SEF platform back open for business
After five months in limbo, Portugal’s golden visa platform is back on track, accepting applications for ‘ARIs’ (authorisations of residency for investment).
Online real estate sites are buzzing with the news, suggesting it reinstates Portugal in the eyes of investors at a crucial moment for the economy.
Grey areas still persist however: particularly for investors whose visas have expired, or are about to expire. As the Resident explained recently, those people are unable to move around Europe freely as their legal position is compromised.
But, from the real estate sector’s point of view, the good news is that it can get back to the lucrative activity of ‘selling’ (the vast majority of ARI’s have been awarded to investors who purchase high-end property in Portugal).
Idealista website reports the ARI platform “has already received several candidacies for golden visas”.
Said Hugo Santos Ferreira, president of APPII (the Portuguese association of real estate developers and promoters): “We consider this positive and are pleased to note the competent authorities have responded to APPII’s concerns”.
APPII was one of many entities that have been pushing for action on these visas, which got caught up in problems after the government altered the terms of the regime just as SEF (the foreigners and borders agency which processes the applications) was being ‘dismantled’/ restructured.
Idealista explains “the consequences” of the five-month ‘freeze’ on applications brought knock-on effects for the country:
“Investors became unhappy and ‘desperate’
Foreigners were put off buying property in Portugal
Foreigners invested in ‘golden visa’ schemes offered by other countries (all of them giving non-EU citizens the right to freely move around Europe)
Portugal was left with a tarnished international image.
Says APPII, now that the ARI platform is back in action “all players in the sector should join forces to clean the image of Portugal abroad and attract more foreign investment in property” because “this is one of the great pillars of our economy, representing 15% of GDP in 2019”.
Stresses Hugo Santos Ferreira, the wider world is in social and economic crisis; there is the risk of recession, but Portugal “offers unique conditions to those who seek us as an investment destination, due to security, location, quality of life (…) And it is for this reason that it is essential to have the process of residency permits for investment 100% operational, to attract and receive with dignity those who want to invest in our country”.