While the world reeled from the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, it remained business as usual for Portugal’s citizenship by investment offering – the Golden Visa (GV) programme. Over the past two to three years, the GV programme has grown rapidly in popularity as applicants became increasingly aware of its competitive price points for property, said Jeremy Savory, CEO and Founder of Savory & Partners. “Traditionally, GV has been well known as the €500,000 programme. But now, a lot of investors are noticing that there are more options like €350,000 and €280,000.”
Traditionally, GV has been well known as the €500,000 programme. But now, a lot of investors are noticing that there are more options like €350,000 and €280,000
Savory was speaking at a recent webinar tilted Residency and Citizenship in Portugal, organised by Gulf News in association with Savory & Partners. Moderated by Eithne Treanor for Gulf News, other panelists included Christian Henrik Nesheim, Founding Editor of Investment Migration Insider Daily (IMIdaily.com) and Duarte Norton dos Reis, General Manager at the Portuguese real estate firm BWA Group. The webinar saw more than 500 registrations and attendees of different nationalities logging in from across the Middle East.
During the webinar, Reis noted that the GV investment figures did not nosedive in 2020. Instead, the focus merely shifted from one investment option to another. “It turned out to be a very good year in terms of GV investment. We expect GV will help a lot in achieving the GDP growth that has been forecast for Portugal,” said Reis, adding that since its inception in 2012, more than 9,300 GVs have been issued and over 5.6 billion euros has been invested in Portugal, mostly in real estate.
Nesheim echoed the sentiment. He explained that other competing programmes around the world faced logistical and technical challenges during the pandemic, which significantly reduced the number of applications that could be processed. However, Portugal has been able to keep that processing more or less uninterrupted. “The reward for that, obviously, is that their programme, rather than going down in 2020 like most others have, has stayed pretty much flat,” he said. “And staying flat in 2020 in itself is an achievement.”
[The] programme, rather than going down in 2020 like most others have, has stayed pretty much flat.
The webinar was interspersed with audience polls, including one on why Portugal has emerged as the most attractive path for investment migration. Sixty-five per cent of the audience voted for the low cost of living as the main reason that people want to be in Portugal. Other reasons were the low crime rate, ease of doing business and the fact that English is widely spoken in Portugal.
A key concern among the audience was the impact of the changes to GV that are coming into effect from July 1, 2021. Reis acknowledged that currently there wasn’t enough clarity, but he expected the status quo to be maintained. “We do know that the government wants to raise the minimum investment in certain specific areas. We advise our investors who want to go forward with this programme to do so before the July 1 deadline,” said Reis. Crucially, current laws will remain applicable to those applying before the deadline, irrespective of changes made later to the GV programme.
We do know that the government wants to raise the minimum investment in certain specific areas. We advise our investors who want to go forward with this programme to do so before the July 1 deadline.
Savory was also of the opinion that it was a great time to consider Portugal. He observed that tourism dropped significantly because of the lockdowns and this, in turn, brought down rents. “It’s become even more affordable to come to Portugal when you consider rent as a cost of living. But this also tells you how much the rents are going to go up once the lockdowns are over and the world comes out of the pandemic.”
The panel also fielded a wide range of questions, including those on joint ownership of properties in Portugal, access to public healthcare, insurance, leveraging educational facilities, taxation, naturalisation of newborns, citizenship for the rest of the family, and eventually acquiring citizenship.