New rules for Portugal’s Golden Visa programme

Parliament enacts ‘More Housing bill’ and implements new eligibility rules for Portugal’s Golden Visa programme.

Portugal’s Golden Visa, known for its allure to foreign investors seeking residency, has undergone recent changes that you should know about. While the landscape has shifted, it’s important to understand the nuances and continued opportunities this Programme offers.

The Portuguese President has enacted the “More Housing” bill which confirmed the end of real estate investment as an eligible investment option for Portugal’s Residence Permit for Investment Activity (ARI) programme, the country’s Residence by Investment (RBI) programme, more commonly referred to as the Portuguese Golden Visa. The new law will come into effect the day after the law is published in the official journey.

Up until the introduction of the “More Housing” bill, applicants for the Portuguese Golden Visa chose the most popular investment route which was through investments in real estate starting at €280,000.

However, the Programme’s core concept remains intact: attracting foreign investors to boost the Portuguese economy.

For years, Portugal’s Golden Visa programme has attracted investors, bringing in millions of euros in annual investment.

Portugal, a land of rich history and captivating landscapes, has always been a sought-after destination for travellers.

Beyond vacations, the Programme has allowed non-EU citizens to call this beautiful country home.

Presidential Hurdles and Legislative Resilience

President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa initially rejected the ”More Housing” bill, which the Portuguese Parliament passed on 19 July 2023, sending the bill back to Parliament for amendments.

But on 26 September 2023, the bill was reconfirmed during a second and final vote in Parliament, without any modifications. Accordingly, the President announced on 30 September 2023, that he had promulgated the “More Housing” bill.

Existing filed applications are not affected, offering reassurance to investors.

However, a significant change is coming. Real estate investments will no longer qualify as an investment route for the Golden Visa programme, as Portugal addresses housing concerns.

With real estate investments no longer an option, market observers anticipate that the fund investment category will become the preferred route for most investors.

While the programme endures, potential investors must navigate these changes.

Renewal and Family Reunification

Requests for granting and renewing residence permits for investment activities remain valid, even as the law undergoes changes.

Furthermore, the exclusion of residence permits for family reunification from adoption limitations underscores Portugal’s commitment to facilitating family unity.

Opposition and Amendments

During the legislative process, opposition parties presented numerous amendment proposals, all of which were ultimately rejected.

This underscores the Government’s determination to maintain the essence of the Golden Visa programme.

The remaining open investment options for Golden Visa applicants, after new law comes into effect include:

  1. Creation of at least ten jobs;
  2. Transferring capital of €500,000 or more for research activities in scientific institution;
  3. Transferring capital of €250,000 or more for investment in artistic production, cultural heritage, and related activities;
  4. Transferring capital of €500,000 or more for acquiring shares in specific investment funds incorporated under Portuguese law;
  5. Transferring capital of €500,000 or more for incorporating a commercial company in Portugal, coupled with job creation or capital reinforcement in existing companies; and

For options 1, 2, and 3, minimum investment amount or quantitative requirement can be reduced by 20 per cent when investments are made in low-density territories or economically disadvantaged areas.

Importantly, the new law prohibits any form of direct or indirect real estate investment.

Portugal’s Resilient Appeal

Despite the modifications to the programme, Portugal continues to attract investors at a noteworthy rate.

In August 2023, the country issued 64 Golden Visas, with 42 of them related to real estate acquisitions.

These investments injected over €32.8 million into Portugal through its Golden Visa programme.

Steady Growth and Market Regulation

While August 2023 figures showed a slight decrease compared to the previous year, the overall trend is one of growth.

From January to August 2023, the Golden Visa program brought in €493 million to Portugal, representing a 24 per cent increase from the same period in the previous year.

This programme remains integral to Portugal’s efforts to address housing challenges and regulate the real estate market.

Why Portugal is a Top Choice for Residency by Investment

Portugal's Golden Visa 2

Portugal offers more than just residency; it’s a lifestyle.

Golden Visa holders experience the warmth of its culture, delicious cuisine, and a relaxed way of life.

From Lisbon’s vibrant streets to the Algarve’s tranquil beaches, every region offers a unique living experience.

Historic Cities: A Journey Back in Time

Lisbon: A blend of modernity and history, offering cosmopolitan living and cultural richness.

Porto: Known for its wine and charm, with a vibrant cultural scene and historic architecture.

Sintra: A UNESCO World Heritage site, promising a tranquil escape with palaces and castles.

Secluded Portuguese Beaches

The Algarve: Europe’s sunniest spot, boasting golden beaches and year-round resort-like living.

Comporta: A luxury traveller’s secret, offering pristine beaches and a laid-back atmosphere.

Azores and Madeira: Untouched island paradises with volcanic landscapes and lush forests.

Luxury Living with the Golden Visa

The programme has provided access to luxury living in Portugal. Upscale resorts and boutique hotels have welcomed investors.

However, with real estate investment no longer an option, alternative investment routes include funds investment structures, share capital in existing companies and job creation.

The Future of the Golden Visa Program

While real estate investment directly or indirectly is no longer an option, the program remains open, with funds investment expected become the new preferred qualifying route. Restructuring ensures its continuity with different investment criteria.