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Portugal more attractive for non-EU citizens

By INÊS LOPES ines.lopes@algarveresident.com

A series of new laws, being introduced in Portugal in October, aims to attract non-EU citizens with cash to invest, as it is believed that many are just waiting for the right opportunity and conditions.

Portugal’s conditions to lure non-EU cash investors to the country are just three. In exchange, non-European nationals acquire the right to live in the country long-term.

The new legislation, passed under decree-law n.º 29/2012 of August 9 and published in the government’s official publication Diário da República, comes into effect on October 9 2012 and relates to the judicial regime pertaining to foreign citizens and establishes norms of entry, stay and exit from Portugal (Regime jurídico de entrada, permanência, saída e afastamento de estrangeiros do território nacional).

Portugal is working hard to become an attractive destination for wealthy, highly qualified individuals, willing to invest and work in the country – particularly in the face of harsh international competition as other European countries work toward attracting the same type of investment both in people and financial investment.

With European countries short of money, the need to attract investment from other world economies is pressing. EU policies regarding non-EU citizens are thus becoming a little more flexible to give member states a chance to attract much-needed investment from outside the European Union in as hassle free a way as possible.

Andrew R. Coutts, Managing Director of ILM Asset Management, a company operating in Portugal since 1990, with offices in the Algarve and London, and specialising in providing strategic advice, development and asset management in the resort and hospitality real estate sector, explained the new rules to the Algarve Resident: “The amendments (still to be detailed) to the 2007 law will allow non-EU citizens to receive a Portugal visa, permitting them to enter and stay in Portugal assuming various forms of investment are undertaken for a minimum period of five years.”

These investments are either the transfer of one million or more Euros in capital, the creation of a minimum of 30 jobs or the acquisition of property to a value of a minimum of €500,000.

“In October the full detail of the amendments will be published and we can then analyse the differences with the 2007 law,” said Andrew Coutts.

Referring to the benefits of the new legislation for non-EU citizens, the expert said that non EU citizens wishing to invest privately and strategically in Portugal can now do so and benefit from a visa permitting them to a) own property and b) spend time in Portugal.

According to Coutts, the aim of implementing these new laws is to stimulate demand in the middle to upper part of the residential tourism market in Portugal and thereby have a positive impact on the economy in areas of the country in which tourism is the key economic sector. He added that key markets are likely to be “CIS countries (such as Russia), the PALOPs – Brazil and Angola, perhaps even China”.

When asked if he believed the new laws represented a good incentive to attract non-EU citizens to Portugal, he said he felt positive that the new “investment visa” law would make Portugal competitive within the European market and other markets.

According to Coutts, the new laws are expected to “…catalyse demand for our resort and second home market from outside the Euro Zone, where there is an economic dynamic, with emerging middle classes wishing to travel and invest in second home properties”.

Coutts believes Portugal has much to offer to these people, many with cash to spare who are just waiting for the right opportunity to invest. Portugal has “…wonderful natural resources and other assets to offer, such as a strategic location, history/culture, a temperate climate, a hospitable host community, low cost of living, quality medical care, a value for money property market, Portuguese gastronomy, etc.”

The decree-law refers also to the EU Directive 2009/50/EC on the conditions of entry and residence of third-country nationals for the purposes of highly qualified employment.

The Directive states that “the Lisbon European Council in March 2000 set the Community the objective of becoming the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world, capable of sustainable economic growth with more and better jobs and greater social cohesion by 2010”.

For this, measures to attract and retain highly qualified third-country workers are still needed.

Highly-skilled non-EU citizens are able to work and live in any EU country if in possession of the Blue Card, which is an approved EU-wide work permit.

Do you have a view on this story? Please email the Editor at ines.lopes@algarveresident.com