It’s officially the end of an era for golden visas in Europe. The changes to various golden visa programs started in 2022, with the closure of the Cyprus citizenship-by-investment program, followed by the UK in February 2022. In 2023, we saw the trend continuing with the closure of the Montenegro and Ireland residency by investment programs. In a few weeks, we will witness the same fate of the most sought-after European Golden Visa Program — Portugal. This undoubtedly will be the biggest loss in terms of European investment immigration programs in past years.
What is the Portugal Golden Visa?
With the Portugal Golden Visa program, families can gain EU residency with an investment of as little as ¤250,000 (approximately Dh1,115,000) in real estate. Most importantly, all applicants only need to spend 7 days in the first year and then 14 days every subsequent 2 years in Portugal to maintain the visa.
After just 5 years, investors and their eligible family members (spouse, children, and dependent relatives) can apply for a Portuguese permanent residency and/or Portuguese citizenship (EU Passport). Successful applicants will then be able to live, work and study anywhere in the 27-country bloc without any restrictions.
Why should UAE residents rush to apply?
While no official date has been announced by the Portuguese government yet for the expiry of the Golden Visa program – the draft law passed in parliament indicates that the real estate investment route will likely come to an end at some point in October.
Under the new law, several options will still be available for investors looking to secure Portuguese residency. However, it will never be as attractive as it is at this moment, given the passive and lucrative nature of a real estate investment option. Capital transfers to the amount of €1,500,000 or more will also no longer be accepted and investing in funds that have direct or indirect real estate investments will also no longer be an option.
The program is immensely popular among UAE residents as golden visa holders are not required to relocate to Portugal in order to both maintain their visa status or later be eligible for EU citizenship. This lenient physical residency requirement is a vast difference from the large number of other European residency and citizenship by investment programs, which require a majority of time to be physically spent in the country in order to reach citizenship and a passport. With the Portugal Golden Visa, investors can continue living and working in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, or across the GCC, and obtain a second citizenship or replace their current passport with a more powerful one.
With an EU passport in hand, the doors of the entire European Union open including living and working legally in any EU country (not restricted to Portugal). The Portugal Passport currently ranks #5 in the world on Passport Ranking Index and provides visa-free access to 187 countries. This makes it one of the most desirable passports in the world with a very high mobility score.
Preeya Malik, Managing Director of Step Global — an immigration firm specialized in residency and citizenship by investment programs concludes, “We made the decision to offer the Portugal Golden Visa Program to clients because we view it as the premier European Residency and Citizenship by investment option.
The Portugal Golden Visa program is the ideal route for those who wish to obtain a residency and EU passport while also attaining a valuable investment asset, and by spending minimum amount of required time in the country in order to maintain their residency status. This is unmatched by any other European program currently available.
Many have seen this investment in real estate or ownership of shares in a property in Portugal, as a chance to obtain residency or citizenship while making annual rental returns and also holding an asset with the chance of capital appreciation in some cases.”
Portugal’s final decision
The announcements made on April 16, 2023, assured prospective investors that any applications filed before the law is signed as official, will be accepted and processed with no retroactive effects.
On July 19, 2023, the Portuguese Parliament approved the final version of the Golden Visa legislation removing the option for real estate investment under the program and sent the final draft to the President for approval and signature, which would officially turn the draft into law. Unexpectedly, the President chose to veto on August 21, 2023, thus delaying the changes to its Golden Visa Scheme and sending the draft back for further discussion. Parliament will resume discussions in the forthcoming session in September and is expected to get sent back to the President for signature again in October.
It is important to note that all applications submitted before the law is passed and signed off by the President, will continue to be considered and normally processed.
Time to act
Now is the time to make your golden decision before it’s too late. If you have funds to invest and want to also obtain EU residency, several options have already been taken off the table this year, but there is still time to complete the Portugal Golden Visa process before it too ends. As there is an administrative process to complete before actual submission of the application, we advise interested individuals to start at the earliest in order to complete various steps including collection of required documents, review and selection of available real estate options, and final submission of the application, before the law is made official.
Come, meet the Step Global lawyers for their last informational sessions on the Portugal Golden Visa before its closure. Malik, who is herself an award-winning lawyer, will be in-person to host the sessions from Monday, September 11 to Saturday, September 16, 2023 at her Dubai office, located in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT). During these free info sessions, the immigration lawyers will take attendees through the process of the program, present eligible real estate property opportunities available, which are carefully selected for Portugal Golden Visa purposes, and answer all questions.
About Step Global
Step Global is a leading full-service investment immigration advisory firm based in the GCC, and headquartered in Dubai, with over 13 years of experience in the investment immigration industry. We have a 100 per cent track record of approvals across all applications with clear documentation. Our team is specialized in North American and European investment immigration programs, specifically in the United States EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program, the Canadian Start-Up Visa Program and Entrepreneur Programs, and the Portugal Golden Visa.