1.1 Has any guidance already been issued in relation to Brexit, for example on residence or work permits in the event of a no-deal Brexit?
On 28 March 2019, a specific regulation was published containing the special contingency measures to apply in Portugal should the UK leave the EU without an agreement.
Such measures apply notably to:
- residence rights;
- social security;
- professional activities.
Moreover, on 30 September 2019, a new regulation was published approving measures to be applied in the event of the UK leaving the European Union without an agreement on financial services and social security matters.
Finally, on 4 September 2019, the agreement entered into between Portugal and the UK establishing the legal framework on the participation of nationals of each country resident in the territory of the other country in local elections was approved.
2.1 When UK employees become third-country nationals will they require a business visa?
No, Regulation (EU) 2019/592 of 10 April 2019 exempts UK citizens from the requirement for a Schengen visa. It will apply from the day the UK is no longer subject to EU law. When it takes effect, UK citizens will be able to enter and stay in the Schengen area for a maximum of 90 days in any rolling 180-day period.
The Schengen exemption will apply:
- from Brexit date in the event of no deal;
- from 1 January 2021 if the Withdrawal Agreement (‘WA’) is ratified (under the WA, UK nationals keep their EU free movement rights until 31 December 2020).
However, even if allowed to enter and stay visa-free they might nonetheless need a residence permit if they intend to work in Portugal. Business visitors are only exempt from a residence visa for meetings ‘in closed circle’. Examples of meetings in ‘closed circle’ include negotiations with customers, evaluations with staff and company strategy meetings.
Third-country nationals coming to stay and work in Portugal for more than 90 days require a residence visa or permit that enables them to work and reside in Portugal for more than 90 days.
2.2 What documentation will be required for business travel on arrival at the border once UK citizens are considered third-country nationals?
Travel documents (valid passport) with a validity of no more than ten years and that is valid for at least three months after departure from Portugal.
Proof of duration and purpose of stay as border control may ask additional questions concerning duration and purpose of stay.
Unless they stay in a hotel or guest house, UK business travellers will need to notify the Immigration Services (‘SEF’) of their presence within three working days from arrival and receive an Annex 3 form.
3.1 When UK citizens become third-country nationals will they need permission to work?
Yes, unless they can rely on an exemption such as:
- business meetings in ‘closed circle’;
- family members of an EU national or a non-EU national who has authorisation to work (subject to conditions);
- holders of a temporary or permanent Portuguese residence permit.
3.2 If permission to work is needed do any quotas apply for employing third-country nationals?
3.3 If permission to work is needed, as of when will it be needed?
The Portuguese regulation described above does not contain any specific provision in this regard. In any case, we anticipate that such permission will be needed as of 1 January 2021 or from Brexit date in the event of no deal.
3.4 If permission to work is needed, what are the most common categories?
- Residence visa or permit for the performance of subordinate activities;
- Residence visa or permit for highly skilled activities.
3.5 If permission to stay or work is needed, how long does the procedure take?
Permission to work and stay in Portugal:
- The employee needs to apply for a residence visa for the performance of a subordinate activity: 60 days (in practice, it may take longer).
- If the UK national entered Portugal lawfully (either with or without a visa), he or she should apply for a residence permit for the performance of a subordinate activity: 90 days (in practice, it may take longer).
3.6 If permission to work or stay is needed, what Government fees would be due for this permission?
Based on current figures, the residence visa costs EUR 90.00 and the residence permit EUR 82.30. The residence card form costs EUR 38.60.
4.1 From when can third-country nationals obtain permanent residence?
Five years of legal stay in Portugal (subject to conditions)
5.1 What steps could UK nationals still take to secure their residence status?
The guarantee to secure right of residence will only apply to UK nationals and their family members who are resident in Portugal by the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. Therefore, proof of residence in Portugal, notably through a residence certificate or residence card, is a general requirement. Such UK nationals are required to apply for a new residence permit by 31 December 2020.