Only Greece and Latvia have more advantageous Golden Visa schemes than Portugal, requiring an investment of just €250,000 for foreigners wishing to settle in their territories. Portugal has maintained the €500,000 threshold since the creation of the programme in 2012, which is technically referred to as “The Residence Permit for Investment Activity”.
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.
Golden Visa investment rose 34.6% in June over the previous 12 months to 52.8 million euros, but fell 18.8% in the first half of 2018, according to statistics from the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF). Since 2013, 10,793 Golden Visa residence permits have been allocated to wealthy migrant families: 576 in 2013, 2,395 in 2014, 1,322 in 2015, 2,344 in 2016, 2,678 in 2017 and 1,478 so far in 2018.
The Golden Visa Programme is a simple, alluring residency scheme aimed at attracting investors from around the world to Portugal. The qualifying conditions for the concession of Residency Permits of Investment Activity have been expanded, creating new opportunities. The recently passed up-dates take effect on 26 November and are part of a transposition of three EU directives, introducing new schemes for a) seasonal workers, b) transfer of migrant workers within a company or group, as well as c) a regime for the entry and stay of students, researchers, volunteers and trainees. Continue reading
In July, Portugal issued 98 Golden Visas, of which 96 were for real estate purchase and two meeting the capital transfer requirement. Since the creation of the programme, SEF (Immigration and Borders Service) has recorded 5,243 Golden Visa allocations: two in 2012, 494 in 2013, 1,526 in 2014, 766 in 2015, 1,414 in 2016 and 1,041 so far this year. China leads the list with 3,472 until July, followed by Brazil (432), South Africa (201), Russia (179) and Lebanon (103).
In May of 2017, only 81 requests were recorded for Golden Visas. Potential candidates complained of excessive delays in processing paperwork as compared with other countries with similar programs. Over the past 5 years, the plan has accounted for over 3 billion Euros in investments in Portuguese real estate investment.
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).
The Government plans to create a priority process within “SEF” (Immigration and Borders Service) to accelerate the granting of Golden Visas. Currently, many of these potential investments are going to Spain due to excessive delay in Portugal, where applications take as much as ten months for approval. So far this year, investments have already fallen by around 60%. In 2016, Spain attracted €1.1 billion as compared to €873 million in Portugal.
Innovation in the regulation of local lodging has made Portugal a case study. Short term holiday letting is an integral part of the current Portuguese tourism boom. Dilapidated heritage districts in Lisbon and Oporto have a new lease on life with private investment driving much needed restoration. As with any phenomenon of rapid and disorderly growth, distortions have emerged. But this should not be a pretext to kill the chicken that lays the golden egg.
The government has modified the criteria for granting ‘Golden Visas’, reducing the required outlay to €350,000 from €500,000 to be invested in small and medium-sized companies in order to obtain a permanent residence permit for non-EU nationals. This sum is less than that of real estate which, until now, have accounted for almost 99% of Golden Visa investments.