Despite an inauspicious start in 2009, the “NHR” programme has gained relevance, attracting thousands EU “tax refugees” to Portugal. Since 2014, new applicants have increased by 1400%. Between September of 2018 and March of this year, the number of new non-habitual residents rose by over 26%. Brazilians recorded the most significant jump with a gain of 52%, surpassing the Swedes. Citizens who qualify for “NHR” status pay “IRS” at a flat rate of 20% when they are linked to high added-value activities in Portugal. However, this group of targeted professionals accounted for just 7% of total applicants. Most are pensioners, seeking a 10-year tax holiday on their retirement benefits. In 2017, new “NHR” retirees numbered almost 10,000.
Chinese investment in Golden Visas fell by 24% between January and August year-on-year to €194.3 million. During the same period, Turkish investments more than doubled to €69.4 million. Brazilians accounted for €86.7 million, 41.8% less than a year earlier. South Africa declined 47% to €22.8 million while Russia also fell to €20.3 million, a reduction of 202%. In cumulative terms, Golden Visas have yielded almost four billion Euros since inception, mostly in real estate.
Between 2008 and 2016, more than 220,000 foreign nations chose to become Portuguese citizens. Brazilians submitted the most requests. In 2016, Portugal granted nationality to 29,351 foreigners, a record since 1996, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics.
Between October 2012 and May 2017, the total investments raised by the Investment Activity Residency programme reached € 3.1 billion. Of this amount, €2.8 billion (90%) was secured through real estate purchases. During the period, China leads the list of Golden Visas awarded with 3,411 as of May this year, followed by Brazil (411), South Africa (189), Russia (174) and Lebanon (100).
More than four thousand “Golden Visas” have been issued to non-EU nationals according to “SEF” (Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service). The Chinese and Brazilians are the principal nationalities obtaining the Residence Permit for Investment Activity (“ARI”) since the creation of this immigration vehicle in 2012.