What is the Portuguese Golden Visa Program?

The Portuguese Residence Permit for Investment (commonly referred to as a "ARI" or Golden Visa Program) is an initiative from the Portuguese government started in October 2012. It is widely regarded as the most popular vehicle for foreign investors seeking to secure a residency permit in Europe that may potentially lead to either permanent residency or citizenship after 5 years. Since its inception, more than 25,000 residency permits have been issued by the Portuguese authorities to foreign investors and their qualifying family members.

In short, to qualify for the Golden Visa Program, the investor may complete one of the following investments:

  1. The purchase of real estate (residential or commercial) with a minimum value of EUR 500,000;
  2. The purchase of real estate (residential or commercial) with a minimum value of EUR 350,000 with construction dating back more than 30 years or located in urban regeneration areas, and with a commitment to be refurbished;
  3. Capital transfer of a minimum of EUR 350,000 into an SEC-approved Investment Fund or Venture Capital Fund dedicated to the capitalisation of Portuguese companies with a maturity period of at least five years.

What are the changes?

On February 12th of 2021, the Portuguese authorities, through its Decree-Law No. 14/2021 issued by the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, announced several changes to the Golden Visa Program and impacting, among others, investors looking into purchasing properties and/or investing into a designated fund. Those changes will be implemented on January 1st, 2022.

The changes are broad and will notably impact the following investment streams:

  1. Real Estate. No investment threshold increase, but the properties intended for housing purposes should now be located in the Autonomous Regions of the Azores and Madeira or in certain inland areas of the country. Therefore, residential properties in Lisbon, Porto and the Algarve (coastal areas) will not be accepted anymore. Commercial or hospitability projects are not affected.
  2. Investment Fund. The minimum investment threshold will be increased from EUR 350,000 to EUR 500,000.

What impact would it have for submitted applications?

None. Those changes will be effective starting January 1, 2022, hence all applications duly submitted before said date will remain subject to the regulatory framework and investment threshold to which they were subject at the time of the submission.

Should I rush to apply now?

Are you looking at buying a residential property in Lisbon, Porto or the Algarve region? Or, are you considering the investment fund option? If your answer is 'yes', then you should start the process immediately in order to secure your position and submit your completed application before January 1st, 2022.

It is advisable to allow a sufficient amount of time to prepare your application as certain government agencies around the world are experiencing longer delays in the process of document issuance and legalization - required for Portugal Golden Visa applications.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.