Many non-Europeans are interested in relocating to Europe for business, family, and other purposes. However, the European residency rules can be complicated and confusing. Furthermore, each European country has its own specific residency rules and non-Europeans need to become familiar with the rules of many countries in order to make an informed decision as to where to relocate. It should be noted that, if a non-European becomes a resident of a Schengen area country, she will be able to travel to all other Schengen countries as well.

  • Some countries with attractive schemes are e.g. Austria, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, the Czech Republic, Spain, Portugal, Switzerland), Ireland, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium ,France, Poland, Croatia, Greece and Italy. 

For example on of the better options is Portugal!

Four of the most common ways for obtaining a Portuguese resident permit are employment, establishing a start-up in Portugal, making an investment in Portugal, and retirement. 

In most cases, an employment-based residence permit will be granted to a non-European only if she gets a job that has been advertised to Portuguese and EU/EFTA citizens for 30 days. After the expiration of that time period, the Portuguese Institute for Employment and Vocational Training in Portugal (IEFP) will classify the job as available for non-EU/EFTA citizens.

Start-up founders willing to get a Portuguese residence permit need to contact one or more start-up incubators listed by the Institute for Supporting Small and Medium Sized companies (IAPMEI). If the business plan proposed by the founders is supported by one or more such incubators, the IAPMEI will issue a residence permit to the start-up founders. Each start-up projects may include up to five entrepreneurs. The project needs to have a potential to create jobs (besides the jobs of the start-up founders) and a potential to generate a turnover of at least EUR 325,000 per year and/or to own assets amounting to more than EUR 325,000 per year.

Investors may obtain a Portuguese residence permit if they comply with at least one of eight investment-related requirements. Those requirements are:

  • (i) making a capital transfer to Portugal of EUR 1,000,000 or more;
  • (ii) creating at least 10 job positions; 
  • (iii) purchasing an immovable property in Portugal with a value equal to or above EUR 500,000;
  • (iv) purchasing and refurbishing immovable property which is either more than 30 years old or located in urban regeneration areas. The total value of the acquisition and refurbishment must be equal to or exceed EUR 350,000; 
  • (v) making a capital transfer of EUR 350,000 or more for investing in research activities conducted by private or public scientific research institutions involved in the Portuguese scientific or technologic system;
  • (vi) making a capital transfer of EUR 250,000 or more with the aim to invest, through specified local organizations, in artistic activities or reconstruction of natural heritage; 
  • (vii) making a capital transfer of EUR 350,000 or more for the acquisition of units of investment funds or venture capital funds that meet certain conditions; and
  • (viii) making a capital transfer of EUR 350,000 or more for the establishment or increasing the capital of a business in Portugal that meets certain conditions and creates five permanent working jobs for a period of three years.

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Non-Europeans who would like to live in Portugal after their retirement can apply for a temporary residence permit allowing them to live for five years in Portugal before requesting permanent residence. To do this, they need to present various documents, including, but not limited to, a proof of income, a proof of health insurance, a valid passport, and a criminal background check.

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Or Italy!!

All non-EU citizens who intend to stay in Italy for a period longer than 90 days need to have a “stay permit” (permesso di Soggiorno). Persons who have valid stay permits are entitled to the same social benefits as the Italian nationals. Such benefits include, but are not limited to, access to healthcare, social assistance, and schools. The stay permit is in the form of a card having microchip that contains personal information about the permit holder. Although the stay permits have a limited period of validity, they can be renewed. 

The most common types of permits are: (i) work permit for employees (permesso di Soggiorno per lavore); (ii) permit for self-employed workers (permesso di Soggiorno per lavoro autonomo/indipendente); and (iii) permit for foreigners who plan to reside in Italy, without working there (permesso di Soggiorno per dimora). 

The application for a stay permit needs to be submitted at the post office, trade union, or municipality office within a time period of eight days commencing on the date of arrival in Italy. The processing of the application takes up to three months. The local police (Questura) will inform the applicant via SMS when she will need to provide photos and fingerprints.

Persons willing to obtain work permit for employees (permesso di Soggiorno per lavore) need to submit a declaration from a prospective or current employer and other required documents. To get a work permit for self-employed (permesso di Soggiorno per lavoro autonomo/indipendente), one  has to present (i) a VAT registration number and (ii) an authorization from the Chamber of Commerce showing that the applicant has the appropriate license or registration (if she exercises a regulated profession) or made the relevant commercial registration (if appropriate). Foreigners who would like to reside in Italy for reasons not related to work can apply for permesso di Soggiorno per dimora by showing that they have an adequate health insurance and sufficient financial resources.    

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