Portugal Golden Visa - The New Law of 2023

One thing I am still struggling to understand. According to the government (and also International Living magazine), the Golden visa is the cause of housing prices skyrocketing in Portugal. As a golden visa applicant myself (albeit in an investment fund), for a few days I felt some guilt over possible contribution to this situation. But then something happened. I started to think independently and did a bit of research. Golden visas have been in place since 2012 at relatively stable numbers. Yet, something interesting can be found in the numbers provided by SEF. Aside from a bump in 2020, the number of approved Golden Visas have steadily gone DOWN since 2014. Add to this the fact that since 2020 when Americans starting applying in larger numbers, the percentage of transactions involving residential real estate acquisitions has gone DOWN and investment fund purchases have gone up. It doesn’t take a lot of mental power to determine that if golden visa didn’t unilaterally cause real estate to skyrocket in 2016, it is very unlikely, or more correctly impossible, that it is the cause of this problem in 2023. Even assuming that 2023 golden visa numbers increase significantly, its improbable that it would even register in a city of 3,000,000 people.

A view of the data:

Year Residency Permits Granted
2014 1526
2015 766
2016 1414
2017 1351
2018 1409
2019 1245
2020 2043
2021 865
2022 1281

Source: SEF: https://www.sef.pt/pt/pages/conteudo-detalhe.aspx?nID=93

No one en masse was blaming the golden visa for housing shortages in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016 or even 2019. While affordable housing is always a problem in any economic environment and we need to always be sensitive to this universal human need, context and facts are important. Let’s stop turning groups of people into villains for the sake of political expediency.

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Yeah given the other EU countries ending GV at the same time, I’m pretty sure this is a top-down directive from EU central to end the GV.

Tying it to housing is just a convenient scapegoat.

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In the EU (and Portugal) if the reason for naturalization is not jus soli / jus sanguinis, it is an EU requirement to have at least 5 years of physical presence in the country plus knowledge of the language and a clear criminal record. ARI/GV has been exceptional in enabling the residence requirement to be met without heavy physical presence requirements - for those who cannot reside.
Although, as GV applicants, we do not like being caught in the cross-fire, the country has many positives and is highly sought after (here). Most Portuguese citizenship applications are not based on GV (some statistics here).
Like some others, the period of confinement/lockdown reminded me of the city, country and language that I fell in love with, before it became so popular.

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They created this program in 2012 to help revive the economy and real estate troubles at that time, over the years, it has contributed to the economy and real estate, and now Portugal does not need it anymore, as the PM said, it has served its purpose.

However, I do agrees with others if the government wants to solve housing crisis, they can change GV program to fund new housing and rehabilitate instead of killing it completely.

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Most law firms / consultancy firms do not list IMGA or BPI Portual open ended funds for their clients. I guess because they don’t get commissions from the funds?

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A new document was published yesterday with slightly more details. Here’s what it has to say about the Golden Visa:


ENDING GOLD VISAS

OBJECTIVE

To end the Gold Visa regime.

HOW IT WORKS

  • No new Gold Visas may be issued.
  • In the case of renewing those already granted, every two years, the
  • only occurs if
    • i. the property is allocated as the owner’s or descendant’s own and permanent residence;
    • ii. it is subject to a rental contract for own and permanent residence for a period of not less than 5 years.

With the new legal regime for the entry, stay, exit and removal of foreigners from the national territory, the granting of visas for special purposes is still possible, and must follow these legal procedures.


It also states that the hearing is open until March 10 and you can submit your comments via the link above.

Here’s a version of the document translated to English using DeepL:

MaisHabitacao_ConsultaPublica vf en-US.pdf (894.2 KB)

EDIT: There’s also a Q&A document available on this page.

It doesn’t have much more detail than what was stated during the presentation. The relevant section translated:


END OF GOLD VISAS

THE STATE STOPS GRANTING GOLD VISAS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY? FOR ANY INVESTMENT?

Yes, the legal regime of residence permits for investment is revoked throughout the country.

CAN THOSE WHO ALREADY HAVE A GOLD VISA RENEW IT?

Yes, if they prove that

  • (a) the property is allocated to the owner’s own and permanent residence or that of his/her descendant;

or

  • b) if it is the object of a rental contract for own and
    own and permanent residence

WHAT IF IT IS A GOLD VISA FOR INVESTMENT, SUCH AS CULTURAL PATRONAGE?

With the new legal regime for the entry, stay, exit and removal of foreigners from the national territory, the granting of visas for special purposes such as investment is still possible, and must follow these legal procedures.


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“No new Gold Visas may be issued” seems to indicate that those who have already applied would have their applications canceled; as the only exemptions explicitly mentioned are those who already have the visa. Still, opinion seems mixed, would have liked to see this clearly addressed in the Q&A.

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I wonder what will happen to people like me who moved to Portugal after applying for a GV ( fulfilling all conditions) and having lived here for over a year legally will not get a visa after all… we have a legal right in the EU to a Family Life
Will the Border Police physically throw us out?
Will there be an amnesty until we leave voluntarily?

I know we need to wait to see the actual law but it’s frustrating :man_shrugging:t4:

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I wouldn’t take that literally. The Portuguese legal system doesn’t work that way. The law in effect when you submit your application is what it’ll be judged on.

Plus, everything about this announcement has been super sloppy, so even more reason to not take these things literally. See it more as a marketing document.

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So TK, what do you think “own and permanent residence” means please ? Is it “permanent” in the sense that its address is on your NIF and the Residency card, and that you need to spend more than 183 days in PT, and that you don’t have a permanent address in another country ?

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I’m no expert on this, but googling the Portuguese phrasing “residência própria e permanente”, you’ll find some articles explaining the term:

Roughly it seems to correspond to your main tax residence, but there’s some nuance there, so I’d recommend reading these articles for a better idea.

Note that you can be considered a tax resident in Portugal without spending 183+ days per year according to their domestic rules (if you have a “habitual” dwelling there at any point in the year). No idea if that would fly in terms of renewals if you claim residence in another country in accordance with a tax treaty, but for all I know it could be.

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Understood, and that has been my (and my lawyers’) assumption thus far too; though it’s curious they would go to the length of doing a Q&A, explicitly single out already granted visas, without addressing this obvious thing. But I agree it may just as well be an oversight, clearly this announcement was rushed and sloppy as you say. Hope to see more clarity in the coming days.

The other concern is, assuming they grandfather in the final few applications - how long will they draw it out for, given now there’s even less motivation to fix a very delayed process?

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Hi there, I do have the same question about the “rent to own” phrase in the document. My family and I submitted our GV application last june 2022 and we have acquired a commercial property, the property being used as a supermarket by a company and have a long lease ending on 2040. I am unsure whether we are going to be affected by this. However, my lawyer’s opinion is that since we have applied already before the new law took effect, the chances are we will not be affected by this. Hopefully, some clarifications will come up in the coming weeks when they discuss the law extensively.

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A lot of unclear things here:

  • No new GV will be granted: My son and I (main applicant) have got cards in hand. However, other family members have been waiting still. Then, for those are still waiting, they will not be granted GV ?
  • The condition to renew the GV seems to be quite absurd for those have invested in different routes like Funds, Capital deposit (lots of GV holders using this route), or Donation in artistic project. Personally, I went under Fund route. That means right now I do not live under my own property in PT. Hence, I will not be able to renew GV…

Hope things will be cleared in next few months.

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I don’t think there’s any way they can or would include this renewal requirement for commercial real estate which isn’t even approved for habitation. Probably they are referring to residential real estate (and I guess also properties with AL licenses), not supermarkets and hotels.

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See above:

They were already clear that this proposed renewal requirement only applies to investors owning properties. And even though it hasn’t been specified I assume they only mean properties approved for residential purposes (I don’t see how else they could make it a requirement).

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Thanks for the Pordata link - new to me and very interesting !

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“You call some place paradise, kiss it goodbye…” (G Frey, D Henley 1976)

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Thank you very much Thomas! That’s a bit of a relief. Hopefully the final draft of the law will be softened after the discussion with stakeholders. :crossed_fingers:t3:Also just some thoughts, passing a law with retroactive effects feels unconstitutional.

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Thanks! I find the 5 year minimum lease term to be new information to me, and very problematic. Not insurmountable, but problematic.

Among other things (including all the retroactivity issues discussed), I currently have a 3 year lease on my rental property. Assuming I get full approval soon, I will not be able to renew, under this regime, because my 3 year lease will have not expired yet or been changed to a 5 year term.

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