By Moustafa Daly
For the first time, Portugal’s Golden Visa holders are now able to renew their visas online. The move was recently announced by the country’s Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) in a bid to tackle the backlog of renewals, which amounts to 19,900 requests, which is nearly 60% of the total number of Golden Visas issued.
The new measure is already in effect, requiring a simple online registration and fee collection process.
“Such renewals were, until now, done in person,” says Sara Sousa Rebolo, partner at Lisbon-based Prime Legal. “The applicant and the dependents, if any, would need to come to Portugal and have an appointment, for each family member that was priory scheduled by their legal representative to have their biometrics collected.
“However, due to the backlog that the Immigration Office is still recovering from, caused by being closed during COVID-19 pandemic, together with the restructuring that the Immigration Office is currently undergoing, made such measure an urgent need and quite frankly the only way to overcome the system incapacity,” she adds, referring to the sizable backlog of requests.
In addition to the backlog, there are over 20,000 people whose visas are set to expire soon, according to local media reports, making the online move all the more urgent.
Portugal’s Golden Visa and backlog
Since its launch in 2012, the Portuguese Golden Visa has grown to be one of Europe’s most popular residency by investment programs. In 2022, there had been concerns that the program would be halted due to a proposal put before Parliament by the communist party, but a parliamentary vote in November 2022 rejected the proposal program and kept the Golden Visa running throughout 2023 at least. This is expected to attract more potential investors to the program this coming year.
The anticipated uptick in popularity of the Golden Visa program means that the volume of applications/renewals is anticipated to increase in the coming year. “The immigration officers will be more available for concession processes and to deal with the new increase of applications arising from the program benefits,” explains Rebolo.
“It is important to note that this is an exceptional measure being of the utmost importance for all applicants with expired cards since 2020 to move quickly in order to benefit from this simplified procedure,” she adds.
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