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Portugal Golden Visa: Residency & Citizenship Guide in 2024

Mark Damsgaard

Mark Damsgaard

Founder of Global Residence Index

Last updated: May 20, 2024

Portugal Golden Visa: Residency & Citizenship Guide in 2024

In January 2024, Portugal’s Parliament passed legislation introducing significant amendments to the Golden Visa program. These changes include adjustments to the eligibility criteria and investment requirements. Notably, the option to obtain a Golden Visa through property investment ended in October 2023, marking a shift towards alternative investment avenues such as investment funds and scientific research.

In recent years, the Portugal Golden Visa has emerged as one of Europe’s most popular residency-by-investment programs, offering non-European Union investors a straightforward path to obtaining residency in Portugal. Officially referred to as the Autorização de Residência para Atividade de Investimento (ARI), the scheme has seen significant updates in 2024 to streamline the application process and provide more clarity to potential investors. These changes have been designed to ensure the program remains competitive, attractive, and beneficial for both Portugal and golden visa applicants.

With the updated regulations, applicants now benefit from a more efficient process that counts residency waiting time towards citizenship eligibility. Balancing investment opportunities with legal compliance, the program continues to offer a range of investment routes for obtaining a golden visa. As Portugal remains a gateway to life in Europe, with its rich culture and advantageous geographical position, the golden visa serves as a key that unlocks the potential for residency and eventual citizenship within this vibrant country.

Key Takeaways

  • The Portugal Golden Visa provides a path to Portuguese residency and citizenship through investment.
  • Recent program updates have improved efficiency, with clear investment routes and legal compliance.
  • Successful applicants gain access to Portugal and the wider Schengen Area.

Overview of the Portugal Golden Visa

The Portugal Golden Visa program stands as a gateway to Europe for investors, granting both residency and potential citizenship benefits. This program caters to non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizens, offering a streamlined path to residency through investment, with opportunities for visa-free travel within the Schengen Area.

Passports from Portugal

Purpose and Benefits

The Portugal Golden Visa, officially referred to as the Residence Permit for Investment Activity (ARI), is designed to attract international capital and promote economic growth within Portugal. The program’s advantages are substantial, with benefits including:

  • Residency Rights: Investors and their families gain the right to live, work, and study in Portugal.
  • Visa-Free Travel: Holders enjoy visa-free travel within the Schengen Area of Europe.
  • Path to Citizenship: After five years, investors may qualify for Portuguese citizenship and an EU passport, facilitating broader visa-free travel worldwide and the right to reside and work anywhere in the European Union.

History and Development

Launched in October 2012 amidst the country’s economic recovery efforts, the Portugal Golden Visa program was part of a broader strategy to attract foreign investment into Portugal. Amendments to the program occurred over the years, aligning it with changing economic needs and EU legislation. Most notably, property investment routes for residency had ceased by October 2023, yet the program continues to offer diverse investment options, such as contributing to a golden visa investment fund, to maintain its appeal in the global market.

Eligibility Criteria

To qualify for Portugal’s Golden Visa in 2024, applicants must meet specific eligibility criteria, including investment requirements and personal attributes. The following breaks down the core eligibility components for the main applicants and family inclusion.

Applicant Requirements

Applicants must:

  • Obtain a Portuguese NIF (Tax Identification Number).
  • Provide evidence of a clean criminal record from their country of residence and from Portugal.
  • Make a qualifying investment in Portugal, which may include real estate purchase, capital transfer, or investment in research activities.
  • Spend an average of 7 days per year in Portugal to maintain residency status.

Family members eligible for inclusion in the Golden Visa application are:

  • Spouse: The applicant’s legally recognized spouse or life partner is eligible.
  • Children: Dependent children under the age of 18, or of any age if they are full-time students and dependent.
  • Parents: Parents of either the applicant or the spouse, if they are dependent.

Eligibility for family members is contingent on the principal applicant’s successful application, and family members must also adhere to the clean criminal record requirement.

Investment Routes and Requirements as of 2024

Due to changes in regulations, the landscape of Portugal’s Golden Visa program has evolved, with several investment routes available to applicants in 2024.

Real Estate Investment is no longer an option

While real estate initially formed a cornerstone of the program, as of 2024, applicants can no longer pursue residency through property investment. This shift in policy excludes the previous options to invest in real estate for qualification.

Investment in Research and Development

Applicants can opt to invest a minimum of €500,000 in public or private scientific research institutions. This route supports the advancement of Portuguese scientific research and development efforts.

Investment Funds and Private Equity

Investing in approved investment funds or venture capital funds dedicated to capitalization of companies generates significant growth potential. A minimum investment fund contribution of €500,000 is the standard for candidates considering this option. These funds are specifically tailored for fostering economic activity in various sectors within Portugal and must meet certain criteria to be eligible for the program.

Cultural Heritage Donation

For those interested in contributing to the preservation of Portugal’s rich cultural heritage, a donation of €250,000 is required. These funds directly support the maintenance and restoration of the national cultural heritage under the Golden Visa program. The requirement is lowered to €200,000 in low-density areas.

Portugal’s Golden Visa program continues to offer diverse investment options that stimulate the country’s economy while providing opportunities for investors to gain residency, and potentially citizenship, within the European Union.

The Application Process

The pathway to Portuguese residency through the Golden Visa entails a series of precise steps and requires extensive documentation. Foreign investors are required to follow a structured timeline to achieve the approval of their residency permit.

Documentation and Paperwork

Applicants must begin by acquiring a Portuguese Fiscal Number (NIF) and opening a bank account in Portugal. The documentation needed includes proof of investment, a valid passport, and legal entry into Portugal, among other personal and financial documents. It is critical to have all documentation professionally translated into Portuguese.

Applicants with children are allowed to include dependents under 18 years old at no extra charge. However, for dependents aged 18 years and older, additional documentation and fees will apply.

Timeline and Approval Stages

The approval process for the Portugal Golden Visa consists of several stages:

  1. Expression of Interest & Pre-Approval: Submit an expression of interest online to SEF (Portuguese Immigration and Border Service), followed by a pre-approval stage where the investment activity is verified.
  2. Submission of Documents: After pre-approval, applicants submit their complete application along with the necessary paperwork.
  3. Biometric Data Collection: Once the documents are confirmed, applicants schedule an appointment with SEF to provide biometric data.
  4. Analysis and Approval: SEF reviews the application, biometric data, and conducts a background check. The entire process can take several months.
  5. Issuance of Residence Permit: Finally, applicants who meet all the requirements are issued a residence permit.

During this timeline, fees for the Golden Visa application and legal representation may range from €5,000 to €8,000 for single applicants, with a varying cost for dependents aged 18 and over. It is important to note that fees are subject to change; applicants should verify the current fee structure as part of their application process.

 

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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.

How we can help you:

  • Address any specific questions: We’ll answer your questions about the program and the application process, providing you with the clarity you need.
  • Detail every step: We’ll break down each stage of the immigration process, ensuring you know exactly what to expect.
  • Evaluate program suitability: We’ll help you determine if the chosen program is the right fit for you or suggest alternatives that may better align with your goals.
  • Connect you with local professionals: Gain access to our network of recommended local lawyers in the respective country, as well as trusted providers of eligible investment options.


 

Rights, Obligations, and Benefits

The Portugal Golden Visa program offers non-EU investors a comprehensive range of rights, obligations, and benefits, providing a pathway to residency and potential citizenship. It ensures both freedoms and a plea for adherence to regulatory compliance from the investors.

Freedom of Movement

Holders of the Portugal Golden Visa enjoy freedom of movement within the Schengen Area, allowing for travel across 26 European countries without the need for additional visas. This benefit significantly enhances the mobility of investors, offering ease of travel for business or pleasure. Individuals must maintain a stay requirement, which is minimal compared to other residency programs—staying in Portugal for just seven days in the first year and fourteen days in subsequent two-year periods.

Pathway to Citizenship

After five years of maintaining residency status and adhering to stay requirements, Golden Visa investors can apply for permanent residency and, subsequently, Portuguese citizenship through naturalization. This confers the right to work, study, and live anywhere in the European Union, similar to EU citizens.

Family Reunification

The program extends the benefits to family members, allowing for family reunification. The primary applicant’s spouse, children, and dependent parents are eligible for residency permits. This encompasses access to health care, education, and professional opportunities. Children can benefit from high-quality education systems within Portugal and throughout EU countries, fostering an environment conducive to their development and future endeavors.

The simplicity of the process and inclusive nature of the Golden Visa program reflect Portugal’s commitment to attracting foreign investment and offering a stable and attractive residency option for non-EU investors and their families.

Family with Portuguese Citizenship

 

Living in Portugal

Portugal offers a high quality of life, excellent healthcare and education systems, and a growing economic environment that appeals to citizens, non-EU citizens, including US and UK citizens, who are considering residency or naturalization.

Quality of Life

Portugal ranks highly in terms of quality of life. The country provides a safe, laid-back environment with a relatively low cost of living compared to many other Western European countries. Portugal’s Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) tax regime is an attractive policy for those looking to move, especially for retirees and workers in high-value industries. The climate is mild and conducive to outdoor activities year-round, enriching residents’ lifestyle.

Healthcare and Education

The healthcare system in Portugal is comprehensive and accessible, with a mix of public and private services available. Residents often cite high satisfaction with healthcare services, which include routine check-ups, emergency care, and specialized treatments. Education in Portugal is also notable, with free public schools available to residents, and a range of private and international schools providing education in various languages.

Economic Environment

Portugal’s economy is diversified and integrated within the European Union market. For those looking to work or establish a business, local markets are open and welcoming to innovation and investment. The country’s Golden Visa program is indicative of its positive stance towards attracting non-EU investors and has been a factor in stimulating the Portuguese economy. The Golden Visa also offers a pathway to Portuguese citizenship for those who wish to live and contribute to the nation on a long-term basis.

Financial Considerations

When evaluating the Portugal Golden Visa, investors need to carefully consider the financial implications, including taxation and the prospective return on their investments. Understanding the fiscal responsibilities and the efficiency of the capital allocation is crucial in maximizing the benefits of this residency program.

Taxation and Non-Habitual Resident Status

Investors should be aware that Portugal offers a Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) tax regime, which can provide significant tax benefits for a period of ten years. Under the NHR, foreign income – including pensions, dividends, and royalties – can potentially be tax-exempt. However, for income generated within Portugal, a flat income tax rate of 20% is typically applied to certain types of income derived from high value-added activities.

Key Points:

  • NHR status potentially allows for a favorable tax treatment on foreign-sourced income for up to ten years.
  • Income from high value-added activities sourced within Portugal taxed at a flat rate of 20% under the NHR.

Investment Analysis

Investors participating in the Golden Visa program traditionally had the option to invest in real estate to qualify. However, since property investment for the visa ended in October 2023, alternate forms of investment, such as venture capital funds, private equity, and investment funds, have come to the forefront. The minimum investment amount required for such financial investments is €500,000, whose maturity is at least five years, and which invests at least 60% of its capital in companies with a Portuguese head office.

Investment Funds:

  • Venture Capital Funds: Focused on startups and emerging companies, usually at a higher risk but potential for substantial returns.
  • Private Equity Funds: Generally invest in established companies, offering stability and steady growth.

Key Points:

  • A minimum of €500,000 in qualifying funds is required.
  • Investments must be maintained for a minimum period of five years.
  • 60% of the investment must be in Portuguese ventures.

Investors need to analyze the expected yield from these investment vehicles alongside the associated risks and management fees. They often weigh the merits of capital appreciation against income yields from these funds. The decision should align with their financial goals, weighing the potential returns with the imperative of fulfilling the Golden Visa’s investment activity stipulations.

Post-Residency and Citizenship

The Portugal Golden Visa program offers investors the possibility of permanent residency and citizenship after an initial period of five years. Here, the focus shifts from obtaining to maintaining residency and then to the nuances of applying for Portuguese citizenship.

Permanent Residency after Five Years

Golden Visa applicants may be eligible for permanent residency after five years of legal residence in Portugal. During this period, they must maintain their investment and fulfill the minimum stay requirements. Permanent residency grants individuals the right to work, live, and study in Portugal, as well as enjoy visa-free travel within the Schengen Area.

To be eligible for permanent residency, applicants must:

  • Demonstrate ties to Portugal (e.g., investment, family, employment)
  • Show basic proficiency in the Portuguese language
  • Have a clean criminal record

Portuguese Citizenship Application

After five years as a legal resident, a Golden Visa holder may apply for Portuguese citizenship. The nationality law stipulates that the applicant must have a clear criminal record, sufficient knowledge of the Portuguese language, and demonstrate ties to the national community.

A successful citizenship application results in:

  • The right to an EU passport which allows the freedom to live, work, and travel across the EU
  • Citizenship rights extended to family members and future generations

The process involves:

  1. Submitting an application to the Portuguese Registry office
  2. Providing proof of sustained investment
  3. Demonstrating basic proficiency in Portuguese
  4. Submitting a personal statement detailing ties to Portugal

Becoming a Portuguese citizen not only formalizes the applicant’s bond with the country but also marks the culmination of a successful Golden Visa journey, offering a new spectrum of economic, cultural, and political opportunities.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, you will find precise answers to the most common inquiries about the Portugal Golden Visa as of 2024.

How long does it take to process a Portugal Golden Visa?

The processing time for a Portugal Golden Visa can vary but typically takes around 10-14 months. The exact duration is determined by the current workload of the Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF), the immigration service of Portugal.

What benefits are offered by the Portugal Golden Visa program?

Holders of the Portugal Golden Visa benefit from the right to live in Portugal, access to Schengen Area countries without the need for additional visas, and eligibility for Portuguese citizenship after five years, conditional on meeting certain requirements including maintaining the investment and staying in Portugal for an average of 7 days per year.

What are the steps for renewing a Portugal Golden Visa?

The Portugal Golden Visa can be renewed every two years. Applicants must ensure that their investment is maintained and provide proof of the required minimum stay in Portugal, among other documentation requested by SEF.

Can you obtain citizenship through the Portugal Golden Visa, and if so, what is the timeline?

Yes, it is possible to obtain Portuguese citizenship through the Golden Visa program. Applicants must hold their investment for a minimum of five years and fulfill the physical presence requirements. They can then apply for citizenship, subject to meeting other legal conditions.

How can one move to Portugal and gain residency in 2024?

To move to Portugal and gain residency in 2024, individuals can opt for the Golden Visa by making a qualifying investment. Another option is the HQA visa for those who qualify or the D7 visa for those who don’t mind long stay requirements.

 

Need help?

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.

GET PERSONALIZED GUIDANCE

During our call, we will:

Here is what to expect from a call with our advisory team:

1

We’ll answer your questions about the program and the application process, providing you with the clarity you need.

2

We’ll break down each stage of the immigration process, ensuring you know exactly what to expect.

3

We’ll help you determine if the chosen program is the right fit for you or suggest alternatives that may better align with your goals.

4

Gain access to our network of recommended local lawyers, as well as providers of eligible investment options.