By Marta Lillo
Portugal is paving the way to officially terminate new residence permit applications for investment in housing, thus putting an end to its golden visa program as it is currently known. Other investment streams, including the scientific research contribution, VC investment, and cultural and artistic contribution would continue staying open for new applicants.
In early July, the Work Group for Housing within the Portuguese Parliament Committee of Economy, Public Works, Planning, and Housing approved amendments to the government-led "Pacote Mais Habitação," or More Housing pact.
The review was carried out "article by article" during the session. The bill will undergo further scrutiny and discussion by the specialized Committee before being presented for a vote in the general assembly of the Parliament, says Tiago Gali, attorney at Next Lawyers.
“The problem is that the final wording of the approved text is not available yet, which for better or worst has major implications on the future of the Portuguese Golden Visa program,” Gali adds.
The next step for the future of Portugal’s Golden Visa
The final parliament voting for the approved initiative is expected to take place around July 19, after which it would be signed by Parliament’s president and sent for promulgation by the country’s President. Once promulgated, the decree will be officially designated as a law and subsequently published in the country’s official legal gazette "Diário da República" by the National Press, says Ana Cristina Vargas, lawyer at Caiado Guerreiro.
“The President of the Republic may exercise his right of veto, either because he considers that the diploma (decree) approved by the Assembly contains norms that contravene the Constitution (requiring the opinion of the Constitutional Court), or for political reasons that must be included in a substantiated message. In case there are norms considered unconstitutional, the Assembly may approve amendments to the diploma, sending it again for promulgation. However, whatever the reason for the veto, the Assembly can always confirm the text of the diploma previously approved by an absolute majority of the deputies in office (or a two-thirds majority for certain matters). If so, the President of the Republic must promulgate the diploma within eight days,” Vargas says.
What would change for Portugal’s Golden Visa holders once the new law is approved
If the bill is approved and implemented, the termination would not affect existing golden visa permits and pending applications. Therefore, individuals with existing golden visas can continue enjoying their residency status benefits. Also, Municipal Councils could continue to process and review pending golden visa applications per existing procedures, provided investors submit them before the law's implementation in August.
Meanwhile, the ending of new real estate investment residency applications would not impact residence permits for family reunification, which will still be granted and renewed per the existing regulations.
Why Portugal is set on not accepting some new Golden Visas
The amendments are part of the government's More Housing Program, which aims to address housing issues and regulate the local real estate market.
The assembly’s working committee approved the changes to the bill with strong support from the Socialist Party, Bloque de Izquierda, and the Portuguese Communist Party.
The decision would set another precedent since the European Commission called on European governments to stop selling Golden Visas to investors in 2022. Many countries have since started to shift their golden visa policies and application activities towards stricter programs.
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