Portugal Startup Visa: How I Got the Residency

What should I include in my business plan and motivation letter to get my startup visa application approved?
14 min
June 12, 2023

Elena Lipilina founded Visible Sports, a "booking" for those looking for sports and generally wanting to lead an active lifestyle. Elena studied in Finland, USA, and Germany and recently moved to Portugal on a startup visa. Read the step-by-step guide on how to get a startup residency. What points write a business plan and motivation letter? What documents do you need? How to choose a mentor? And more.

There are three parts to it. You can read it entirely or skip to the more interesting part:

  • Part 1. What I have learned from immigrating to Finland and the U.S.: Stereotypes, pros, and cons
  • Part 2. How to get a Startup visa to Portugal: instructions and tips
  • Part 3. "Booking" for those who love sports and want to lead an active lifestyle

Part 1. What I have learned from immigrating to Finland and the U.S.: Stereotypes, pros, and cons

How did you end up in Finland?

It was a red grant. I applied for it and spent a year living in Finland. I experienced the elective system for the first time. I focused on linguistics, but when I attended an international law course, I couldn't help but feel like an "impostor."

In contrast, the Russian educational system needs to provide such flexibility. The Russian educational system does not allow you to do this. There is a strict order from above, a set of subjects: Gothic, my favorite language, which is very "useful" in life, and Old English and theoretical grammar – excellent!:). Studying in Finland ignited my internal drive to pursue my interests.

Living alone abroad, away from my parents, was a new experience. I was 19 years old, an age that is considered somewhat middle-aged, and suddenly I had to take care of everything by myself: opening a bank account, renting an apartment, and paying for it independently. It was a constant process of adapting to a culture entirely different from what I was used to. By the end of my stay, I had figured out the ins and outs of living in Finland.

Can you provide me with some examples? For instance, I believed that was the way to do it, but it turned out differently.

The first thing I needed help comprehending was why small talk never seems to work with Finns - they simply don't engage in conversation. There is a distinct lack of interaction, and everything occurs in an almost suffocating silence. I began to doubt myself, thinking I was constantly saying something foolish. It was challenging. 

Then, I attended an international management course that covered various aspects, including the cultural peculiarities of the Finns. And I thought to myself, "Really?!" The Finns have ten rules for conversation, with nine revolving around what not to say. Seriously, rules one to nine imply that speaking is unnecessary, and the tenth rule is to alert others if someone is sick or on fire. That's it! That's the extent of it! Thus, talking is merely an opportunity to exchange highly relevant information.

In other words, the exchange of information is one-sided, without any expectation of feedback.

Yes, exactly. You are expected to share facts, and phrases like "Nice weather today, isn't it?" are not accepted because it is apparent that the sun is shining. This feeling of inadequacy stemmed from my lack of understanding of the culture, despite my strong desire to learn more about it.

It was also uncomfortable for another reason. I played basketball as part of the university sports team. However, I eventually stopped participating because I couldn't bear my teammates' silence and lack of interaction. One day, when I ran into one of them on the street, I confronted her, asking, "What's your problem with me? What's going on? I'm genuinely curious." She responded, "Well, what about it? You attacked us in 1939." I was taken aback and replied, "I'm sorry. What year are we in?" She said, "Well, yeah."

That incident was an important lesson for me as a future serial immigrant. I learned to listen more and talk less, ask questions, seek clarification, and show genuine interest in the culture and history of the country. It helped me understand why certain things may appear a certain way. I am grateful for this experience, even though I can't categorize it as entirely positive. Finland isn't a one-sided love. Going through such experiences pushes you to another level of understanding.

Didn't that experience discourage you from moving to another country?

No, not at all. The sense of freedom and independence outweighed any discouragement. Immigration is a journey of self-discovery, as glorious as it may sound. It's a path of self-reflection that fueled my desire to explore different places and learn about diverse people, their lives, and the reasons behind them.

Then you returned to Russia and later pursued studies in the United States.

I often encounter people who ask, "How did you find these opportunities? Where do you search? Where do you go?" I'm happy to share because even a fragment of knowledge can positively impact lives.

Regarding the United States, the situation was similar. I came across information about the Fulbright program, which is more than just a student exchange program. Fulbright offered the opportunity to pursue a fully funded master's degree or Ph.D. Given my family background in the military and education, it was evident that I couldn't afford education in the States without financial support.

The selection process was incredibly rigorous, the toughest I've experienced. I was physically ill, feeling unwell and voiceless. But in the end, I succeeded. So, for two years, I lived in a completely different country, far away from home, and entirely on my own. I remember when my car broke down, and I was stranded, thinking, "What's wrong? Why won't it start? Who should I call?" It was a foreign country, on some highway, surrounded by deer, with no internet access.

I constantly felt inadequate, surrounded by brilliant individuals. I believed I was an imposter, a joke amidst a group of intelligent people resolving conflicts in African countries. I thought, "Oh my God, I know nothing about that." It was immensely intimidating, but it also became a tremendous breakthrough. It was a quantum leap for me.

In addition to earning a master's degree, which holds international recognition, I obtained two degrees, one from an esteemed American institution of higher education.

Take the American dream, for example. There are countless stereotypes about the United States. However, when you move there, you start to discern what is true and what isn't. Let's consider two examples: the aspects that seemed appealing and resonated with you and those that didn't seem favorable, and you consciously discarded to prevent them from becoming habits.

Allow me to elaborate. The first thing I encountered but chose not to adopt was optional promises. In Finland, for instance, when I visited a student, someone who was invited didn't show up, and my friend said, "Well, that's it, the friendship is over." I thought it was a joke, but she clarified that they had agreed upon the meeting, and the person's absence was considered a breach of trust.

Then, I arrived in the United States. Since I didn't have a car, getting around took a lot of work. Public transportation was limited to cities like New York and Washington. Initially, I struggled to buy groceries as I couldn't reach the supermarket. I asked a classmate, "How do you get to the stores?" They replied, "I have a car. I shop there and back. Do you want to come along?" I agreed and asked about the specific time. They said, "Saturday at two." I responded, "Great, please take me with you. I'd appreciate it." However, when Saturday arrived, I messaged them, inquiring about our plans, but the person simply vanished. Nothing happened—no apology or explanation. It's pretty standard for people to ghost others in such situations.

This experience taught me an important lesson. Our culture values deep connections from the start. We were raised in a culture where we enthusiastically discuss the vastness of the universe or the Old Testament. We want to know everything right away, including personal details. However, it's not the same in the United States. You can engage in deep conversations with someone sitting next to you on a train, but it only leads a little further. You won't even exchange contact information. Asking someone's name after hours of conversation would be considered impolite.

I learned that "No" is not the final answer. Even from the United States, I had the opportunity to pursue an internship elsewhere. I applied to go to the Middle East but was not accepted. When I shared this with someone, their response surprised me. They said, "So what? 'No' is not the answer. If you want to go, go to the program office and persist until they say yes." I questioned whether that was allowed, and they assured me it was common practice. They said, "We always go after what we want persistently. 'No' is not an answer." In our culture, we tend to hesitate after hearing the word "no." As an experiment, I followed their advice and persistently pursued the opportunity. I visited the program office multiple times, expressing my strong desire to participate. Eventually, they informed me that one person had dropped out, and they had additional funding available. It amazed me how many opportunities we miss simply because we give up. Interestingly, I didn't go on that particular program anyway, as I received an offer to work at the UN.

And the second thing is that I admire American project management. How projects are structured, and communication is clear, understandable, and transparent is remarkable. When you receive a document with instructions, everything you need is emphasized, bullet points are used where necessary, and there are comprehensive guidelines on what needs to be done. There's a complete understanding of the document package or requirements. I adopted this approach and implemented it extensively in my work. Working with American colleagues on projects was always a pleasure because everything was crystal clear. Deadlines, requirements, and expectations were well-defined and predictable. It was awesome! It is a valuable asset in my professional repertoire.

Did this help you launch your startups successfully?

As per the program's terms, I had to return to Russia. I attempted to stay in the U.S. but faced challenges regarding job criteria that aligned with my preferences.

The United States is a beautiful country that easily entices you with its sense of freedom and the belief that anything is possible. I wanted to remain in the States but resisted returning for a long time. It felt like an internal defeat for me. However, my perspective eventually shifted. I understood the significance of the experience and why I needed to return to Russia.

Was it the development of women's sports? Why did gender equality in sports become so important to you? How did you discover the problems here?

While in the United States, I started systematically approaching various issues. I was no longer confined to the perspective of a materialist who had been wearing uncomfortable shoes and had become accustomed to them. In the States, people fearlessly express their opinions and actively engage in causes. Being a part of something greater than oneself and giving back to the community is deeply ingrained in the national ethos. This cultural aspect prompted me to reflect on what held me back and which shoes I didn't like wearing.

I began searching for opportunities to participate in team sports, particularly basketball, which I had always loved. It became evident that women needed more space to pursue such activities outside of college classes. Once adult life began, women were expected to adhere to societal norms, with the best-case scenario involving walking down the aisle in a wedding gown. I mean no disrespect to those who choose this path, but the problem lies in the limited socially acceptable options for women to stay active.

As I started systematically developing women's basketball championships, people would openly dismiss the idea, suggesting that women should focus on having children instead of engaging in sports. Naturally, this angered me. People viewed it as exclusively a man's domain, questioning why I was interfering. If I don't want to have a baby now, or if I already have one, why should I be denied the opportunity to pursue a sport I enjoy?

There needed to be more infrastructure. They would ask, "Do you have a degree?" upon receiving a negative response, they would say, "Put on a mascot costume, and let's go." But I wanted to play. I wanted to compete.

So I thought, "Okay, if I don't like it, can I do something alone?" And I realized that I could. I understood that it would be a long-term endeavor to change mentalities. It required substantial investment and the creation of something remarkable. I am immensely proud that we have made women's basketball accessible to individuals of all ages, regardless of their physical abilities.

Projects like these bring so much joy to people's lives. They facilitate personal development and growth. I have a friend who believed it was too late for her to play basketball at her age. I reassured her that age didn't matter. Now, she has established her fashion brand that combines her profession and passion for basketball. It's wonderful!

Gender equality in sports has been an enduring problem. It's no longer just about tournaments or platforms; it's about transforming lives through the "you can" mentality. Of course, we need to differentiate between professional and non-professional sports. Inequality in amateur sports remains a significant issue. There's also the stigma surrounding what women should do and how they should appear. Heaven forbid a woman breaks a sweat or her face turns red. Some perceive it as clumsiness. Women face numerous restrictions ingrained in their minds.

Here in Portugal, where I immigrated, we have gathered boys aged 10-11 and started playing the sport I currently engage in - non-contact American soccer. I observe these boys, who exude confidence in what they do. They don't have a second of doubt. They catch the ball mid-air, performing acrobatic moves. Meanwhile, the girls are hesitant and self-conscious. The boys play, and the girls worry. That's precisely what I aim to change. Access to sports and a healthy lifestyle is a fundamental right for women, just like any other right.

Part 2. How to get a Startup visa to Portugal: instructions and tips

You immigrated to Portugal on a startup visa. Let's outline the process as a practical guide for those wishing
to move to Portugal with a startup.

Before Portugal, I lived in Germany for three years. I could have stayed there, but at that time, I already had an idea for a startup and wanted to focus on its development. Additionally, I was drawn to a different type of culture.

There were several reasons why I chose Portugal. One factor was the relatively small deposit required for a startup visa. The necessary amounts are much higher in countries like France, the Netherlands, and even Spain. Currently, for Portugal, the charge is around 5,700€, but I recommend showing at least 5,800€ or, better yet, 6,000€. We're talking about tens of thousands of euros in the Netherlands or France.

The second reason was the country itself and the straightforward process of obtaining a startup visa and a residence permit (Visto Nacional de Residência or VNR). The process seemed somewhat less evident in the Netherlands, France, and Spain.

How does it work in Portugal? A person registers on a platform specifically designed for applying for a startup visa, and everything happens within that platform. As far as I know, Spain has also implemented a similar system. I liked that everything is done online, a basic set of documents is required, and the response from the Portuguese Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship comes within a regulated timeframe.

The cost of living in Portugal also influenced my decision. I had the task of bringing along my co-founder, and we needed to save on the development of the startup because, in the early stages, you invest everything into it, and you can't afford to think about buying unnecessary things. France, the Netherlands, and the UK are expensive countries to live in, and I didn't want to spend more on living expenses than I did on the project. The decision was made in 2021 when Portugal had relatively low living costs and affordable prices for food and housing. This played a role in the decision-making process.

Let's return to the process and why it seemed straightforward to me. Let me explain step by step.

The first step is to upload everything to a single platform. One team member does this, and a team can consist of up to five people. You register using your passport number, which will be linked to your residence permit.

The second step is to provide a project description and a motivational letter.

In the initial stage, you briefly describe your project - in two or three sentences. No one expects you to write novels in verse.

Write a motivational letter - this is an essential document and is not meant to be template-based. You simply write:

  1. why do you want to do business in Portugal,
  2. why your platform is innovative,
  3. why it is scalable,
  4. and why it has growth potential.

I highly recommend focusing on these four points.

How did it go for us? I pondered this letter for a long time, considering it, and couldn't bring myself to apply. And then May 9, 2022, came. At that time, it seemed that an apocalypse would happen on May 10, and I decided I had nothing else to lose. I went a little crazy and wrote this letter. I wrote a super informal letter: "Dear Ministry and Incubators, as a team, we believe that Portugal and we are a perfect match, and here's why" - listed 10 points. These 10 points just came to me like that. I attached it, and that was it.

What happens next? The second critical stage begins. You must receive at least one "yes" from the incubators.

What does that even mean? What is this creature? On the same platform's website is a list of incubators, currently around a hundred. These business units in Portugal are supposed to help you develop your business. In reality, some help, and some don't. But the institution should choose you at this stage and show interest in your project. You must receive a "yes" from them, indicating that the incubator is interested in your project and ready to help. Later, you will have to pay for incubation every month, the amounts vary, but they are usually insignificant.

What's important? Some incubators need to read this platform. Here's my recommendation: always duplicate your motivational letter and your pitch deck, and send them via email to the incubator - more chances that someone will respond to you. The advantage is that there are contacts in the table where you choose an incubator.

What else is essential? You need to understand where you want to live to know where you're willing to commute to a coworking space, and so on - usually, the monthly fee includes renting a room in a coworking facility. There's no obligation to go there every day or at all. You should be in touch but don't have to be there physically. For example, our incubator is in Coimbra, and we go there once every fifty years, but we constantly communicate.

So, the first criterion is where you want to live.

The second criterion is your industry. I currently help several startups. It's better to be in places with a gastronomy scene for gastronomic projects, like big cities such as Lisbon, Porto, and Braga. For fintech projects, it's better to be where there are fintech houses - that's Lisbon. For example, if it's some other specialized project, like game development, it's better to be in Porto because it's the center of game development. You must consider where you are, what you are, and what your project is about.

And the third point. Municipalities own a large number of incubators. I don't know why, but municipalities often reject projects. So, municipalities are a mixed bag in this regard.

And the fourth point: it's worse to aim for big cities than smaller ones. In Porto, in Lisbon, you will pay more for incubation. Due to high demand, there may not be available spots for you, and you'll end up on a waiting list. And even if you get accepted, the incubator may not have enough resources for you – you may not receive even the minimum support you could have obtained from the incubator.

These four factors are essential when choosing whom to send your project to. In some cases, people have sent their pitch decks in a carpet-bombing manner – that also works. At this stage, you need to get at least one "yes," and it doesn't matter who it's from. It doesn't hold any value other than being a formal requirement: you need one "yes," and preferably two, to move forward.


  • basic description,
  • motivational letter,
  • selected incubators,
  • sent out applications,
  • waited for a "yes."

Usually, you attach your pitch deck to the incubators. They typically look at a basic, standard pitch deck for a startup; there's no need to describe any particular details.

Let's imagine everything worked out for you. You have one "yes." What's next?

You go to the part of the platform where you need to fill in information about your project. Business metrics, the goals you will achieve over the next five years, and so on. It's essential to show that in five years, you will have:

  • €325,000 in turnover
  • You will hire two local employees for your company.

This turnover is a crucial aspect. Not profit, not EBITDA, but turnover.

You fill in these details, and then you can click on the coveted button that leads you to happiness.

There's another point there. When you fill in the information for all your team members, here's a life hack: there's a primary document checklist: a certificate of good conduct, a copy of your passport, a bank statement showing the availability of funds, a CV with a photograph, contact phone number, and email. Plus, you need to describe what each team member does – it's a tiny window; simply write, "Julia is a great employee, responsible for the content, an indispensable person, must be brought to Portugal," just like that. Nothing complicated. Don't overcomplicate it.

After that, the most exciting part (not really) begins – waiting for a response from the agency.

I've been advised to play the lottery because our case was exceptional last year. We received a response within the legally stipulated period of 30 business days. No one expected that – usually, the wait is longer, up to 6 months. This is important to consider.

Our team was planning to go to Chile. We applied in May, and we planned to move in late autumn. I knew the timelines would be extended. I repeat this is rare.

This visa cannot be an evacuation plan because it's a lengthy process. It's great, but this waiting period for a decision is incredibly exhausting.

So, we waited for seven months. You receive the coveted message: your case has been analyzed, and we have made a decision. And there are two types of decisions: favorable and unfavorable, meaning yes or no.

The critical point is that Portugal doesn't fully understand cases related to crypto or web3. These cases pass and receive approval, but based on my experience, linear projects that work with communities, b2c, improving life, or environmental projects are very well received in Portugal.

The decision arrives, and you're happy and excited, but it's not.

Your task ahead is to choose how you will enter the country. There are two options.

The first one is to apply for a D visa and then convert it into a residence permit (Visto de Residência) at the immigration service in Portugal.

The second option is to enter through the Schengen area and legalize your stay in Portugal. But this, as we call it, involves some pleasant hassle.

Everything happened lightning-fast for us. We didn't expect to receive approval from the Ministry so quickly, so we signed up with an incubator that did everything very quickly, not in a Portuguese way, but really fast. It was great, and we arrived in October. We live in Figueira da Foz and are extremely happy with our decision because it's a great place to breathe.

Portugal has the potential to become a Silicon Valley. Many incredible people come here, and a massive concentration of startups exists. There's a significant concentration of talented individuals, but it still needs to be quiet in the Valley, and it's essential to understand that. From a fundraising perspective, it's difficult here. You have to look for money outside. If you're looking at it as a place to raise investments, forget it—it's challenging, with tiny amounts, and not very productive.

But it's a fantastic place if you need a European base for your startup. This works in your favor for raising European investments and investments in Latin America because Portugal has connections with Brazil, in particular.

Plus, the overall vibe of the country makes it easy to communicate with people, to make connections. The ease of establishing initial contact is of enormous importance for B2C startups because it's important to talk to the user.

Let's go back. Coming with a D visa in your passport, applying for an appointment at the Portuguese Immigration Service (SEF), and obtaining a residence permit (Visto de Residência) is transparent. But let's briefly explain the option of coming on a tourist visa and getting a residence permit.

I have a residence permit in Germany, so my situation is slightly different. Let me tell you about my co-founder's experience with this process.

You apply for a visa, for example, to Spain. With that visa, you legally enter Portuguese territory. Make sure to keep your boarding passes if you fly. If you enter by land, on the first night, you stay in a hostel, hotel, or similar accommodation and obtain a confirmation of your legal residence from the reception. This is an important point.

Next, you open a bank account locally, which also takes time. If you think that once you arrive, you can immediately go to SEF (immigration service), that's a mistaken belief. Currently, SEF appointments are open every five months. We called SEF in November; the next available appointment was in March.

An important point: the declarations you receive during the previous stage are valid for 180 days. Unfortunately, this is not much. Additionally, dealing with daily matters can take a month or two, depending on your living situation.

Regarding the bank account, you must deposit €9,120, twelve times the Portuguese minimum wage. By showing this, you demonstrate that you have enough funds to live in the country for a year. I recommend offering €10,000 or more. You deposit this amount into a Portuguese bank account. Currently, only Caixa Geral Depositos opens charges without a residence permit and with Russian passports.

You must:

  • Find accommodation - sign an official contract registered with the tax authority and obtain a certificate from the local administration.
  • Obtain a NIF (tax identification number).

Obtain a NISS (social security number).

  • These cannot be done in a week. The process here takes time, so you should allow a month or two to resolve these matters.

An essential point for, as they say, anxious readers: if you enter Portugal with a Schengen visa, you may wonder about the limitations. According to COVID legislation, all individuals who overstay in Portugal to legalize their stay are considered to be legally on Portuguese territory until December 31, 2023.

Those without worries can wait for the D visa. The option for the anxious ones is to enter through the Schengen area.Elena Lipilina founded Visible Sports, a "booking" for those looking for sports and generally wanting to lead an active lifestyle. Alyona studied in Finland, USA, and Germany and recently moved to Portugal on a startup visa. Read the step-by-step guide on how to get a startup residency: how to write a business plan and motivation letter, what documents you need, how to choose a mentor and much more.

Are you planning to move to Portugal on a Startup visa?
Book a 30-minute consultation with immigration expert Alena
Learn more

Part 3. "Booking" for those who want to lead an active lifestyle


Thank you for such detailed step-by-step instructions. Let's talk about the project itself. I've concluded that it is a "Booking for sports." It sounds intriguing. Please tell me about your startup.

Booking and Airbnb are the platforms I primarily looked to when creating this project. They solve a very pressing problem. Imagine a world without Booking and Airbnb. If I were to say, "Julia, let's go to Paris. Please book accommodation for us," we would start googling and being bombarded with 100,500 hotels, each with poorly designed and often monstrous websites. Meanwhile, we could have been buying tickets to the Louvre. This overwhelming abundance of scattered information hinders the enjoyable planning of our travel experiences.

The same problem exists in sports, or rather, in the realm of an active lifestyle. As someone who has moved a lot and whose first concern is finding activities to stay active, I have encountered this problem very clearly. I played basketball and American football, and whenever I arrived in a new city... I propose an experiment for our readers: regardless of the sport you engage in, just type the name of the sport and the city into Google and see what comes up.

You may find something for yourself more quickly if you're a man. But if you're a woman or belong to a narrower social group, I am ready to argue that your search will either be unsuccessful or require a significant amount of time. That's because all this information is scattered across social media platforms, smeared across dreadful websites, half of which don't even work, and so on.

The idea is that it shouldn't be this way. There should be less than seven hours of internet surfing between you and an active lifestyle. Goodness gracious, we live in the 21st century, almost in the 22nd century, with artificial intelligence. Our message is: Stop searching. Start playing.

The problem is that people who organize something must learn how to get into your field of view.

And if volleyball, tennis, running, and yoga are what give you energy? It's like walking through a desert without water.

It's the same resource for a person as anything else, like the opportunity to sing for those who can sing, play a musical instrument, visit museums, read books — pick anything.

The task of our project is to gather all this scattered information, similar to booking, in one place—on the Visible Sports website. Why is it called that? Because we make sports "visible" to you, you become "visible" when you engage in sports.

This is especially important for women because they often go unnoticed. A book called "Invisible Women" even has a whole section dedicated to women playing something in the streets. If we walk around in my very sports-oriented city in Portugal, you'll mostly see boys or men playing.

For women, it is essential to find their supportive community, including within the realm of sports. We even had the idea of conducting mini-interviews, asking why women don't play with them and then asking women why they don't play with them. The answers would be completely different.

I know that the MigRun platform has a great audience. Part of this audience has already moved or will be moving to a new country. Suppose you organize something like volleyball, basketball, or anything else and want to find people for your initiative. In that case, you can register on the platform and freely share information about yourself.

Each sports initiative will have its presence on the internet with its link, photos, videos, and descriptions.

Later on, we will add a booking feature so that people can sign up for, let's say, a training session.

Searching for sports activities is just the tip of the iceberg. Naturally, it doesn't end there. A person who is engaged in something usually searches for many things. For example, a team looks for tournaments to participate in, and games, in turn, look for groups.

Here's an example from life: It was my birthday, and I went to a district called Luz, which is known in all the guidebooks as an area with great outdoor activities. Can you believe that I couldn't find a single outdoor activity online? I wanted to, you know, but I couldn't find anything. I need help finding information about any active and exciting things to do in Luz on any website. Nothing! Absolutely nothing! But people do this business; they organize kayaking, canyoning, and more. Portugal is a beautiful country for these kinds of things, truly unique.

The same goes for fitness trainers or sports coaches: they often look for new students, an audience. And people often look for fitness trainers when they're in a new place. The list goes on and on indefinitely.

And let's say you just want someone to play ball with or go for a run in the mornings—how do you find a company? You can also do that on the platform. It's like a sports version of Tinder in a positive sense. We also integrated that feature to allow people to connect individually.

The world of an active lifestyle is vast, and countless requests exist. It's a shame that this lack of connection separates people, keeping them away from sports activities and fully living their lives.

MR: It's still a great way to create a community, find new acquaintances, and make friends. It's essential for immigrants. Does this platform only work in Portugal, or can I also see a running coach or company in Germany or the Netherlands?

You can. The platform is accessible to everyone without any geographic restrictions. The only thing is that it's currently available only in English. But you can communicate in your native language; the platform interface is English. If that's okay with you, there are no limitations at all.

However, it's essential to understand that it's unlikely that there will be many clients right away for those who have already registered on the platform. We are currently looking for those who want to be part of the platform, who believe in us and understand that it's a great tool to make themselves visible, to be the first to jump on this spaceship. It's similar to any other platform: those who are the first to claim their spot receive more advantages, like a free lifetime deal or something that helps them promote themselves. So, wherever you are and whatever you offer, there will always be a place for you on our platform. We are open to that.

If we go back to immigration in general, what advice can you give someone who has just moved? What's next? How should they conduct themselves? Where should they start? What should they be prepared for?

Firstly, take a moment and acknowledge to yourself, "I have done a tough thing. I uprooted myself and moved to a completely different planet. I will give myself time to adapt. It won't be easy, but I'm amazing. At this point, I'm a huge success. I have immense courage and strength, and I've achieved so much."

Secondly, understand and accept that the immigrant's rollercoaster and adaptation cycle are real. It's not a joke; you will go through these stages with varying durations and intensities, but you will go through them. It's part of your experience. You will have moments of euphoria, times when you feel down, and things that frustrate you, and then you'll feel good again, and it will keep changing. Eventually, you will adapt, but at first, you'll miss everything familiar to you—that's normal, absolutely normal. It's part of the process.

Encountering bureaucracy or facing challenging situations doesn't mean you've failed in immigration. It's impossible to fall in immigration—you're already here, and that's a considerable achievement. Sometimes, a person makes a choice and says, "I can't handle it here," and that's also okay. It's essential to listen to yourself.

But if you've already decided to move, it's crucial to understand that your adaptation cycle has begun, and it's important not to rush yourself. Give yourself time to experience all the ups and downs of your immigration journey.

Accept people around you as they are because, as immigrants, we expect others to accept us, but how can we expect that if we don't do the same? Specifically in Portugal, people are "simpatico," and I love that about this country. I like being "simpatico," and it's part of who I am. I dislike being suspicious or encountering toxic remarks—that's not me. I feel good here, and patience and a smile can solve everything. Well, not everything, but some things can be resolved that way.

And the third point: it's essential to surround yourself with resourceful things. Remember what gives you strength. And going back to the topic, let's say sports: if sports and physical activity provide you with power, please remember that it's a resource for you.

There are better strategies than isolating yourself globally. But sometimes it's okay to separate yourself, to curl up and say, "I can't take it anymore, I can't handle it"—that's normal. It happens. But it's important to understand that it's not very good to remain in that state constantly because you'll be cutting yourself off from essential experiences in your life. By fearing to venture outside, you'll miss out on the beauty that this experience can bring. So, I believe saying "yes" to unexpected things is essential. Within reason and safety, of course.

Be open to change, be open to the fact that things may not be as they seem, and learn a new language. I recommend understanding the history of your country and trying to connect with some locals who might be interested. Of course, expecting you to fit into every local household in a new country is unrealistic.

It's a complex, challenging stage of your life, but it's worth it. No matter how immigration turns out, it's a part of your life that you can and should be proud of. It will give you some precious things without labeling them good or bad. It will provide you with something that's simply important to you, and your task is to accept it and transform it into something essential and meaningful for yourself.

If you plan to apply for a startup visa in Portugal and have questions, you can book a consultation with Alena, who will help you understand everything.

Are you planning to move to a European country?

You can do a lot independently, but contact us if you need expert help:

  • subscribe to detailed guides 
  • book a consultation with an immigration expert 
  • sign up for a chat room with an immigration lawyer and assistant who knows the specifics of immigration from your country.

See more details here. 

Got a question? Contact us!

To stay up-to-date on immigration news, subscribe to us:

Are you planning to move to Portugal on a Startup visa?
Book a 30-minute consultation with immigration expert Alena
Learn more
Yulia Bykova
Immigrant and writer
all materials →
Elena L.
Immigration expert
CV and reviews →
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Ask anything for free

Subscribe to our newsletter

To stay up-to-date on immigration news and our promotions, subscribe to us
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
By clicking “Accept All”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.