The Portugal Golden Visa program is set to continue, with changes 

On July 19, the Portuguese Parliament approved a housing bill that includes the restructuring of the Portugal Golden Visa program. The new law, which is expected to be published in coming weeks, is now subject to review and approval by the President of Portugal. Once approved, it will then be signed by the Prime Minister and published in the official gazette. Once it is published, the law will take effect immediately, with no grace period. Industry stakeholders expect this new version of the program to be enforced between mid-August and early September.

What are the changes to the PGV program?

The biggest change is that, after the law goes into effect, no real estate investments or capital transfers will be eligible for future Golden Visa applications. This includes direct investments, such as the purchase of residential and commercial properties, as well as indirect investments, such as funds invested in real estate. Investments that remain eligible for the Golden Visa are scheduled to have their minimum investment amounts reset if the new law goes into effect. The focus for eligible investments seems to be on cultural and commercial/entrepreneurial activities.

While we must wait for the final publication of the new law, the bill approved by Parliament shows there are likely to be five types of investments that remain eligible for a Golden Visa application.

For an application to be eligible for the PGV, it must make a minimum capital transfer of €500,000, to be applied to:

1) research in public or private sectors;
2) the acquisition of shares in non-real estate collective investments; or
3) the incorporation of a commercial company headquartered in Portugal and meeting specific job creation criteria.

Or the application must invest a minimum of €250,000, to be applied to:

4) the recovery or maintenance of cultural heritage or to provide support for artistic production.

Or the application must lead to:

5) the creation of at least 10 jobs, with no minimum investment.

The reduction of 20% in the minimum investment amount in areas of low population density should continue to apply to the research, job creation, and cultural/artistic investment modalities.

What does this change mean for investors?

The two main victories inherent in the current draft of the law are that 1) it maintains the current “7 days per year residency requirement” for Golden Visa investors and 2) the new law is not retroactive. Therefore, if you have already submitted your application, the process should follow the current law.

If you still need to start your application process under the current regulations, time is getting short, given that a new law could come into effect very soon. However, if you have already started your application, it may be a good idea to complete and submit your application quickly while the current law is still valid. This is especially true if you are planning to invest in real estate because once a new law goes into effect, you will be unable to do so. Contact reliable counsel to find out whether sending your application is still feasible.

The final steps of the legislative process described above must occur for the proposed law to become active. Until then, the current law is in effect.

Final considerations

The restructuring of the Portugal Golden Visa program is a sign that the Portuguese government has contemplated input from attorneys and industry stakeholders who have fought to keep the program active and, most important, fought for investors’ rights. Back in February 2023, when the Prime Minister first announced a possible change and even the end of the program, some of the measures presented were considered unconstitutional.

The resulting bill approved by the Portuguese Parliament and sent to the President for approval shows that cooperation between the industry and the responsible legal community has helped to transform the PGV program in ways that benefit both investors and the Portuguese economy. International investors should feel confident in Portugal as a safe investment destination and the Portugal Golden Visa program as an attractive route to permanent residency in Europe.

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