Can Americans Use IRA Account to Invest for Portugal Golden Visa?

U.S. citizen here, very interested in Portugal’s ‘Golden Visa’ by investment program. I have a SEP-IRA account (Self-Employed). Here’s my plan:

  1. Roll SEP-IRA to Self-Directed IRA
  2. Invest the Self-Directed IRA into the 350,000e investment fund option
  3. Leave it there until we achieve Portuguese citizenship

I foresee two things I need to verify:

  1. from the American side, I need to make sure investing in a Portuguese investment fund isn’t a prohibited transaction that would cancel my IRA’s tax-sheltered status.
  2. from the Portuguese side, I need to ensure that, even though the investment will be made by my self-directed IRA… that the investment will be linked to me personally and qualify me and my family for the visa, and eventually citizenship.

Has anyone heard of this before? I think it should work but know of no precedent. Would be so grateful for any insight. I plan to reach out to an ERISA lawyer in USA and an immigration lawyer in Portugal so would appreciate any referrals as well.


Unless the IRA will let you transfer the funds (€350,000) and fund units to a Portuguese bank account in your name (both requirements for getting the GV) I don’t think that would work, unfortunately.


I know IRA funds can be transferred to a Portuguese Bank. The name of my IRA account now is my name with “SEP-IRA” at the end. So, after rolling to a self-directed IRA, it would be my name with “SD-IRA” at the end.

So… I dunno. Seems having the “SD-IRA” after my name shouldn’t disqualify me… but maybe it does. Thanks for the response!

If the IRA itself can be transferred there might be hope, but as you suggest this is probably uncharted territory.

Your best bet would be to get a legal opinion by a lawyer, check if you can find a Portuguese bank that seems OK with this idea and will let you buy fund units with your IRA, and then try to find an investment fund that will let you invest on the condition that your Golden Visa is actually granted (meaning they will buy back the units if your application is denied).