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Understanding the Future of Portugal’s Golden Visa

Portugal’s Golden Visa has long been used as an accelerated path towards Portuguese and EU citizenship for non-EU investors looking to put their money into Portugal’s property market.

There had been some concerns over the last few months that changes coming to the visa scheme would drastically change how it worked, and perhaps make the scheme less appealing to new applicants.

However, the Portuguese government has recently announced an extension to the visa scheme and applications to gain Portuguease citizenship.

The extension means applicants will have until the end of 2021 to gain Portuguese residency or citizenship.

Here, Ideal Homes Portugal looks at the visa scheme and what is expected to happen with it in the next 12 months.

Understanding the Golden Visa scheme

Portugal’s Golden Visa scheme through real estate investment is a popular way to gain visa free travel through the Schengen area and gain Portuguese citizenship after six years.

For UK citizens keen to get an EU passport after Brexit, the Golden Visa scheme has become even more popular.

It’s also popular compared to other programs because of the lower minimum time you have to stay in Portugal to qualify for a visa or citizenship. In other schemes you have to stay in the country for four to six months a year, minimum, to qualify.

With the Golden Visa scheme you only need to stay in Portugal for a week in the first year and two weeks in the following years.

Since the scheme started, more than 22,000 visas have issued.

And this number has accelerated due to higher numbers of US applicants, and UK applicants looking for speedy citizenship within an EU country.

What can you get from the Portugal Golden Visa?

  • Visa Free Travel – With the Golden Visa, you can travel freely throughout the Schengen area
  • Gain Portuguese Citizenship – you will be able to work and live in the third safest country in the world, benefitting from public services such as healthcare and education
  • Become a Non-Habitual Resident – take advantage of the NHR program to pay little or no tax for a period of 10 years
  • Bring along your family – the Golden Visa program allows for you to include dependent family members such as spouses, children and other dependent family members
  • Investment – make a sound investment in a country that can generate you great returns

Who can apply for the Portugal Golden Visa

Any non-EU citizen (including UK citizens following Brexit) can apply for the Portugal Golden Visa as long as they’re 18 years’ old minimum, and have a clean criminal record.

A real estate investment must be made that qualifies for the scheme, prior to the application process.

A qualifying real estate investment must be:

  • 500,000€ in high density areas such as Lisbon and Porto
  • 400,000€ in low density areas such as the Algarve
  • 350,000€ in rehabilitation projects for properties over 30 years old in high density areas such as Lisbon and Porto
  • 280,000€ in rehabilitation projects for properties over 30 years old in low density areas such as the Algarve

Investments for the Golden Visa scheme must be made in cash, so any applicant’s hoping to secure a mortgage won’t qualify. Although there are other visa schemes to use instead for mortgage applications.

It’s possible an applicant could qualify if they’re requesting financing above the minimum investment threshold.

Investing in Portuguese real estate using the Golden Visa

There are four thresholds an applicant must meet when obtaining the Golden Visa.

If investing in a property under 30 years old the minimum investment amounts in a high density area (like Lisbon or Porto) is 500,000€. In low density areas like the Algarve, the minimum investment amount is 400,000€.

Portugal also has “rehabilitation projects” which are aimed at generating investment into particular areas of the country. In these areas, the minimum investment in high density areas is 350,000€ and 280,000€ in low density areas.

Properties in these areas must be government approved for “rehabilitation” purposes.

Changes coming to the Golden Visa scheme

While changes to the Golden Visa will happen in the future, they’ve been delayed for another six months so there’s still time to apply.

The application stage spans over two years, with two renewal periods every two years before applicants will qualify for the permanent residency.

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