The current COVID-19 circumstances have been throwing doubts upon a wide range of both life activities and business operations across our world. From local to international businesses, most businesses are without doubt effected by all lockdown measures meant to ease crisis that come with inevitable and detrimental consequences. Amongst those effected are the high-net-worth individuals (HNWI) – who have, since March, now begun to look for alternative residency solutions – as governments strive to improve the finance-battered economies through increased taxes on the HNWI.
While the circumstance allows the wealthy to think twice about the basic security and mobility of their future in their home countries, the immigration by investment industry has benefited from the doubts. Travel restrictions and news of multiple Golden Visa programs suspended has created growing confusion and concerns. The number of questions now falls upon one of the most successful residency-by-investment program in Europe, the Portugal Residency Permit aka Golden Visa. Is the program active or suspended? How can one even apply? Can I still travel freely through the Schengen countries as a Golden Visa holder?
At Harvey Law Group (HLG), our professional immigration lawyers encounter a plethora of questions from concerned potential applicants and investors. We are committed to responding daily to all difficult questions about the Portugal Golden Visa, making it an important mission to provide accurate information, valuable knowledge and insights. Here, we update everything we know about the current Portugal Golden Visa after the COVID-19 pandemic ‘new normal’:
1. Is the program still open?
Yes. The program remains open.
All matters related to the application including NIF (tax number) issuance, the initial SEF application, the opening of a bank account and Notary, are open as usual, including now face-to-face interviews for biometrics of which appointments now begin to resume after the temporary suspension expired on July 1, 2020.
2. How can I apply?
All documents pertaining to your initial application are submitted online. After the request is approved, you must, however, appear in person for a biometric interview as usual. Note that advance booking for an interview is a requirement. Given equal treatment, each appointment shall be, therefore, assigned from July 1 in chronological order.
3. How is the current COVID-19 situation within the country?
As unbelievable as it might sound, the country has managed the COVID-19 situation far better than any other neighboring country. During mid-March, both Portugal and Spain declared its state of emergency, but one month later, both countries “seem to be facing very different situations,” notes Alasdair Fotheringham, a British foreign affairs and sports journalist. [SH1]
While Spain’s total registered infections reached the highest number in Europe on April 16 with 182,816 cases, “the coronavirus toll in Portugal, which, despite having around a fifth of Spain’s population, had 18,841 infections as of Friday, roughly a tenth of Spain’s number,” reports Fotheringham.
“Portugal has been widely praised for its early response to the pandemic,” notes Alyssa McMurtry, a Canadian journalist in a report on May 28. “It was one of the first European countries to call a state of emergency and enforce a lockdown.”
For such reasons, the country has been able to lift all its lockdown measures and begun to heal faster than any other country. “While Britain has been tangling itself in yellow tape, Portugal is back at work with simple but effective hygiene measures,” expresses Paul Nuki, an Editor at Telegraph on June 29 after the country had resumed all its life activities and business operations
But this is not indeed the first time that Portugal has demonstrated its capacity and efficiency. “SARS-CoV-2 arrived on March 2, almost a month after it hit Italy and Spain, and the government made the most of the reprieve,” notes Jorge Branco, and on March 19, while Portugal announced 785 cases confirmed, “just five days after, Spain did the same with more than 6,000” (Branco, 2020).
According to recent data and statistics compiled by CoronaTracker, the COVID-19 fatality rate in Portugal is just 3.5%, compared to its neighboring countries, such as Spain which achieved 9.2% of fatality rate, and Italy of 14.3%.
In summary, the overall performance demonstrates Portugal’s efficiency in public policies and safety measures in the light of COVID-19. Although with a slight spike during late June, the country was quick to address the issue, restoring lockdown measures only in some affected areas, and now begins to proceed as usual.
4. Is it still a good option? Compared to all other programs, is it now even an acceptable program?
The Portugal Golden Visa still comes with the same comprehensive benefits; the pandemic does not diminish or alter what a successful applicant will derive and benefit from the program.
Indeed, following the Portuguese government’s announcement to postpone its Golden Visa scheme change to block investors from purchasing a property in central Lisbon and Porto until further notice due to COVID-19, there has been a discussion that there is no better time to apply for the Portugal Golden Visa than now. Particularly if an applicant wishes to select a property around central Lisbon and Porto as his/her investment property.
Considering such facts and the country’s incredible performance on COVID-19, it is unsurprising that the program is now hailed as “the undisputed winner of 2020 so far amongst other Golden Visa programs” with the total number of 1,922 successful main applicants from January to June. The Portugal Golden Visa has brought in a total investment of EUR 383 million by mid-year 2020, a 52% benchmark of 2019’s total” (Henrik, 2020).
5. Does HLG operate as usual? Is an immigration law firm or an immigration lawyer even necessary, given the online process?
Yes, HLG operates as usual, and an authorized immigration lawyer remains a core component of a successful application. The digital process simplifies merely a process of application but does not ensure you a wise decision, let alone an approved one. There are still multiple investment options you must ponder upon and select, and all other areas of which only a professional immigration lawyer can guide you. It is thus important that you consult your trusted and authorized immigration lawyer first before taking any steps.