Portugal announced the end of its Golden Visa programme on February 2023. The programme, which started in 2012, gave non-EU citizens a quick path to residency in exchange for financial investments in the nation. After years of complaints that the programme was raising real estate prices and posing a risk of money laundering, the decision to stop it has been made. The original goal of the Golden Visa programme was to entice foreign investment to Portugal during the nation’s economic crisis. With more than 9,000 Golden Visas granted and €5.5 billion in investments made, the programme achieved its objective. By making real estate investments, generating employment, or founding a business, the scheme permitted investors to get resident cards in Portugal.
Investors may obtain entry to the European Union in return, which provided advantages including visa-free travel throughout the Schengen region. Despite its popularity, a number of organisations criticised the Golden Visa programme. As foreign investors were buying homes and driving up prices, critics claimed the programme was a major factor in the housing crisis in Lisbon and Porto. Additionally, they claimed that the programme was a backdoor for tax avoidance and money laundering because it only required a cursory investigation of the investors’ financial sources.
Portugal’s government made the decision to scrap the Golden Visa programme in response to these criticisms. The choice was made public as a part of the government’s new 2021 budget proposal. According to the proposal, the programme would be phased out after 2021 and no new applications would be allowed. Up until 2022, current Golden Visa holders would be eligible to renew their visas; after that, the programme would end.
Reactions to the decision to stop the Golden Visa programme have been conflicting. In a time of economic instability, supporters of the programme claim that it was a key factor in luring foreign investment to Portugal. They also mention how the programme helped improve the nation’s housing market and create jobs.
Critics counter that the Golden Visa programme was not long-term viable. They contend that the programme increased prices for locals and contributed to the housing crisis. Additionally, they contend that those attempting to dodge taxes or launder money used the technique to their advantage.
Following a number of statements and discussions in the public over the future of the Golden Visa programme, the Government’s final proposal was made public on April 14. Parliament will now examine this plan.
The final proposal just states the following:
The Golden Visa holders who have already been given protection under the new law will not be affected retrospectively.
The seven-day annual stay requirement rule will continue to apply.
Protected are those who have applied for a Golden Visa but have not yet obtained one.
Even though they will be reframed under the D2 Visa, the renewal visas will still have the same flexibility as the ARI.
The law will go into effect when published in the official journal.
Considering the various stages of the legislative process, it was expected that this approval process would take at least 35 days, assuming everything progresses smoothly.
To sum up, Portugal’s decision to scrap the Golden Visa programme is a big step forward for the nation. Although the programme was successful in luring foreign investment, its detractors contended that it was not long-term viable. Portugal’s government hopes that by ending the scheme, it would be able to solve issues with the property market and money laundering while still luring foreign investment through other avenues. Although it is unclear how the end of the Golden Visa programme will affect the Portuguese real estate market, it is expected to have a substantial impact on the nation’s economy and immigration laws.
Written by Tiger Brazil