Founder of Global Residence Index
Last updated: February 21, 2024
The Portuguese Golden Visa provides a pathway to long-term EU residency and citizenship through strategic investment. The Golden Visa program launched in 2012 and is consistently a top performer in the investment migration industry.
The Portuguese program is the only golden visa program that can lead to EU citizenship without physical presence over a five-year residency period. The alternative is the citizenship program of Malta, a very different program because of its €700,000 donation requirement, amongst other investment criteria.
From my perspective, 2023 has been a turbulent time for the program and advising clients on the Portuguese Golden Visa. The Portuguese government had several parliamentary sessions to determine the program’s future. I was relieved when clarity and some might say sanity prevailed, as the continuation of the Portuguese Golden Visa legislation passed and is effective from 7th October 2023.
In this guide, I will outline the Portuguese Golden Visa program as approved by the President of Portugal in October 2023, which applies here in 2024.
The most significant change is removing any investment into real estate to be eligible for the Golden Visa. Investors will need to look into alternative options for the Golden Visa, as real estate investments were over 90% of all applicants until 2021. However, 2022 and 2023 have seen a change towards moving away from real estate and into investment funds.
I will share some of the knowledge I’ve gathered over the years to avoid common pitfalls and ensure you make an informed investment that leads to strong returns and a clear pathway to Portuguese citizenship. The new legislation allows for exciting and yield-bearing investments, stimulating the local economy and awarding its investors residence in Portugal. The Golden Visa fund option is a top choice for investors and our clients enjoy the simplicity of the investment while allowing for a varied level of risk to reward.
Obtaining the Portuguese Golden Visa requires expertise to navigate bureaucratic complexities. When the company first assisted clients with their applications, our team members realized how daunting the process can be.
After years of success stories, the team has honed a proven method to streamline our advisory service to establish the right strategy for clients and complete their Golden Visa applications for Portugal. We remain dedicated to simplifying the process while helping clients diversify assets and unlock new opportunities.
The loss of the real estate option is a continuing debate amongst professionals in the industry. Some argue that removing it will stifle the applicants, and they will opt for other Golden Visa programs in Greece, Cyprus, or Spain. Others believe there will be innovation in the investment options, and investors will see better returns on their investments outside of real estate.
The first three investment criteria are allowed to be reduced by 20% if the location of the activity is in a low-density jurisdiction. Low density is classified as a location with less than 100 inhabitants per km2 or less than 75% of the national average.
Our team’s analysis for each client largely depends on the client’s goals and circumstances. The new legislation and criteria allow investors to participate actively or passively in their investments. The investment capital is also a significant consideration. The routes essentially allow for zero upfront capital investment requirement but up to €500,000.
The Golden Visa allows applicants to start a business and employ eight to ten employees. The applicant must submit a business plan, register a company in Portugal, and begin to employ eight to ten people in the first year of being awarded the Golden Visa. An annual submission shows records of employment for the Golden Visa to be continued. This option is for companies to open service operations in Portugal.
Although the route does not require any major upfront investment, there will be some investment into setting up an office or infrastructure to operate a functional business. The employment route will not be passive and involve some active participation from the investor.
The Portuguese government allows investors to participate in providing capital for cultural, artistic, and heritage projects that a municipal and public cultural association has approved. To date, there has been very little project exposure in this route, and to the team’s knowledge, there have been philanthropic donations from Golden Visa holders.
The investment bracket is €250,000 but can be €200,000 if the project is in a low-density area.
This option is an “if” statement for investors. Please note my ears are close to the ground to identify viable and secure investments that are approved for Culture, Arts, and Heritage.
The Golden Visa fund option for the Portuguese Golden Visa is a familiar and popular option for hopeful applicants. This is a top choice for my firm in its advisory service to clients for the Golden Visa.
The capital investment into the Golden Visa funds opened in 2019 but had only seven investors in its first year of operation according to SEF statistics. The investment fund option saw growth to forty-eight applicants in 2020 and eighty-one in 2021.
From 1st January, the fund option increased its ticket size to €500,000. One would have thought that the increase would slow applicants. Nothing is further from the truth, as there were 235 Golden Visas issued in 2022 and 302 issued up to September 2023.
After the second renewal of the Golden Visa, applicants must spend another fourteen days in Portugal during year four or five of their residence period. At the end of five years, applicants can apply for permanent residence. The end of five years effectively ends the investment criteria, and investors may withdraw their investment and still maintain residence in Portugal as a permanent residence.
At the same time as applying for permanent residence, applicants can also apply for citizenship. The following criteria will assist the applicant to be successful in their application and naturalization as a Portuguese citizen.
There are three additional costs that investors and their dependents need to pay for the Golden Visa. There is an initial €533 processing fee for a primary applicant and €83 for each dependent applicant. The application and Golden Visa fee is €5,325 for each applicant and €2,663 for each renewal.
There are professional and legal fees when going through the Golden Visa application process. These fees are necessary to ensure that the applicant’s investment is placed into a safe and secure investment.
Secondly, Global Residence Index places incredible importance on case management for clients. Our team follows a clear and strategic plan that has been tried and tested with hundreds of clients. We work only with the best products in the investment industry and partners with a similar mindset to client efficiency.
You are more than welcome to book a consultation with one of our global advisors.
Our advisory team will walk through each process step, highlight potential investment opportunities, and provide direct access to our partners.
The process can take between 10 to 14 months to complete.
No, you must spend over 183 days in Portugal during a fiscal year or maintain a permanent residence solely in Portugal without any other country in consideration to be a tax resident.
Your eligible dependents for the Golden Visa program in Portugal include your spouse or partner, children below the age of 18, adult children over 18 who rely on you financially, provided they are enrolled in full-time education and unmarried, as well as siblings under 18 of either you or your spouse/partner, granted you or your partner have legal custody of them.
Dependent parents who are over 55 years old or older than 65 without the need for additional documentation can also be considered as qualifying dependents.
Golden Visa holders can apply for citizenship after completing the physical presence requirements and holding the initial investment over five years.
Becoming a Portuguese citizen provides instant advantages like EU citizenship, a powerful passport for visa-free travel, access to social services, voting rights, unrestricted property ownership, and more accessible business prospects. It also offers inheritance rights, increased mobility within the EU, and a richer cultural immersion experience. As local citizens, children can study across Europe, granting free tuition or significantly reduced rates.
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Navigating through golden visa & citizenship by investment programs can be complex and overwhelming, regardless of the country or program you’re interested in. If you’re struggling to find clear, accurate information, you’re not alone. Our team is here to offer you clarity and reliable advice across a wide range of immigration programs.
By scheduling a consultation, you’ll receive personalized guidance tailored to your unique situation. We’re dedicated to helping you understand the details of various immigration programs, making them more straightforward so you can proceed with confidence.
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