By Moustafa Daly
Two months in the making, the Portuguese government has finally made the final draft of the housing bill available that it intends to present for a legislative vote. The bill proposes the end of the real-estate golden visa, among other measures, to tackle the housing crisis.
The government’s initial intent was to cancel the golden visa with some retroactive measures that would impact current visa holders’ access and ability to use their properties for commercial purposes, which was announced on Feb 16. It proposed mandating property owners to rent out golden visa properties long-term, as opposed to Airbnb, and also that visa holders would only be able to renew their visas if they meet criteria for a normal residence permit which any non-EU foreigner is obliged to obtain.
The Portuguese government responds to industry pressure
After a long public debate, in which professionals and lawyers criticized the government for what they perceived as unconstitutional (applying laws with a retroactive effect), the António Costa government has released its final draft of the bill, backtracking on retroactivity among other things.
Notably, the government, which initially intended to halt issuance of new visas starting February 16, has now announced that date is pending and possibly new golden visa applications will continue to be considered until the law comes in full effect – following approval by the parliament and then the president.
Also, golden visa applications for investments in artistic and cultural endeavors will continue to be admitted.
“This is a very different approach from the one previously announced by the government and shows the receptivity to the pressure and suggestions of the market. In this regard, we believe that this proposal brings the necessary security for Investors to proceed with their investments and applications, which must be done as soon as possible,” explained Sara Sousa of Prime Legal in a statement to Uglobal.
There’s still time for Portugal’s golden visa investors
Sousa expects the process to take months, encouraging current and new applicants to make a move soon if they wish to pursue a golden visa in Portugal.
“Considering the Parliament known agenda, we believe that the discussion will not start before May 10 and by general things of the legislative process, shall be concluded, in the “best” case scenario, within 45 days,” said Sousa. “It is expected that in the Parliament, the political parties’ discussion leads to some amendments, namely considering the market pressure for a transition period.”
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