Portugal Golden Visa - The New Law of 2023


  1. The draft legislation indicates that applications made after 16th Feb will be tossed out anyway. That may not hold, but anyone applying now should regard that as a very strong possibility. Maybe that date moves, but I’d want an approach that takes the shortest possible time and minimises walk-away costs

  2. The draft also seems to suggest that anything that avoids real estate can proceed as before for renewals, while restrictions on real estate will be introduced which still seem incoherent. While this conflicts with some comments made before the draft was published, it’s consistent with the objective of the legislation which is to fix the housing issues. So I’d avoid real estate.

If I was starting from here, I would hire a lawyer, make a fund investment (IMGA or BPI), put in an application asap (even if it lacked an apostille or two) and cross my fingers that the 16th Feb drop-dead date is moved. And if my application was thrown out, I just redeem the fund and move on.

Not a lawyer, this may all be wrong, take your own advice. But I’m with elle1


This is for housing units that have already not been used for at least a year, which may be identified by no use of utilities, cable/internet, etc. This is also the part of the proposals that have received the most criticism across the political spectrum in Portugal, with a significant likelihood of running into constitutionality issues as implemented in the draft.


Agree 100%!

At the risk of boring everyone with more press articles, here’s one in O Jornal Económico. Basically says that new limitations on renewals only apply to real estate investments.



I think that the proposed Feb 16th date, the fact that it will be one that is in retrospective, whilst the law remains unchanged (and the SEF portal is accepting applications) will very likely be unconstitutional. It’s like proposing a new law on a given date, say around speed limits (e.g. max speed limit on motorways of 120kmh down from 130kmh), and then fining everyone who had been driving at 130kmh retrospectively in the period from the proposal to the new law actually taking effect!

There will be legal challenges, if the draft becomes law as is. In my opinion, as many have said, it seems the Feb 16th date was published to prevent a flood of applications.


Yes that’s my take, too. Just see article 18 (3) of the Portuguese constitution:

(3). Laws that restrict rights, freedoms and guarantees must have a general and abstract nature and may not have a retroactive effect or reduce the extent or scope of the essential content of the constitutional precepts.


John, you may very well be right, and for sure there will be debate and presumably challenge about whether it’s constitutional.

Playing devil’s advocate, I suppose the government would argue that the preliminary application for a GV is legally insignificant - the event that matters is the final approval of the GV. In a sense, preliminary application is just notifying SEF that you’d like to be in the queue to make a formal application in due course, in person, in Portugal. The government would say there’s nothing retrospective here - they’re not cancelling approvals that have already been made - they’re just saying that to turn up in Portugal in a year or two’s time and sign all the forms, you need to have been on the bus by 16th Feb.

But I really don’t know. Hopefully parliament, the President or the constitutional court will force them to move the date. My only point was that I’d avoid being locked into anything lengthy or expensive, with so much uncertainty.


Very valid points Chris. Of course I mentioned that there will be legal challenges, but the outcome of the legal challenge is of course down to the judge(s) listening to the arguments!


One positive thing for the country of Portugal is that this proposal has prompted many people to make counter proposals , most of which are likely to be better or more targeted to the problem at hand (housing) than the original draft. I surmise that 90% of the people here want Portugal to thrive and succeed so first it is odd to vilify these people and second listen to what successful, intelligent people have to say instead of assuming your way is the only way. I truly hope we can improve the housing situation but it certainly will require some new ways of doing things


This has been an excellent discussion, and it’s been helpful to hear the many takes on what could happen - thank you for that to those who have contributed. Sometimes it’s encouraging; other times, it’s a bit devastating, depending on the opinion and viewpoint. Each of us is at a different stage, and I know it’s personal. If you were approved, you are primarily concerned about renewal. Or the flexibility you have with your property. If you are in the queue, you mostly want to know if your application will ultimately approve. If you still need to apply, you have decisions to make, but you can weigh the pros/cons.

There are some in our shoes as well. Perhaps the most tenuous of all.

We made our investment back in November. 280,000 Euros gone. It should go in officially in the next few days, we hope. Our application has taken months due to the usual issues (banks, apostilles, lawyers, bureaucracy)…

If the worst case happens, where does that leave us? Out the 280K, or at least probably never seeing it back or a return. No visa/residency. It’s the classic “rug pull” that we see and sometimes experience in the financial world. Will we see our funds returned by Portugal? Uh, no.

Hopefully, Portugal won’t be guilty of a financial rug pull. We bought in being sold something very clearly. Ideally, the rules stay the same after our money is gone, but its been a stressful few weeks. If I could go back? I’d never invested. Now we hope for the best outcome for us all. There are some in our shoes as well. Perhaps the most tenuous of all. We made our investment back in November. 280K Euros gone. Our application has taken months due to the usual issues (banks, apostilles, lawyers, bureaucracy)…

It might go in officially in the next few days. If the worst case happens where does that leave us? Out the 280K, or at least probably never seeing it back or a return. No visa/residency. It’s the classic “rug pull” that we see and sometimes experience in the financial world. Hopefully Portugal won’t be guilty of one. We bought in being sold something very clearly. Ideally the rules don’t get changed after our money is gone but its been a stressful few weeks. If I could go back? I’d never had made the investment. Now we just hope for the best outcome for us all - no matter where you are/were in the process. Good luck!


On the retroactivity point. It is relatively well settled in the US that the similar constitutional prohibition on ex post facto laws is dealt with by relating back to the date of the first public announcement of a proposal, but not further. The obvious response I can crib from what Stan Smith said to Howard Cosell on “Breakfast at Wimbledon” years ago, after Howard had gone on at some length about badminton rules: “But this is tennis, Howard.” So yes, Portugal, not the US.


Mark, I think you have the sympathy of everyone here. Fingers crossed it all works out.


Even if the visa does not work out, you’ll still own the 280K investment, which you can liquidate to get your money back. Or, you may have an agreement where you’d need to wait 5-6 years to invoke a buyback - but the investment is not down the drain just yet.

I feel the Feb 16th cutoff should at the very least extend to the date of investment, not submissions, but as others have pointed out it’s arguably unconstitutional either way.


And in (US) tax matters it seems changes to those laws can be applied to current tax year, which feels retroactive enough to me…


Before an application is filed, an investment has nothing to do with the GV, so I think applying the cutoff to investments might be hoping for too much!


I know - just my feeling! But hopefully all applications are accepted up to the day the new law is ratified.


Is March 16th the date for final decision or just for another round of votes?

I believe it’s when the council of ministers will decide on the proposal that will be brought to the parliament.


How does the rule change affect family unification? If someone already has the GV, then has a baby after the program is cancelled, is the baby entitled to the family dependent GV or not?

I believe the family reunification is technically a separate part of the legislation, but if “no new GVs may be issued” could this be interpreted as new GVs for family reunification too?


I think it would require one of the other political parties to table an amendment to this proposal - either moving the date to coincide with the commencement of the law or extending it to some other point in the future. It’s a fine point, and the question is whether that date (Feb 16) gets any scrutiny when there are bigger issues in the law that the Parliament will likely be focusing on. I’m wondering if the submissions from the public have this suggestion as an amendment at all? If not, is that something someone with fluency in Portuguese could submit as part of the public discussion?

The current party in power has a majority in Parliament, so in theory, the proposal as it stands can be voted through and sent to the President for his approval - legality and constitutional scrutiny not withstanding.

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