Changes to the Golden Visa programme

The proposal to restructure the Golden Visa programme was discussed and approved on July 19.

In a surprising turn of events, it was decided no longer to terminate the programme, but instead eliminate two types of investment:

  • All real estate investments in the country;
  • Capital transfer bank deposit option.

Thus, the Golden Visa Portugal programme will not end, but includes changes in the types of eligible investments, specifically the real estate route, both direct and indirect, which will no longer be eligible for the programme.

Indeed, in the approved proposal, it was decided to revoke residence permits for real estate investment activity.

Under the terms of the now approved proposal, “investment activity” is considered to be any activity carried out personally or through a company that leads, as a rule, to the realization of at least one of the following situations on the national territory and for a minimum period of five years:

(i) Creation of at least 10 jobs;

(ii) Transfer of capital in an amount equal to or greater than €500,000, which is applied in research activities carried out by public or private institutions of scientific research, integrated on the national scientific and technological system;

(iii) Transfer of capital in an amount equal to or greater than €250,000, which is applied in investment or support to artistic production, recovery or maintenance of national cultural heritage, through central and peripheral direct administration services, public institutes, entities that make up the public business sector, public foundations, private foundations with public utility status, inter-municipal entities, entities that make up the local business sector, municipal associative entities and public cultural associations, that pursue tasks in the area of artistic production, recovery or maintenance of national cultural heritage;

(iv) Transfer of capital in an amount equal to or greater than €500,000, intended for the acquisition of shares in non-real estate collective investment undertakings, which are constituted under the Portuguese law, whose maturity, at the time of the investment, is at least five years and at least 60% of the value of the investments is made in commercial companies headquartered on national territory;

(v) Transfer of capital in an amount equal to or greater than €500,000, intended for the incorporation of a commercial company with its registered office on the national territory, combined with the creation of five permanent jobs, or to reinforce the share capital of a commercial company headquartered on  national territory, already constituted, with the creation of at least five permanent jobs or the maintenance of at least 10 jobs, with a minimum of five permanent jobs, and for a minimum period of three years.

The minimum amount or quantitative requirement for the investment activity provided for in paragraphs (i), (ii) and (iii) may be 20% lower, when the activity is carried out in low-density territories, considering those defined as such by the Ordinance 208/2017, of July 13, with less than 100 inhabitants per km2 or a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita below 75% of the national average.

The investment activities foreseen in paragraphs (i) to (vi) need to be evaluated every two years regarding their impacts on scientific and cultural activity and on the promotion of foreign direct investment and job creation.

The aforementioned investment activities cannot be used, directly or indirectly, for real estate investment.

The minimum stay of 14 days every two years, and the requirements to qualify for the citizenship, will remain the same.

Hence Portugal continues to offer the only program in Europe of citizenship by investment, with no relocation or tax implications.

The diploma – which contains several measures that raise protests from various sides and even raise doubts of constitutionality – will still have to be promulgated by the President of the Republic, before being published in Diário da República and, finally, entering into force.

By Dr Eduardo Serra Jorge
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Dr Eduardo Serra Jorge is founding member, senior partner and CEO of lawyers firm Eduardo Serra Jorge & Maria José Garcia – Sociedade de Advogados, R.L., created in 1987.
In his column, he addresses legal issues affecting foreign residents in Portugal.
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