Portuguese Golden Visa Termination – Final call?

The Golden Visa program has given investors a unique opportunity to obtain Portuguese residency and access the Schengen area.

Following much debate about the impending termination of the Golden Visa program, the Government has proposed a new bill that will allow Golden Visa holders and applicants (until the new law is passed) to be grandfathered in.

The first bill proposal presented by the Portuguese Government was, from a legal perspective, draconian and in breach of the Portuguese Constitution. It negatively impacted the rights of both new Golden Visa applications and those approved under the previous legal framework.

Terminating the Golden Visa is part of a package promoting affordable housing (Mais Habitação).

The Golden Visa program allowed foreign investors to legally reside in Portugal so long that some investment criteria were met, namely having locked in an eligible investment for five years and complying with unique minimum stay requirements instead of the “standard” 183-day stay rule applicable to other residence permits.

The main advantage of the program was the minimum stay requirements. Under the Golden Visa rules, an investor could secure a residence permit if they maintained their investment and stayed, on average, seven days per year in Portugal.

The first bill proposal presented by the Portuguese Government established that the program was to be cancelled entirely and that only investments made until February 16th of 2023 would still be eligible for the Golden Visa. The cut-off day was retroactive. Also, the previous proposal terminated the unique stay criteria established for Golden Visa holders. It introduced further requirements, such as renting or living in the investment property. The proposal was silent concerning other types of Golden Visa investments.

The proposal led to a tremendous argument outbreak in the legal and real estate sector because it would create problems for Golden Visa holders and new applicants who were not expecting such changes.
Furthermore, in the legal sector, several opinions, ours included, highly disputed the legality of such a proposal, deeming it unconstitutional for breach of legitimate expectations and being retroactive. Passing such a bill would directly violate the rule of law and trigger a landslide of litigation against the Portuguese State.

The new bill still cancels the Golden Visa Program. However, it provides that the program cancellation will only apply after the new bill enters into force. Therefore, there’s a last call.

Under the new bill proposal, all Golden Visa renewals will be renewed under the previous Golden Visa rules. The latest and past investors will not have to comply with the general 183-day stay requirements to renew their residence authorizations.

Because the program is going to be effectively terminated, the Portuguese Government decided to amend the law in such a way that the present Golden Visas are going to be automatically converted into the already established entrepreneur visa but without the obligation of having to fulfil the general staying requirements days for regular residence authorizations.

The new proposal is aligned with the suggestions and warnings issued by the real estate and legal sectors. It thus will grant past Golden Visa holders and new applicants to be grandfathered under the legal certainty that their residence status (and the underlying usefulness of their Golden Visas) will not be endangered by future program cancellation.

If you still wish to apply, we recommend contacting us as soon as possible and making expedited travel arrangements to travel to Portugal to allow a swift investment setup and Golden Visa filing process.

To know more about the Golden Visa eligible investments, follow this link.

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