This year may mark the end of an era for High Net Worth Individuals (HNIs) seeking a popular gateway to Europe, as after months of speculation, the curtain might finally fall on the Portuguese Golden Visa programme.
The decision comes as a setback to HNIs worldwide, who saw Portugal as an appealing stepping stone to the European Union and a nation of opportunity that provided investors and their families with a higher quality of life.
Introduced in 2012, the Portuguese Golden Visa program aimed to attract foreign investment by offering residency to individuals who purchased property. It became a top-performing program, attracting HNIs worldwide, particularly from India, China, Brazil, and Russia. Over the years, more than 10,000 investors (and their families) have obtained Portuguese residency through the program.
Founder and CEO of Savory & Partners, a leading high net-worth citizenship by investment firm, Jeremy Savory is also a long-term resident and investor in Portugal. “There are very few negatives about living in the country, let alone investing in the country,” he explains.
The company has processed over 4000 applications, with an overwhelming number of clients opting for the Portuguese residency route to citizenship. “While the potential closure of the golden visa program may have come as a blow to investors, Portugal offers several other successful routes to residency,” Jeremy adds.
While investors rush to submit their golden visa applications before the deadline, recent months have also seen an increased demand for other Portuguese immigration programs such as D2, D7, digital nomad, the non-habitual residency program and the HQA visa.
The Covid-19 pandemic led to a surge in demand for citizenship and residency programs in Europe and the Caribbean, with some countries reporting a 30-40% increase in applications.
Other factors adding to this hike are the present global financial and political crisis and tax policies.
The Indian government recently decided to increase taxes on outward remittances from 5 per cent to 20 per cent, effective July 1, 2023. Much like the Portugal update, this news has sent shockwaves through the Indian high-net-worth community. Savory and Partners reports witnessing a high volume of interest from Indian investors looking for investment strategies before the new tax law comes into effect.
Portugal’s Golden Visa program, still open until the new Indian tax regulations come into play, seems like a natural choice due to its attractive benefits.
Prabhu Sampath, an Indian biotechnology entrepreneur based in Dubai, obtained a Portuguese Golden Visa along with his family through Savory and Partners to explore business expansion in the EU.
“Portugal has everything that families prioritise, quality education and healthcare, safety, low cost of living, and accessibility. Processing our residency application through Savory and Partners, SEF and immigration authorities was memorably smooth,” he says. (Watch the video here)
The closure of the Portuguese golden visa program and the Indian government's decision to increase taxes on outward remittances are reminders of the changing dynamics of global mobility and the complex relationship between wealth, citizenship, and opportunity.