Inquiries to consulates led to rechristening of Portugal Angel Visa — program attracts highly qualified professionals to drive R&D in Portugal.

BRAGANÇA, Portugal–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The launch of Portugal’s Highly Qualified Activity (HQA) Visa program has elicited strong reactions from South African professionals and Portuguese authorities. Originally referred to by its working title “Portugal Angel Visa” (PAV) the program was renamed in response to feedback from consular officials fielding inquiries from interested applicants.

The HQA Visa program (, which was originally unveiled in June 2019 as the Portugal Angel Visa, leverages article 61 of existing Portuguese legislation designed to attract highly qualified professionals to stimulate R&D in Portugal. The program is intended to deliver immediate economic benefits while strengthening the country’s capacity to launch innovative transnational startups. Accomplished international professionals are selected to launch their own R&D-driven startup in Portugal, which evolves within a concierge-style incubation program, delivered by program co-creator Empowered Startups.

“The HQA residency visa builds partnerships between Portuguese academia, state-backed R&D facilities, industry, and the world’s transnational business leaders, “ notes Paul Girodo, CEO and co-founder of Empowered Startups, the business incubator for the HQA program, “ It creates a more innovative Portugal and delivers economic benefits to the people who matter most – the citizens of Portugal.”

Recent global events, including protests in Hong Kong and the ongoing challenges in South Africa, have led to an increasing number of accomplished professionals seeking alternative residencies. For many, the promise of a stable future in the EU for their families strengthens the argument for relocating their professional base of operations. While residency-by-investment schemes typically require real estate purchases as a pre-condition to acceptance, the HQA visa program emphasis on seeding a business option in Portugal presents a compelling alternative.


Laura Bock Blumes

Managing Director- Europe

[email protected]