Highly Qualified Activity

Residency Visa

Builds partnerships between Portuguese academia, state-backed R&D facilities, industry, and the world’s transnational business leaders.

Creates a more innovative Portugal and delivers economic benefits to the people who matter most – the citizens of Portugal.


New fast-tracked business-class residency program

Leverage legislation designed to attract highly qualified professionals to stimulate R&D in Portugal.

View required documents for
Highly Qualified Activity visa (art. 61.º)

Benefit from services provided by Empowered Startups, a recognized transnational business incubator


Launch a research-driven business in Portugal.
Streamline your path to citizenship or Permanent Residency.
Keep the flexibility to fulfill your other commitments.




Designed specifically for accomplished professionals.

Smooth transition to a professional base of operations in the EU

  • Your own EU company and bank account, with credit history
  • 3 years concierge incubation services, from business concept creation to product market fit
  • R&D driven IP wholly-owned by your EU company

More flexible and more cost-effective than alternatives

  • Fully refundable if Residency Visa is refused
  • 25% of total cost of the Portugal Golden Visa
  • No additional operational or maintenance fees
  • No business performance requirements

Clear path to eligibility for permanent residency or citizenship

  • Freedom to travel internationally as needed
  • Fast processing : 4-6 weeks until Residency Visa approval
  • Accompaniment through renewals required for PR / Citizenship eligibility


Empowered Startups Portugal, a recognized transnational business incubator, has partnered with public research institutions.

  • Paul Girodo
  • Chris Lennon
  • Laura Blumes
  • Shawn Olson
  • Alex Rodrigues
  • Hugo Barros

Paul Girodo

Empowered Startups Co-Founder

Paul Girodo, MBA is expert in transnational entrepreneurship, scaling startups, and designing leading edge immigration products that deliver clear benefits to the governments, start-up ecosystems, and most importantly the citizens of countries accepting transnational business class migrants. As Co-Founder of Empowered Startups he helped build it into the largest deal flow provider to the Government of Canada’s Start-up Visa Program. He also leads Empowered’s delivery of new leading edge fast-track business investor class migration programs for entrepreneurs in Portugal and France with a growing number of established incubators in both countries. His industry interests range from combating human trafficking with his father (former Team Leader for INTERPOL Group of Experts on Corruption and Chief Human Factors Consultant in specialized drug and money laundering investigations with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) to deep tech and social venture enterprises. He is a shareholder and director of many Canadian, French, and Portuguese companies.

Chris Lennon

Empowered Startups President & General Counsel

Chris oversees all international operations for Empowered Startups, working closely with the Board of Directors. Prior to taking on this role, Chris acted as Empowered’s primary legal counsel since the organization’s inception. During his tenure at a prominent law firm in Vancouver Canada, Chris advised technology companies, research organizations, and corporate boards.

Laura Blumes

Empowered Startups Managing Director – Europe

Laura oversees all HQA business incubation programming. As co-creator of the HQA program, in partnership with Portuguese public institutions, she monitors every HQA venture from inception through to graduation. Laura is an experienced systems builder for high-growth international projects. She holds an MBA in the Management of Technology and an M.A. in Educational Technology. Laura served for 3 years as an immigrant settlement assistance volunteer.

Shawn Olson

Empowered Startups Vice President – Business Development

Shawn connects international professionals with the HQA program team. He works with counsel and advisors worldwide to identify and vet accomplished executives looking to create a new future for themselves in Portugal. Shawn is a graduate of the University of British Columbia who has lived and worked all over the world. He is an accomplished sports coach, an experienced athlete, and a devoted family man.

Alex Rodrigues

Brigantia Eco-Park Technology & Innovation Officer

Alex leads the operations of Brigantia-EcoPark, an IAPMEI-certified Start Up Visa incubator in northern Portugal, 90min outside of Porto. As a key co-creator of the Portugal HQA Visa protocol, he facilitates the partnerships with authorities and public bodies in Portugal. Empowered Startups first incubator in Portugal was launched within the well-appointed facilities of Brigantia-EcoPark.

Hugo Barros

CRIA - University of the Algarve Coordinator

Hugo leads the team at CRIA, the IAPMEI-certified Start Up Visa incubator of the University of the Algarve, on the southern coast of Portugal. Hugo maintains significant relationships with regional Portuguese authorities, and facilitates pan-Mediterranean collaborative projects.


A clear path to your future in the EU, through your own R&D-based startup.


Meet with Intake Committee

Discuss your goals via videoconference.
Determine the direction and success metrics for your innovative EU start up.


Secure your Portuguese residency status

Collect your documents, as the HQA program team lays the groundwork for your R&D project at a top tier public research institution.


Benefit from business incubation

Provide strategic direction as your venture develops. Your startup will leverage the IP created through your R&D project.


Choose your future in Portugal and the EU

Direct the future of your company emerging from incubation, and prepare to apply for Permanent Residency or citizenship.