Amendments to the Portuguese Golden Visa program and the impact of the current pandemic

By Pedro Borges Rodrigues and Sara Carpinteiro

The Portuguese Golden Visa program was recently amended due to political pressures. However, contrary to what had been enunciated by the Portuguese Government, these amendments will only be in force on Jan.1, 2022, which means that, until then, the existing rules and requirements continue to be applicable to all investors.

The amendments to the Golden Visa program are focused on two main aspects:  increase the minimum amounts of investment of certain investment options and define the specific areas where some real estate investments can be performed.

Updates to the Portuguese golden visa program in 2022

Amongst the most relevant amendments, we highlight the following investment options:

1. Transfer of funds to Portugal in an amount equal to or above 1.5 million euros - previously, that amount was 1 million.

 2. Transfer of funds in an amount of, at least, 500,000 euros (previously, 350,000 euros) for the acquisition of participation units in investment funds or venture capital funds aiming to the capitalization of companies, incorporated according to Portuguese law, whose maturity, at the time of the investment, is of, at least, five years and, at least 60% of the value of the investments is carried out in commercial companies based in Portugal.

3. Transfer of funds in an amount of, at least, 500,000 euros (previously, 350,000) for the incorporation of a commercial company with registered address in Portugal, together with the creation of five permanent jobs, or to reinforce the share capital of an existing commercial company with registered address in Portugal, with the creation or maintenance of a minimum of five permanent jobs and for a minimum period of 3 years.

For the acquisition of real estate properties, the investment amounts were not increased, having the investment to be of, at least, 500,000 or, at least, 350,000 if the construction was completed, at least 30 years ago or is located within an urban rehabilitation area and rehabilitation works will be performed. However, after Jan. 1, 2022, the Golden Visa will only be granted for housing purposes if the real estate asset is located within the Autonomous Regions of Azores or Madeira or in less densely populated areas, listed and identified in specific legislation.

Investments in allowed geographical locations in Portugal

Despite the aforementioned future investment restrictions for housing purposes, some less densely populated areas near the sea will remain eligible for the Golden Visa.

Even though these amendments have the purpose to promote investments in less densely populated areas, which can be less attractive, from an investment perspective, we consider that the Portuguese Golden Visa program will continue to attract investors, as there will be other, less expensive, investment options. Since properties located in less densely populated areas can be considerably cheaper and less attractive, fund investment options may become more attractive from now onwards.

The acquisition of real estate not intended for housing purposes will continue to be eligible for the Golden Visa program, regardless of the location of the real estate property (namely Lisbon and Porto).

The recent amendments to the Golden Visa Regime do not prevent the possibility to renew existing applications according to current rules and requirements. Similarly, the amendments do not prevent the possibility to grant or renew residence permits for family reunion whenever the Golden Visa was granted according to the legal regime in force until Jan. 1, 2022.

The impact of Covid on Portugal’s Golden Visa

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a big social and economic impact in Portugal. Additionally, Portugal, as well as many other countries worldwide, implemented unprecedented border controls and travel restrictions, with a huge impact on international mobility.

These restrictive measures have been varying, with different levels of severity, since the beginning of the pandemic, including entry prohibitions for people from certain countries considered to be at a greater risk of infection, like Brazil and the UK. After the increase of COVID-19 cases after last Christmas holidays, the Portuguese Government banned entry to non-Portuguese or EU citizens or residents, with few exceptions such as humanitarian flights.

In addition to the impact directly felt in the migration processes, the Portuguese Foreigners and Borders Control services – SEF – have been suspended and several appointments rescheduled due to the pandemic.

With the recent reductions of the number of new daily cases of those infected with COVID-19 in Portugal, and the consequent reduction in the number of hospital patients, as well as in the occupancy rate of intensive care units, the Portuguese Government has decided to create a step-by-step strategy for the lifting of some restrictive measures and an agenda with deconfinement phases.

The purpose of this agenda is to gradually open the Portuguese economy and, at the same time, to avoid the increase of COVID-19 cases, in order to guarantee that people will be able to travel to Portugal.

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About the Author

Pedro Borges  Rodrigues
Pedro Borges Rodrigues

Pedro Borges Rodrigues is a Portugal immigration lawyer. He is currently a senior associate attorney based in Lisbon with Miranda & Associados, Sociedade de Advogados R.L.

Miranda provides a variety of legal services throughout Portugal and through its network (Miranda Alliance), which has locations worldwide. Rodrigues has expertise in immigration, tax and real estate law, as well as corporate and labor law.

For immigration clients, he prepares Golden Visa applications and family reunions, as well as other types of residency visas, nationality applications and legal opinions. For tax clients, he helps clients become more tax-efficient, prepares memorandums and other services. For real estate, he assists with his clients’ needs in purchasing Portuguese real estate, negotiating lease contracts, assisting in the development of large-scale tourism projects, construction contracts, environmental issues and more.

Before joining Miranda, Rodrigues was a member of GPA’s international department, with his focus being Portuguese-speaking African regions (Angola, Mozambique and Cape Verde). He was with GPA since 2012, starting as a trainee lawyer. He also interned with the firm in 2009. Prior to joining GPA, Rodrigues was a trainee lawyer at Carlos Sousa Brito & Associados in Lisbon.

Rodrigues is a member of the Portuguese Bar Association. He received his law degree from the University of Lisbon, as well as master’s degree in corporate law and business law. He also has a post-degree in real estate law.

Rodrigues speaks Portuguese, English and Spanish.

Sara Carpinteiro
Sara Carpinteiro

Sara Carpinteiro is a Portuguese lawyer experienced in immigration, real estate and corporate law. She is currently an Associate Lawyer based in Lisbon at Miranda & Associados, Sociedade de Advogados R.L.

Miranda & Associados, Sociedade de Advogados R.L. began operations in Lisbon in 1987 and today it offers legal services in 18 countries across four continents.

Carpinteiro offers services via her firm in residence visas, residence permits, non-habitual resident status (NHR), citizenship-by-investment processes as well as the Golden Visa program.

Before joining Miranda, she worked as a trainee lawyer at Vieira de Almeida & Associados (VdA) and was Head of Legal of a Portuguese Company in the IT sector, which mainly focused on the international recruitment of IT specialists for projects in Portugal.

Carpinteiro received her law degree from the Portuguese Catholic University of Porto and holds a master’s degree in Law and Business from the Portuguese Catholic University of Lisbon.

She is a member of the Portuguese Bar Association.

She is fluent in Portuguese and English.

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