Easy Transition Into the EU

75% Less Capital Than Golden Visa

Clear Path to PR & Citizenship

Expedited Processing: 4-6 Weeks

Families Welcome

Fully Refundable




Clear path to your future in the EU, through your own university-linked company in Portugal.


Verify your Eligibilty and Specify Your Goals

Provide your professional credentials to the HQA Intake Committee for review.

Discuss your personal and professional goals via videoconference.


Secure your Portuguese residency

Collect and prepare your personal documents.

Receive acceptance from paired university ecosystem & HQA incubator.


Benefit from EU status & freedom to travel

Leverage HQA connections to benefit your business activities.

Maintain your international commitments and travel as needed, without restriction.


Choose your future in Portugal and the EU

Direct the future of your company emerging from incubation.

Prepare to apply for Permanent Residency or citizenship.

Total Cost: €175k

Designed specifically for highly qualified professionals and businesspeople.

Smooth Transition to a Professional Base of Operations in the EU

  • Connections of influence with university and regional authorities
  • 3 years concierge incubation services, including business concept creation
  • Status as EU startup, with access to EU banking & funding mechanisms


More Flexible and More Cost-Effective Than Alternatives

  • Fully refundable if Residency Visa is refused
  • 75% less than total cost of Golden Visa
  • No additional maintenance fees
  • No business performance requirements



Clear Path to Eligibility for Permanent Residency or Citizenship

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



In partnership with Empowered Startups Portugal, a select group of Portuguese universities and regional authorities offer the HQA program.

  • Paul Girodo
  • Chris Lennon
  • Laura Blumes
  • Shawn Olson
  • Francesco Berrettini
  • 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.

Francesco Berrettini

Empowered Startups Manager - Partnerships & Projects

Francesco is responsible for establishing and developing Empowered Startups’ partnerships and special projects in Portugal.

Prior to joining Empowered, Francesco was CEO of the Algarve Systems & Technology Partnership in southern Portugal. He assumed that regional leadership role subsequent to the sale of his award-winning marketing company Inesting to Digital Group. His previous experience includes due diligence in the investment banking sector, project management for the EU’s Business Innovation Centers, and strategy consulting services for both private and public organizations.

Francesco holds an MBA and is a certified Hubspot Inbound Marketing Consultant. He has served as Assistant Professor in Marketing & Management at the Catholic University of Portugal, and continues to teach at higher education institutions. He is also currently Honorary Consul for Italy, based in the Algarve.

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.

About the HQA Program

HQA legislation fast-tracks highly qualified professionals to Portugal.
Article 61e of Portugal’s Immigration Act (REPSAE) provides priority entry to professionals who collaborate with recognized research institutions.

In 2019, Portuguese public universities and regional authorities partnered with transnational business incubator Empowered Startups Portugal to attract highly qualified professionals to their ecosystems.

Empowered Startups Portugal matches highly qualified professionals with HQA partner university ecosystems. Applicants are supported in the development of a company which is linked to the applicant’s activities abroad. The applicant’s company is embedded in the university’s ecosystem and benefits from its sphere of influence. The applicant is permitted to travel internationally as needed for business purposes, as provided by the legislation.

Read The Government of Portugal's Official HQA Visa Regulations Here

Partnerships Across Portugal