Over the past seven years, the state has brought in more than 167 million Euros with the issuance and renewal of Golden Visas. The fees charged by “SEF” (“Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras”) are the result of more than 19,000 visas issued and over 17,000 renewals, a retention rate of almost 90% of investors and households.
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 Immigration and Borders Services (“SEF”) will not be able to process new applications until November according to APEMIP (Associação dos Professionais e Empresas de Mediação Imobiliária de Portugal). “SEF” continues understaffed and overwhelmed with the backlog of existing requests.
The Immigration and Borders Service will authorise Golden Visa applicants wishing to make property investments in the Greater Lisbon region to submit their applications to offices outside the capital area as is currently required. The decentralisation move intends to reduce the current growing backlog of submissions.
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).
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.
Investments made through “Golden Visas” increased 85% in March to €192,000,000 when compared with the same period last year. Fresh capital imported into Portugal almost doubled over the previous month according to data from the Immigration and Borders Service (“SEF”).
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.
Since inception, Golden Visa investments have reached €3 billion according to data from the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF). The programme authorises non-EU citizens entry, residence and eventual nationality in Portugal in exchange for large financial investments or creation of jobs.
Lengthy delays in approving Golden Visas and their renewal are driving investors away from Portugal to other countries with similar programmes, in particular to Spain. Since the 2014 scandal that forced the resignation of high ranking officials, “SEF” (Borders and Immigration Service) has slowed to a snail’s pace the processing of Golden Visas.