the family visa.
The family member applying for a family visa will also have to provide proof of legal entry into Portugal. Read more about Portuguese visa types.
Decisions on family reunion visas in Portugal can take up to 90 days. There is a non-refundable fee of EUR 90 to make an application for family reunion in Portugal. Minor dependants are exempt from this fee.
What happens if your relative dies or moves abroad?
In exceptional cases such as divorce or death of a relative to which your family visa is tied, you are entitled to apply for an autonomous resident permit within the initial two-year reunion visa period. You will typically be asked to provide documents to apply.