Golden Visa misery: “This is an absolute scandal”

‘Golden visas’ bring in €654.2M in 2022, up 42% on year

But visas that have ‘lapsed’ still in bureaucratic doldrums

Portugal’s ‘golden visa’ programme – presented today by State news agency Lusa as the regime under which “major investors from non-European Union countries can receive fast-tracked residence permits” (giving them free circulation throughout Schengen Space) brought in €654.2 million last year, an increase of 41.9% over the previous year, according to calculations based on data from the Immigration and Borders Service (SEF).

Says Lusa, the programme marked its 10th anniversary in October.

“According to data from SEF, last year 1,281 Residence Permits for Investment (ARI) – as they are officially known – were granted: 94 in January, 94 in February, 73 in March, 121 in April, 112 in May, 155 in June, 80 in July, 77 in August, 120 in September, 83 in October, 121 in November and 151 in December.

“Last year, there were also 1,533 residence permits issued to family members of people who had already received an ARI, with 192 of these issued in December.

“Since the creation of the golden visas scheme – whose future the government is currently reviewing – a total of 11,535 have been granted: two in 2012, 494 in 2013, 1,526 in 2014, 766 in 2015, 1,414 in 2016, 1,351 in 2017, 1,409 in 2018, 1,245 in 2019, 1,182 in 2020, 865 in 2021, and 1,281 in 2022.

“In return for investment in property, there have been 10,593 permits granted so far, for an investment of €6.041 billion, of which €534.1 million corresponds to purchase for urban rehabilitation (1,485 permits).

“Regarding the capital transfer criterion, 920 permits have been granted to date, for a total amount deposited of €712 million.

“The job creation criterion (a minimum of 10 jobs) has seen 22 golden visas issued.

“The total cumulative investment in the programme, from October 2012 to December 2022, is €6.754 billion.

“By nationality, China leads the way in terms of nationals who have received ARIs, with 5,247, followed by Brazil (1,168), Turkey (546), the US (537), and South Africa (507).

“Since the beginning of the programme, a total of 18,808 residence permits have also been issued to family members of people with ARIs”, Lusa concludes.

There is one significant problem however with all this ‘good news’: golden visa holders whose visas have run out are still finding it almost impossible to renew.

Said one: “We just don’t know what to do. Since you wrote your article last summer, nothing seems to have changed. It’s more than a scandal… I am entertaining a digital nomad visa to stay legal. It’s very disconcerting because new applications for ARI are being granted, just not renewals…”

The whole programme has become something of a ‘hot potato’ too, in as much as Brussels has said ‘enough’s enough’; various quarters have criticised it for being “a race to the bottom”/ a gateway for the corrupt, but it does make the country money…

PM António Costa intimated that the government was ‘rethinking’ golden visas during last November’s Web Summit, but the likelihood of any kind of alacrity in this rethinking remains slim.

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