New Regulations on the Portugal Golden Visa Program Are into Effect

In a significant development for aspiring investors and immigrants, Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has signed into law the “Mais Habitação” (More Housing) bill, bringing with it a comprehensive set of changes to the Portugal Golden Visa Program.

This landmark legislation marks a turning point in the country’s immigration by investment policies, with a shift away from real estate investment, leaving a change in qualifying options for Golden Visa investors.

The Mais Habitação program, which addresses the current housing crisis in Portugal, has been a subject of intense debate and scrutiny. When first presented on February 16, the law proposed to end the Portugal Golden Visa (PGV) program entirely, retroactively changing the conditions for visa-holding investors and causing confusion in the industry.

Now, after a few draft revisions and an initial veto by President Rebelo de Sousa, the bill has been enacted into legislation on Oct 6, 2023.

How does this affect the Portugal Golden Visa Program?

For those interested in the Portugal Golden Visa, the most significant result of the new legislation is the removal of real estate as an investment option directly and indirectly. Previously, real estate investment was the primary pathway for investors seeking golden visas and the program has been blamed for the increase in real estate prices. Under the new regulations, real estate investments, whether direct or indirect, are prohibited for program applicants. As a result, it’s safe to anticipate a major transition towards the fund investment category as the favored route for investors.

For program applicants going forward, these are the possible investment routes:

  1. Job Creation: Requires the creation of at least ten new jobs in Portugal
  2. Research activities: This option requires a minimum of €500,000 directed towards research activities conducted by public or private scientific research institutions integrated into the national scientific and technological system.
  3. Cultural heritage: Investors can qualify by transferring capital of at least €250,000 to support artistic production, recovery or maintenance of national cultural heritage through various public and private entities dedicated to cultural preservation.
  4. Collective investment: This option entails transferring capital of at least €500,000 for the acquisition of shares of non-real estate specific collective investment organisms incorporated under Portuguese law. These funds must have a maturity of at least five years, with at least 60% of their investments in national commercial companies.
  5. Commercial incorporation: Investors can also qualify by incorporating a commercial company in Portugal with a registered office in the country, combined with the creation of five permanent jobs, or by reinforcing the share capital of an existing commercial company with the creation or maintenance of a minimum of five permanent jobs, for a period of at least three years.

An important note for interested investors is that the minimum investment requirements for options 1, 2 and 3 can be reduced by 20% if the investment is made in low-density territories. These are defined as areas with fewer than 100 inhabitants per square kilometer or a GDP per capita of under 75% of the national average.

Does this change affect current applicants?

Luckily for current applicants, the changes to the visa program are not retroactive. Any applications submitted up until the day Mais Habitação legislation was put into effect will be processed following the previous law.

A positive outcome

The final legislation represents an overall positive outcome for the industry, particularly when considering earlier drafts of the law that contained controversial and unconstitutional points.

Some positive points for investors include:

  • Continuation of the PGV program: Previous drafts of the law sought to ban the Portugal Golden Visa Program and replace currently held visas with “Special D2 visas.” The final decision to uphold the visa program under new rules is a major win for investors.
  • Minimum residency days: The PGV offers a significant benefit in terms of the minimum residency days needed to maintain permanent residency, with just 7 days required in the first year and 14 days in subsequent years.
  • Law is not retroactive: The final legislation allows for applications submitted before the Mais Habitação law was enacted to be processed and considered under previous regulations. This is great news for those who have already undergone the application process and are waiting to be considered.
  • Overall, the final legislation and preservation of the Portugal Golden Visa program represent a positive outcome for the industry. These favorable conditions provide stability and continuity for investors, bolstering the attractiveness of the investment program in the global market.

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