Golden Visa Chinese “feel cheated by Portugal”

With prime minister António Costa on a four-day official visit to China hoping to drum up new investment initiatives for Portugal, here the so-called “Golden Visa” Chinese are ‘up-in-arms’ over bureaucratic delays that see them treated like ordinary people, despite having invested “millions” on the pretext that they would be welcomed as VIPs.

According to TSF radio, enthusiasm for Portugal’s golden visa programme is now at an all-time low, with “hundreds” of Chinese feeling they have been cheated by “false propaganda”.

Talking with Lisbon-based businessman Jiaojiao Yao, TSF heard how three years ago, Yao’s premises were “filled” with fellow countrymen hoping to invest in property in Portugal.

Now, because of Portugal’s “bad reputation” – dating back to the so-called Golden Visa scandal involving high-level civil servants and a former government minister (click here) – it is “rare to see any new clients”, while those who have invested are regretting it.

The stories that upset investors are sending back home give a “terrible image of Portugal”, Yao told TSF.

The crux of the issue is that ‘golden visa’ holders still see their ability to come and go stymied by delays in annual visa renewals.

“It is ridiculous”, Yao told TSF. “They have made the (necessary) investment. People feel cheated”.

President of the League of Chinese in Portugal Y Ping Chow confirms the story saying delays can stretch to over a year.

The minimum investment for a so-called golden visa was 500 thousands euros, he explained, but there are people who “spent two or three million, as well as groups who invested 10 to 15 million” that have now been caught out by lack of follow-through by immigration authority SEF. This means means that they still have to apply for visas “in the normal way” if they wish to visit Portugal.

“The ministers and vice prime ministers announced golden visa and the Chinese community in Portugal made efforts to attract investors”, he said. “But now, for them it is false propaganda”.

Chow said upset countrymen were even planning a protest outside SEF’s headquarters in Lisbon, but were “stopped” by their embassy.

Others are “trying to sell what they have bought in Portugal”, he said.

Meantime, SEF has promised to “resolve the problem by the end of the year”, admitting to TSF that there has been “some delay in visa renovations” but not accepting that they stretch beyond a few months.