News was announced in November 2022, when the Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa indicated that the Portuguese golden visa is "no longer justified" – hinting at the prospect that the end of the famous residency-by-investment programme may be in sight.

History

The Portuguese golden visa programme was introduced in Portugal in 2012, to attract much needed foreign investment into the country. It came at a time when government effort was needed to fix Portugal's public finances, following the 2011 bailout from the European Union.

So far it has been one of the world's most popular residency-by-investment programmes, raising €6.6 billion from over 20,000 individuals (according to the Portuguese Immigration and Border Services), with a spectrum of benefits, including the right to live, work and study in Portugal and visa-free travel within the Schengen Area for a period of five years.

The biggest investors have been from China, however, it is expected that Americans are poised to surpass them in 2022, for the first time.

Emotional Reaction

The potential change is prompting an emotional reaction from many, who are considering investing into the programme and who are keen to ensure that their 'plan B' residency option is in place, before the expiry of the Portuguese golden visa.

Likely to be Advanced Warning of a Timeframe

It is important to note, though, as we have seen in the past, that changes made in the Portuguese golden visa programme typically have a timeframe applied during which the opportunity to apply for the programme will continue. Currently there is no confirmation in terms of when we may expect to see the end of the Portuguese golden visa, however, it is very likely that the timeline is finite and will come to an end sometime in the future.

Political Commentary

The likelihood of an advanced warning is supported by the fact that, earlier this year, there was a proposal to end the golden visa programme which was rejected. More recently, on 22 November 2022 the socialist party, which forms the current majority government in office, rejected the communist party's proposal to introduce the end of the golden visa in the state budget for 2023.

This is despite the fact that, as mentioned earlier by the Prime Minister, the Government is evaluating the possibility of ending the regime. It is important to note, however, that a working group has been appointed to analyse the impact of the programme in the country and that this is a topic with a moving target and susceptible to change in the future.

What Action Should be Taken?

Investors who wish to enter the visa programme should do so sooner rather than later, to avoid the rush that was seen at the end of 2021, when the golden visa investment thresholds increased, with some losing out on being able to enjoy the lower investment rate, due to the influx of applications seen at the eleventh hour.

For those who have already invested in the Portuguese golden visa programme, the benefits of having the visa will remain and the commitment to those who have gained a visa, before the end of the visa programme, will be honoured.

Benefits Available Through the Golden Visa Programme

Benefits for those whose applications have been accepted, include the following:

  • Visa-free travel in Europe's Schengen Area and the right to live, work, and study in Portugal
  • Eligibility to apply for citizenship after five years as a legal resident while keeping other citizenship(s)
  • Low physical presence requirement: 7 days during the first year of residence and 14 days for the two subsequent years, which can count towards citizenship eligibility after five years
  • Excellent international and Portuguese schools and universities
  • High quality of life, local cuisine and wines, rich culture, mild climate, and a high level of security
  • International quality healthcare clinics and hospitals
  • A country where people actually want to live and bring up their families, compared to some other jurisdictions who are offering other types of CBI programs
  • Only 7 days on average per annum stay in Portugal is required, over the five year golden visa period

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