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Portugal’s Golden Visa still popular amidst Pandemic including the VC-Option

Even with the global pandemic causing much disruption around the world, applications and processing are still moving forward in a number of immigration offices, albeit recent closures. The statistics in April provided by the Portuguese Borders and Immigration Services (‘SEF’) observed over 52 applicants were able to receive their Golden Visas for Portugal with investments into the program reaching as high as 28 million EUR.

Impressive progress

Even though the number of visas was lower than what was seen in February, the amount still matched the number of March where the investments were actually much higher. The average amount invested for March jumped to nearly EUR 800,000. While under normal conditions this may not seem very impressive; however, with the world being largely shut-down by the pandemic, the progress is considerable in light of the state of most countries.

It is still a surprising achievement for the country to be able to raise any amount of revenue during a crisis. However, to be able to bring in nearly 60 percent of the monthly average shows a great effort. In 2020 alone, there has also been a large increase in the use of alternative investments.

Alternative investments increase by 24%

Nearly 30 percent of the applications for this year have come from alternative investments, a rise from 24 per cent of last year. This increase has risen from only one percent three years prior. In Portugal’s first quarter, nearly 259 applicants with 515 family members were able to receive their golden visas. Of the total 8,466 applications that have been approved since the beginning of the program in November 2012, nearly 90 per cent have come from real estate investments.

While the 2019 performance for the Portuguese Golden Visa was low compared to historical expectations, by the start of June this year the quotum had already reached nearly 45 percent of previous averages.

Over 118 approvals in June

Although the first quarter of the Golden Visa program in Portugal limped along despite the world pandemic, June is beginning to look like a record month. More than 118 applicants have received their visa approval already in June. This is currently the highest amount that has been seen in the past six months for residence permits. Of the foreign nationals that have made their way into the program, the largest amount (45) were from China. Brazil, coming in second place, was the country of origin of 24 applicants. Applicants for the golden visas also came from Turkey, Russia and South Africa.

The investments have brought nearly €73 million into the country since the beginning of June alone. Thus far this year, 2020 has seen investments of almost €372 million. The total investments that the golden visa program has brought into the country since the beginning of the program have reached as high as €4.6 billion. The largest portion of this revenue has come from the investment into real estate.

Last year, 2019, had been considered one of the worst years for performance according to the SEF. The total amount of golden visas issued were to 621 main applicants and their dependents. These figures accounted for the golden visa’s worst numbers in the past three years for the program. The last time that such low numbers were observed was when heavy reforms were enacted in 2015 to protect the program from scandal and fraud.

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EB-5 Program Update:

The EB-5 Program has lapsed. The US Congress is discussing the legislation that authorizes the program while USCIS reviews the regulations and policies for filing. Because of the recent court ruling that reversed the 2019 Modernization regulations, the investment level has shifted temporarily from $900,000 back to $500,000.

If the program is reauthorized before the regulations are updated, there may be another window of opportunity to file at $500,000.

LCR expects the program to be reauthorized in February 2022, and continues to work with international families that want to explore alternative residency options.

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