VISAS AND PERMITS
What is Portugals Golden Visa
Portugal's Golden Visa is a program designed to attract non-EU/EFTA nationals to invest in the country. The program was launched in 2012 and since then has been a fast way to obtaining a residency permit in Portugal. To be eligible for the Golden Visa, applicants must make a qualifying investment in one of several categories. These include a capital transfer of at least €1 million into Portugal, creating at least 10 job positions, purchasing property worth at least €500,000, investing in scientific research or Portuguese arts and culture, or investing in small- and medium-sized businesses in Portugal, among others. The program has been successful in attracting investment, with over 4,200 Golden Visas issued, injecting more than €2.5 billion into the Portuguese economy.
The Golden Visa provides temporary residence permits for one year, which can be renewed for two-year periods. After five years Golden VISA applicants can apply for residency, on the sixth year. Holders of the Golden Visa enjoy various benefits, including the ability to live and work in Portugal, visa-free travel within the Schengen Area, access to healthcare and education systems, and the option for family reunification.
There have been updates to the Golden VISA. While it was initially announced that the program would end for new applicants due to housing concerns, the Portuguese government later clarified that the program would continue with certain changes. The changed made to the Golden VISA mainly affected the investment into real estate, but there are still plenty of other avenues for investment.
Overall, Portugal's Golden Visa program provides an attractive opportunity for non-EU investors to obtain residency in Portugal and potentially citizenship, while contributing to the country's economy through investment.
The worries that the Golden VISA has created
Notwithstanding the Uncertainty About the Golden Visa, Portugal Continues to Be a Friendly Expat Destination
The financial advisory business has been shaken by the recent revelation of Portugal's decision to end its golden visa program. The Authorization of Residence for Investment Activity program has increased Portugal's allure as a place of permanent residence for foreign investors.
The golden visa program offers non-EU citizens the chance to get permanent residency in return for financial contributions to the economy or purchase of residential property. To counteract real estate price speculation, however, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa announced on February 16 that the government would no longer issue new golden visas.
The decision to end the program was motivated by worries about the disproportionate increase in home prices caused by expat demand. Yet, not everyone shares this opinion. There have been no changes to Portuguese law, therefore the golden visa program is theoretically still accepting applicants.
Changes to the program are expected, although it is unclear what those changes will include. When announced, revisions must be reviewed and accepted by the government before becoming law. This won't happen quickly, and any changes shouldn't be retroactive either, as is required by Portuguese law at the moment.
There is hope that a more permanent long-term solution will emerge to replace the golden visa scheme and maintain Portugal's attractiveness as a haven for expatriates to settle.
It's important to remember that these changes only affect the gold visa program and won't have any bearing on the Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) rules. Qualified foreign nationals still have the NHR program, D7 visa, and D2 visa as viable options.
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