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Our key message for anyone considering a Golden Visa in coming months is to get your application in as soon as possible. Or risk putting yourself under unnecessary pressure or at worst missing a final application deadline.

Following announcements by the Portuguese government, US citizens planning to secure Portuguese residency status for themselves and their family through a Golden Visa are advised not to delay making their application. This comes after Prime Minister Antonio Costa said in November that the visa scheme had fulfilled its role and suggested there was no justification for keeping it. No indication of when it might be stopped was given with the government treating it as an ongoing matter.

“Prime Minister Costa appears to have sown the seed that the scheme will likely be discontinued,” said Chris White, chairman of Ideal Homes Portugal. “We help many clients obtain Golden Visas through real estate purchases, so understand the value of this option to citizens from outside the European Union – not just Americans, but also South Africans, Australians, Asians and Britons. Our key message for anyone considering a Golden Visa in coming months is to get your application in as soon as possible. Or risk putting yourself under unnecessary pressure or at worst missing a final application deadline.”

Golden Visa – the benefits
A type of residency-by-investment visa, a Golden Visa gives Portuguese residency to successful applicants who invest in real estate or other specified capital investments. It is especially attractive to mobile entrepreneurs who don’t intend to spend long periods in Portugal or become tax resident there. This is because holders of a Golden Visa are required to spend just seven days in the country in their first year and a minimum of only 14 days in subsequent years.
Residency status is renewable and after five years the holder can apply for permanent residency or Portuguese citizenship. Not only do applicants obtain the usual benefits that come with residency in Portugal and the right to travel freely within the Schengen Area (most of the EU), but all entitlements can be extended to family members.

Eligibility for a Golden Visa
A key – but not sole – requirement for getting a Golden Visa is making a qualifying capital investment or investing in real estate in Portugal. The rules changed at the start of 2022, making the scheme more expensive and adding parameters for real estate purchases.
“Before this year’s rule change there were no restrictions on where in Portugal applicants could purchase their real estate,” explained Chris White, chairman at Ideal Homes Portugal. “However, since 1st January residential properties within areas classed as densely populated and/or ‘non-interior’ are no longer eligible for Golden Visa applications.
“This means Lisbon, the Silver Coast, Porto and most of the Algarve are now not options. The good news is some less-populated rural parts of the Algarve still qualify and these include Alcoutim, Aljezur, Castro Marim, Monchique, Vila do Bispo, and some parishes in Loulé, Silves and the northern part of Tavira municipality. There are also no limitations in Madeira and the Azores.”

The minimum investment in real estate within a qualifying area is €500,000. This drops to €350,000 if the property is part of an urban rehabilitation project, and if the location is also deemed ‘low density’ a further 20 per cent discount is applicable.
“Another useful nugget is that property classed as commercial also qualifies for Golden Visas with virtually no geographical restrictions. Like residential, the minimum requirement is €500,000, or €350,000 if the property is part of a rehabilitation project. This means that like hotels, certain resorts in coastal areas of the Algarve, where properties are used as tourist accommodation and operate within a rental scheme, are valid for a Golden Visa purchase. Of course, options for personal use by the owner will be limited but the visa holders get all the benefits of having flexible residency status in Portugal and by default the wider EU.”

Meanwhile, non-real estate options for Golden Visas include: the transfer of capital worth €1.5million to Portugal, investing €500,000 in a Portuguese fund, investing in an existing Portuguese business (€500,000), investing in scientific research (€500,000), starting a new company that employs a minimum number of people (€500,000), or investing €250,000 in the arts in Portugal.