Portuguese Golden Visa Program: New Benefits Explained

2024 Update

What is the Portuguese Golden Visa Program? 

The Portugal Residence Permit for Investment Purposes (commonly referred to as a “ARI” or Portugal Golden Visa Program) was launched in October 2012 as a fast-track method for foreign nationals to potentially secure residency or a second citizenship in Europe after 5 years.  

Applicants meeting the eligibility requirements for a qualifying investment or contribution may obtain the right to live, study and work in Portugal for themselves, their spouse, their parents, minor children, and dependent children over 18 who are single, childless and in full-time education. As Portugal is a member of the European Union, holders of the Portugal Golden Visa enjoy free travel within the Schengen area.  

The program would only require applicants meeting the eligibility criteria to visit Portugal for a minimum of 7 days in the first year of residence and 14 days in each subsequent two-year period to maintain the residence permit. No language or management experience is required, making the program widely accessible.  

Since its inception, the Portugal Golden Visa Program has enjoyed significant popularity among investors, as more than 25,000 residency permits have been issued by the Portuguese authorities to foreign nationals and their qualifying family members.  

Portuguese Golden Visa Program: New Benefits Explained

Is a golden visa for Portugal worth it?

The Portugal Golden Visa has many considerable benefits and unparalleled advantages.

The program not only facilitates residency, but also provides a pathway to citizenship after five years of sustained investment. The program may also grant access to Europe’s robust healthcare and education systems, as well as the opportunity to enjoy visa-free travel within the Schengen Area. 

Additionally, the favorable tax regime and high-quality lifestyle features make Portugal an attractive destination for investors. Engaging in this program can undeniably serve as a lucrative and rewarding endeavor.

The Portuguese Golden Visa Program can be a suitable solution for individuals seeking a strategic advantage in global mobility and lifestyle enhancement, with access to a significant amount of personal and professional opportunities.

Recent changes to the Portugal Golden Visa program

On 6th October 2023, the Portuguese authorities through its Law No. 56/2023 made several major changes to the Portugal Golden Visa Program. Under the newly revamped program, foreign nationals will no longer be able to qualify for the program by investing in real estate or transferring EUR 1.5 million into a Portuguese bank account.

In short, to qualify for the program under the new rules, applicants may complete one of the following: 

  1. Invest EUR 500,000 investment into qualifying Portuguese Investment Funds which must be held for at least 5 years after receiving the residence permit and a minimum of 60% of the investments must be realized in commercial companies headquartered in Portugal. 
     
  2. Donate EUR 250,000 by way of capital transfer which is applied in investment or support to artistic production, recovery or maintenance of the national cultural heritage, through qualified public entities or private foundations with public utility status.  

The investment or donation must be maintained until Permanent Residency or Citizenship is received.  

Earlier this year, the Portuguese Parliament approved a change to Portuguese law allowing for Portugal Golden Visa holders to apply for naturalization after 5 years starting from the date the temporary residence permit is requested, rather than 5 years starting from the date of issuance of the Golden Visa residence permit. This would be regardless of the duration of the process to get approval.  

This measure was approved by the Portuguese Parliament to compensate applicants for the extended delays by Portugal’s border agency (now known as the Integration, Migration and Asylum Agency “AIMA”) that are no fault of the applicants. This change in the application process is expected to take effect shortly.

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    Who may be impacted by these changes?

    Although foreign investors are no longer able to apply for the Portugal Golden Visa by purchasing real estate or by transferring EUR 1.5 million to a Portuguese bank account, it will still be possible to renew Golden Visa residence permits granted based on such investments. Additionally, holders of the Golden Visa residence permit can now renew their visas online.  

    The new five year wait to naturalization starting from the date of application for residency will apply to those who already hold the Golden Visa residence permit but are yet to be naturalized as well as new applicants.  

    A note of caution

    We have recently become aware of certain groups promoting investment funds with links to real estate as an investment option under the program. However, the law is clear that the investment for the program cannot be intended, directly or indirectly, to be a real estate investment.   

    We would advise all applicants, including potential investors, to proceed with caution with such funds. Our concerns are not so much about the legality of these investment options but the way the officer in charge of the file may interpret them – opening the possibility for additional requests for information and explanations after submission of the initial application which would consequentially delay a decision from being rendered. Considering the numerous funds available without any real estate components, we believe that opting for a fund with real estate components may lead to unnecessary delays and, in a very worst scenario, a refusal.   

    The recent changes made to the Portugal Golden Visa Program will affect many current and future applicants. Nonetheless, the Portugal Golden Visa Program remains a widely accessible program that offers a wide range of benefits that may suit a variety of immigration needs – whether looking to obtain a powerful second citizenship in Europe, starting a business or retiring abroad.  

    Acquiring residency or citizenship in Portugal

    Those interested in acquiring residency or citizenship in Portugal or Europe could also consider the Portugal D7 visa and other European residency and citizenship programs. If you are interested in learning more about these programs, please contact your local Harvey Law Group (HLG) office here for more details. Founded in 1992, HLG is a leading multinational law firm with offices across Asia, North and South America, Europe, Africa, and the Middle East to cater to your specific needs for immigration and beyond.  

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