What's next after Portugal?

Now that Portugal and Ireland have closed their programs, and Spain may be next, what’s next for those of us seeking a backup plan or place to retire? Greece? Bulgaria? Turkey? Montenegro? East Caribbean? Vanuatu?

I have asked this question every time someone has told they that they are fed up with Portugal being slow; I have never received a response.

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On paper, Portugal was offering such a better deal, it was difficult to rationalize going for other programs. But now we need to pick up the pieces and take action based on what remains…

Costa Rica? Panama? Colombia? Ecuador? Thailand?

There’s still a lot of choices, it is just a matter of what it is you are hoping to achieve and how far you’re willing to commit. If you have the means for a GV, there are quite a number of countries that have quite a number of programs, and frankly, I don’t expect that to EVER change.

I have always felt like PT GV got equated with EU citizenship, that the “promise” of EU citizenship was always going to prove a bit chimerical, and that things that are too good to be true tend to either actually be too good to be true, or come to an end. So.

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Predicting a program will eventually end?! Ok Nostradamus!

You have hit the nail on the head, though. I imagine most people choose Portugal, or other EU countries, because citizenship allows you to live anywhere in the EU. A Thai visa means…you get to live in Thailand. Nice perhaps, but not comparable to the EU.

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We bought a house in Spain last year and were approved for the Spanish GV in 20 days. I think it’s a great option for those who were considering Portugal. To me, Spain feels a little more ‘developed’ and spacious than Portugal, with many more livable towns and cities to choose from. The real estate market is a lot larger and I found it easier to find the ideal house and location for us.

Acquiring Spanish citizenship normally takes 10 years, however, there’s a fast track of citizenship after 2 years if you are from an Ibero-American country. My wife qualifies for the fast track citizenship and I believe I can become a citizen as well 1 year after her naturalization.

If you’re interested in being able to move to other EU countries prior to becoming an EU citizen, you can also apply for the EU Long-Term Permanent residency after 5 years. Unlike the normal permanent residency offered in EU countries, this one allows you to live and work in other EU countries.

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I’m not an expert on the Spanish GV, but it was my understanding that for Spanish citizenship and permanent residency, you need to stay in the country 183 days per year. Is that accurate?

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Yes, EU citizenship was a big factor as to why I chose Portugal originally. Before living in a country, it’s quite difficult to know whether you will enjoy and be able to succeed there. It’s also quite difficult to predict whether the political or economic situation will become toxic similar to the events that occurred in your original home country. Having the entire EU at your disposal mitigated those risks.

But since the Portugal program is no more, we have to think carefully about our bottom lines. Personally, I’m prioritizing guaranteed or at least clear path to citizenship in under five years, end to end. Beyond that is just too much time for something to go wrong…

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Yes, that’s correct.

Here’s the stay requirement for the Long-term residence (aka PR) translated from the Spanish immigration site:

Having resided legally and continuously in Spanish territory for five years. Continuity will not be affected by absences from Spanish territory of up to six continuous months, provided that the sum does not exceed ten months within five years. If it is for labor reasons, it may not exceed a total of one year within the five years required.

If your only goal is to acquire PR/citizenship without spending sufficient time in the country then the Spanish GV isn’t for you. I believe Greece also has similar stay requirements for their PR and citizenship.

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What’s next after Portugal ?

  • for those who want the citizenship as soon as possible, Malta donation 2 Mil is the only way. You will get the citizenship quickly without worrying the hassle and policy changing. 2 Mil is the opportunity cost, unfortunately.
  • for those who want the citizenship under lowcost route. There is no other alternative. You still can apply GV Greece, GV Spain, GV Malta, but to get the citizenship no one can tell. Rules can be changed anytime. You might satify all requirement and will be able to apply for citizenship. However, these Govt will give you a citizenship or not is a different story. It is more like a political decision than mathematical decision i.e. checking all the boxes to see you have been qualified or not.

A lot of risks and uncertainties. But who knows, at least if someone keeps maintaining the GV and satifying the physical requirement + language requirement, it is hard for the Govt to deny. They might lengthen the process to make the applicant get tired. But if one could stay strong and be resilient, Govt eventually will give out the Citizenship. It is now the question of being consistently resilient for at least 10 years. The process will be very frustrated and energy consuming (mentallly, physically and financially). Forget about the marketing from the agent that you need only 7 days/ year in Portugal and after 5 years, you could submit your citizenship application.

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Just a note on Spain - they do not allow dual citizenship.

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Probably people who had Malta money have already gone the Malta route. Greece and Spain, as you mentioned, have high uncertainty about obtaining citizenship, so those aren’t feasible.

Assuming the Bulgaria program is stuck / inactive, thus the idea to look at countries on the EU periphery (Montenegro? North Macedonia?) or outside EU entirely.

Montenegro’s program has been suspended.
North Macedonia has even higher risk. So far no one has been handed the citizenship. I have asked my lawyer about this and that’s what he answered me.

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Really? One of my friends is a US citizen (san Francisco)and just got her Spanish passport last summer. It took a couple years

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The article from OP gives the reasons for curtailing these schemes. In addition the UK has been threatening to remove visa waiver from up to 112 countries because they are selling citizenship. The UK is not alone and the fact that many Russians enter Argentina to give birth in order to obtain citizenship in the middle of a war speaks volumes.

I have no special knowledge but I suppect the ability to buy citizenship is closing. My question is why does that matter to those honest nomads on this site? It is so easy to move from country to country or to divide one’s time between 3-4 countries on a repetitive basis without all this form filling and cost. That meets the requirements of nomads as opposed to those who wish to emigrate to a second country.

Legally, Spain allows dual citizenship for nationals from certain countries (e.g. countries in Latin America, Portugal, France, Philippines, Andorra, etc).

However, in practice, people from other countries can still keep both nationalities. Since Spain can’t see if an American has actually renounced their citizenship, it’s possible for them to keep both nationalities. Spain will simply not recognize the other nationality from a legal point of view. Here’s an article talking about this in more depth.

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Thanks, that’s really helpful

Thanks for sharing. It is very strange that Spain does not require the certificate of renounced previous citizenship. I know for sure that Germany and Japan always require the certificate of renounced other citizenship. Without these proof, they do not give out their citizenship to applicants. For some of my friends, it is actually takes longer time to renounce their current citizenship (2 years) than getting the German citizenship (1 year). But Spain might tighten the rule in the future…

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These are my key reasons, though others may exist:

  1. Ability to establish a permanent home base outside our country of origin (only citizenship truly works for this because PR’s generally require renewal, can be canceled if the issuing government changes its mind, and/or have maintenance or revocation conditions);
  2. Concern regarding international conflict or destabilization of home-country political situation leading to curtailment of travel privileges, revocation of passports (e.g. China past and present), or unwelcome status abroad (e.g. experienced by Russian citizens in 2022);
  3. Concern about increases in capital mobility constraints, which are already onerous for many countries and becoming more stringent even in the “free world”.

All of these issues multiply in importance and complexity in the case of international marriages or families.

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