End of all Golden Visas

The EU Parliament continues to push for the end of all Golden Visas within the EU. Even though, GV programs are not EU residency programs, i.e. they are National Visas within the the national territory of Portugal, which happens to be an EU Member State. If the program is to be phased out or imposed with physical residence requirements, how likely is it that they will legislate this in Portugal, is this something we should be concerned about?

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Current events stoke fears. More nuanced reporting from EU Parliament Press release: MEPs demand a ban on ‘golden passports’ and specific rules for ‘golden visas’ | News | European Parliament
Malta, Bulgaria, and Cyprus - offer passport/citizenship for investment.
Estonia, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Luxemburg, Holland, Portugal and Spain offer residence visas for investment.
The vote seeks a ban on “golden passports” ie purchase of citizenship and more stringent, and consistent guidelines for “golden visas” – including stricter background checks (on applicants and fund sources), mandatory checks against EU databases, and vetting procedures in third countries, reporting obligations for member states, objection procedures, minimum physical residence (for applicants) and active involvement, quality, added value, and contribution to the economy (for investments).
The next step is for the EU Parliament to present a legislative proposal or justify its decision not to do so before the conclusion of its current mandate.
See also IAS: IAS Information Note on the European Parliament - draft legislative initiative on Golden Visa Programs


Yes, most articles seem rather… sensationalistic? Though this is the norm I suppose.

What’s amazing to me is how loose some of the other programs are, or must be. At least two don’t make you show up in the country ever. Of course neither viably leads to citizenship either, but still and all. The implication that background checks are lax… is surprising, and you can’t blame some countries for getting annoyed that other countries aren’t doing basic checks given that they’re all responsible for each other’s perimeter.

There’s an implication in there that one can actually qualify for the EU long term residence permit through GV, which was an item discussed here a while back with a sorta-conclusion that it probably didn’t work that way.

It was also interesting to see how they even felt a need to clarify the issue of CBI vs RBI and needing to draw distinctions between the two because people are jumbling it all together in their heads.

I imagine some of the items will make it into a proposal and some won’t - CBI is probably going to get killed since it’s heading that direction already, and there will be some additional restrictions on RBI but not the full whack; compromise as always.

What I am interested in is whether they are going to attempt to do something ex-post-facto to existing permits, or whether they can change the terms of renewals for someone that’s already had a permit issued. Obviously there’s always some avenue for revoking a visa or passport but it’s generally case by case by the executive, not “en masse” through legislation.


What’s CBI vs RBI?

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Exactly, the difference between a GV and D7 is physical residence.

Mercan sent out an email with their thoughts on this issue. Here’s what they said in relevant part:

The legislative initiative was discussed in the plenary at the beginning of this week, and it sets a distinction between the two programs – golden visa and golden passports-, calling for action against the citizenship by investment visas – “golden passports”.

The parliamentarians argue that investment citizenship, known as “golden passports”, under which third-country nationals obtain citizenship rights in exchange for financial investment, “compromise the essence of EU citizenship”, mentioned the MEPs, alluding to the programs that still exist in Bulgaria, Malta, and Cyprus.

This legislative initiative report also calls for the creation of common rules at the EU level to harmonize the procedures relating to golden visas, which refer to a residence by investment as operated by Mercan Properties.

Specifically, for MEPs, before countries grant golden visas, they must carry out a rigorous background check of applicants (including their family members and sources of financial funds), create information reporting obligations and require minimum physical presence requirements and active participation, quality, added value and contribute to the economy, which corresponds exactly to our current program in Portugal.

The parliamentarians asked the European Commission to present, before the end of its current mandate, a legislative proposal related to all actions mentioned above. According to the European Parliament rules, even if approved, it will not automatically become law nor will force the European Commission or the European Council to advance with legislation.

We believe that the current legislative initiative will not have an impact on our current operations, namely in what is related to the residency permit obtained by the investment in the acquisition and rehabilitation of properties for commercial purposes.

That seems just a bit cheery versus what I read from the parliamentary report.

Mercan hardly counts as active participation by the visa holder. I suspect they are thinking more along the lines of the investor visas like Germany has (or one of the programs Portugal has, which I would have gladly done if it were a viable option) where you start/buy and operate a business that creates jobs.

I just expect that that is going to be one of the items that gets compromised on. There’s way more obvious things like “buy government bonds” and “make donations” and “buying real estate” that are big flaming targets. (I realize that buying real estate need not be passive but it often is, and it’s often perceived as a market-distorter - whether it is or not is not the point here; perceptions matter. Funds are at least being managed by locals, and mercan-likes definitely create jobs both in the building and the resultant operations, so whether the investor is active, the money is more active within the economy.)

Common rules for background checks and some basic physical presence and the like seem like obvious targets for compromise and I suspect a lot of MEPs will be happy to get those. I realize the physical presence thing may upset some people but I also get the desire for the ask for Some Amount Of Giving A Damn About My Country, making the entire thing less transactional.

The world is changing. Globalization is dead, as is money / business / profits as the primary motivator. It’s been heading this way for a while, and it’s here. We don’t have to like it.

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I’m skeptical that globalization is dead, but the rest of your post sounds about right

More time required in country is a reasonable ask. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a month or more a year. Hopefully not gating it to six months though, that’s asking a lot for people that travel a lot

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The GV program exists as a separate category with a lower residence requirement because it comes at a much higher cost than D7. If applicants simply want to live in Portugal, they automatically satisfy the physical residence requirement under the D7 program, which is also much cheaper. Amending the program to balance the cost/residence requirement rests with the Portuguese bureaucracy. Perhaps they’ll come up with a new program.


Citizenship by Investment v. Residency by Investment.


The EU Commission has issued this today: “Commission urges Member States to act on ‘golden passports’ and ‘golden residence permits’ schemes, and to take immediate steps in the context of the Russian invasion of Ukraine”


Who knows what will happen. I think you can’t worry over what you can’t control. There are billions of dollars invested in the Portugal economy through RBI (not CBI). If this were to end and existing applicants removed from the program it would cause a large schism to the economy Imagine people pulling their money and investments and going to another country where they are treated best. 99% of the people applying for the golden visa I suspect are good, honest people. There are many people who migrate to Portugal illegally (or legally in some cases) who present a much larger risk. Let’s focus on helping to strengthen and build the Portuguese society and economy.


Indeed, we’ll see how it pans out. My own application is “approved in principle”, pre-biometrics. But if I were starting from scratch, I’d be minded to ensure that I could exit my investment quickly in case the rug gets pulled.

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Investor residence schemes, while different from citizenship schemes in the rights they grant, pose equally serious security risks to Member States and the EU as a whole. A valid residence permit gives a non-EU national the right to reside in the Member State in question, but also to travel freely in the Schengen area. While EU law regulates the entry conditions for certain categories of non-EU nationals, the granting of investor residence permits is not regulated at EU level and remains a national competence.


** Latvia’s ‘golden visa’ scheme to be scrapped**


It was very much used (abused?) by Russians since its inception, and was already in trouble for few years once the investment limits were raised. Although it was one of the most affordable and efficient in Europe, it was also less conducive to the eventual receipt of citizenship due to a long wait time (10 years) and language requirements (Latvian is one of more difficult ones in Europe). This decision should have come as no great surprise.

I doubt Portuguese will follow in their footsteps…


So are they curtailing investor residence schemes too? Technically, you can gain citizenship via residence practically in every country on earth, correct?

Residency is generally a prerequisite but rarely sufficient in and of itself.

I started the process but decided to bail on the Portugal GV. Luckily got some of the fees refunded from Mercan. Looking like a risky thing to do these days

Hi Jon how much did you get back from them? We are also thinking about dropping out but already paid the 5k lawyer fees…

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