The Portuguese government has decided to review its much criticized ‘Golden Visa’, not to abolish it, but to update it with new rules that would create new jobs by redirecting investments from the big cities to depopulated areas.
The Portuguese Golden Visa is a program that offers residency to foreigners, who invest in properties, set up tech companies and create new jobs. A residency in Portugal permits one to travel throughout the whole Schengen Area and further.
According to the current rules, those wishing to get Portuguese citizenship by investments can do it in three ways: by purchasing a real-estate of at least €500,000 in Portugal, by transferring funds totaling at least €1 million to the Portuguese authorities, or creating a minimum of ten jobs for Portuguese citizens.
However, recent data published by the Service for Foreigners and Borders (SEF) shows that 90% of the investments went to the real estate market, which has caused house prices in the biggest cities like Lisbon and Porto to go up. As u result, rents for the locals have also increased.
The number of residence permits for pursuing investment activities (ARI) granted per year since 2021 are as follows:
- 2012 – 2
- 2013 – 494
- 2014 – 1526
- 2015 – 766
- 2016 – 1414
- 2017 – 1351
- 2018 – 1409
- 2019 – 998
Among all, 7498 residence permits were granted to property investments, acquiring real estate, 445 by transferring capital and only 17 by creating at least 10 new jobs. In money language, 4,378,813,787.85€ out of 4,851,321,701.65€ invested, went to the property market.
The Parliament of the Portuguese Republic had turned down a bill proposed by the opposition parties to abolish the Golden Visa Scheme in January this year. The opposition came up with the bill after a report of the anti-corruption organization Transparency International in October 2018, which concluded that the Golden Visa schemes are a gateway to Europe for corrupt people and money laundering.
Instead, the MPs voted pro the widening of the scheme by adding a new category called “green visas”.
The European Commission had later issued a manual guiding Portugal and other countries running such similar schemes how to manage them, including background checks for applicants, in order to avoid these visas to be misused by criminals and the corrupt.
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