Portugal Golden Visa is a scam - endless waits, misleading information and outright lies

US citizen here. Applied in Dec 2021 to establish an eventual home base, and as a safety net for eventualities in the US. At the time, PGV investment until citizenship looked like seven years. Now, with the influx of Ukrainian refugees and better information, the timeline looks like ten years. Pre-approval still appears very far off – will be lucky if it comes before the end of this year.

Even after pre-approval, since it is clear we cannot trust SEF to timely renew us, until the final renewal is finished, it makes no sense to move to Portugal, as we could become trapped like the others on this thread (my sympathies to you all).

In the meantime, the possible authoritarian takeover timeline in the US has been shortened, and probability has been significantly increased. If that happens, would expect to see passport issuance and renewals for ordinary citizens curtailed or eliminated as in other authoritarian nations (e.g. China until the early 2000s, and China again now).

In hindsight, we would have been better off using the money for PGV to buy other, lower-value citizenships with shorter processing timelines. The more chaotic world events become, the longer every program’s processing timelines will be delayed.

For potential investors, even if you are not US citizens, please spare yourself the suffering – don’t do PGV. There has to be a better way.


A US citizen shouldn’t have an issue, because you still fall under visa waiver. Since you’re still traveling on your US passport, you’ll still clear schengen fine one way or the other - you won’t be trapped per se. It might be inconvenient but you won’t be trapped. I certainly wouldn’t be that concerned about it if it were me. Annoyed, inconvenienced (since if I get stamped then I will need to stop at a SEF border crossing to reverse the stamp), but not concerned.

The others, to my understanding, are not US citizens and so have issues with Schengen border crossing.

The value of those purchaseable passports concerns me. Everyone knows they’re bought, basically, at what point do countries start rejecting them? EU isn’t far from it. Though I suppose they are a $100k “valid travel document” if what you are looking for is a document that lets you travel from one country of residence to another. But if you want that freedom, you probably want to create a mesh of residencies, not count on the visa-waiver aspect of your travel document.

Your point certainly stands though, PGV at this point is problematic for anyone who started the process too late. Of course, they always say that you need to arrange Plan B well before you need it, because you can’t count on being able to do it when you need it. But if you just want EU residency, there’s certainly other speedier options. Get the Greek one and pair it with a Caribbean CBI, you end up around the same cost as PGV or Spain. You’ll never become a Greek citizen but you don’t necessarily care about that.

And for what it’s worth, merely holding a valid residence permit is sufficient for entry to Portugal through any Schengen border point, whether or not you have a valid passport. It’s a specific explicit carve-out in the Schengen Borders Code, Article 6 sec 5(a). You might have an issue getting an airline to let you on the plane due to an invalid passport but you could always take a boat or something.

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Our original end goal was EU citizenship to be able to live anywhere in Europe, which is why we did PGV. Of course, this decision was taken before Russia invaded Ukraine, when the US was in disarray but Europe appeared from the outside to be relatively stable.

Now, Europe is also in disarray, and the odds that Portugal continues to honor the program for the next ten years look no better than a coin flip. Economic downturn is coming, and this should be the moment where Portugal leans into PGV to attract more investment to survive the recession or worse; instead, the state is shredding its credibility in the eyes of investors right at the critical moment. Even if we moved to Portugal and could somehow find a way to avoid being trapped due to PGV renewal delays under current circumstances, the fact the state forced the residence permits of any lawful and compliant PGV investor into expiration is evidence of its lack of commitment and trustworthiness. On such shaky footing even now, how can you trust that PGV becomes more reliable even when external or internal circumstances get worse?

Would have been better off if we had kept the PGV money in our pocket to invest in virtually any other plan.

I would recommend considering a CBI program at another location in a South of Europe as an alternative or even as a parallel activity… Especially if you are a US citizen with all the current risks… Timelines are compressed beyond belief in contrast to PT GV… Citizenship acquired approx. 7 months after investment…

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It’s always a gamble whatever country you pick. You’re dealing with sovereign governments who have their own imperatives. Those imperatives change over time. As such, the rules can too. There’s nothing stopping the Portuguese government - or indeed any other government - from moving the goalposts on you at some point down the road if that’s what makes sense for it to do, and you won’t have any recourse. I think this is one of those things you just have to accept when you get into these processes. We want to believe there is a defined contractually-bound process with a known outcome but there just isn’t.

Other places may look better at the moment. Of course things change and the places that look good now… can leave you disappointed 5 years from now, too.

It sounds like you should attempt to reclaim your investment and walk away. Sure that sucks but if you’re unhappy now… better to take your lumps and move on?

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No, not all of them for sure. I am currently on the last leg of a process to receive one, and I bet you would never know it was kinda ‘bought’ unless I tell you confidentially :slight_smile:


I think the issue is that e.g. certain Caribbean countries are well known for selling citizenship “cheaply” to a relatively large number of people, so it seems only a matter of time before EU etc strip their visa free access.

If you get a passport from a country that is more discrete about that - e.g. New Zealand isn’t known for selling passports, but supposedly billionaire Peter Thiel got a NZ passport thanks to a large “financial contribution” - probably the EU won’t strip New Zealanders of visa free access, because they know the price is much higher and the number of recipients much smaller.

Yes, exactly, that’s why I mentioned that not ALL CBIs are the same in terms of the perception of the passport being ‘bought’.

The point of posting here is not about me. I already invested in the funds, and it’s too late to take my money out without significant loss. But it’s not to late to help others.

As for every country having risks, yes, this is true. The longer the process in any country, the greater the chance for the situation to worsen in any given country. Thus, would suggest that unless someone is fixated on living in a particular country, that it would be more advantageous to choose a country with a shorter process as tommigun suggested.

In Portugal’s case, the risks have already been realized, and the trend is worsening. The Portuguese government has chosen to do nothing to resolve this situation or to help stranded and disadvantaged PGVers, and as many other commenters have mentioned, the public doesn’t care, so suing SEF likely wouldn’t make a difference either.

The only thing that might make a difference is if people stop investing in PGV, and the domestic beneficiaries of PGV’s investment lose their golden goose as a result. So in addition to helping others, that is what I hope to contribute to accomplishing by posting.

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I agree with you.

I deplore how all of this has been packaged as some sort of easy-button “get a passport in 5 years, just give us money” thing by some fair chunk of the industry that’s sprung up around it. Even without the SEF delays, it never was and still isn’t. There’s no guaranteed passport on the other side of the rainbow, there’s just the chance at it. I think it’s going to end up in tears and crushed expectations for quite a number of people, that in the next few years the citizenship regs will get changed again and the “ties” thing is going to come back with a vengeance. But that’s how the world often rolls…

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A very good reason to spend more than the required time in PT and make some friends :slight_smile:


At a fundamental level I disagree with this. There are core concepts of human rights and rule of law that exist in Portugal. It would be greatly unfair to lead someone on for 4 years and have them invest in the country and learn the language, and the pull the rug out. The “ties” concept is already there with the requirement to learn the language. That is no easy accomplishment. You may be correct that the government will want to weed out people who have the most minimal of interactions with Portugal and who have no intention of benefiting the country, and probably those people will be weeded out. Of course, anything is possible and the government can change the laws virtually at will but I would expect some pushback on that from those who want to make Portugal a future home and help improve the country. Think about all the economic migrants that Portugal welcomes into the country and promises future citizenship. ARI applicants in many ways are in the same position of bringing something of value (in this case money instead of labor) to Portugal and becoming part of the society.

Edit: It is important to put this all into perspective. Here is my estimate of applicants for various Portugal visa program in the last 12 months:
-Asylum applicants (e.g., Ukraine) 40,000
-Economic migrants 10,000
-D7 Applicants 10,000
-ARI applicants 3,000
Each group of applicants brings something unique to Portugal. I would not expect citizenship rules for ARI applicants to change any more than for any other type of applicant. I do think the chances of the ARI program itself changing over the next few years for new applicants is good, but that is a totally different discussion.


Agree in principle. If the Portuguese state were still operating within the law, if SEF were renewing PGVs on time instead of letting them expire and stranding people, even if the state were taking clear and decisive action to resolve the ongoing issues, then this would be plausible.

But how can anyone justify moving their family to Portgual to make the necessary “ties” when the state isn’t even making a good-faith effort to honor its end of the deal?


A very good point. Also GV investors are not supposed to move to the country. If they want to do that then there are other options. GV is expensive for the exact reason that investors do not have to develop strong “ties.” If in the future the GV investors are asked to show strong ties in order to get permanent residency or citizenship, then it is a scam for sure.

Source for your statement?

Are you saying GV investors should not move until the issuance of the temporary residence card?

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Vichy may mean “GV investors are not supposed to need to move to the country”.


Thank you for the clarification!