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Portugal Golden Visa News - is this the end?
10 Mar 2023 . By Roberto Castro Mendonça - Lawyer

Portugal Golden Visa News - is this the end?

We have a more recent article on this topic

* Last updated: 31 March 2023

The Portuguese Government has taken another step towards ending the Golden Visa programme in Portugal, with the approval, on 30 March 2023, of a draft law determining the end of the regime.

The draft law will now enter the Portuguese Parliament and remains subject to discussions and amendments. In this regard, the Government has already confirmed its openness to introduce modifications to the initial proposal.

At this date, it seems unlikely that specific provisions will be introduced to protect the rights of those who have already concluded investments and submitted applications by the time the final law is published. This, we understand, could still take at least one month.

We will monitor and report on developments and possible proposals for amendments. Interested parties may consider awaiting the approval of the final text in Parliament to verify its entry into force and the rules protecting acquired rights - see the timeline below for more information.

For the avoidance of doubt, these amendments refer only to the Golden Visa regime (which is a residence permit) and in no way affect the Non-Habitual Resident regime (which is a tax regime).

Is this the end of the Golden Visa in Portugal?

Yes, for all types of Golden Visa. The Portuguese Prime Minister has clearly stated that this program has already fulfilled all the objectives and that it is time to move forward and promote other types of immigration programs. This idea was made clear in the presentation of the final proposal submitted to Parliament, where the Prime Minister announced that pending Golden Visa applications should be processed like any other residence permit for entrepreneurial immigrants.

However, the exact conditions of this termination may still be changed during the discussion process in Parliament.

What we know about the end of the Golden Visa in Portugal

For now, we are only aware of the following points:

  • there is a Proposal submitted to the Portuguese Parliament to put an end to the Golden Programme;
  • The Golden Visas already granted will be reconverted, at the time of their renewal, into residence permits for entrepreneurial immigrants as long as the respective requirements are met and duly assessed by the competent entities for the verification of the entrepreneurial project in progress. For the time being, further details about this certification are unknown.
  • The Golden Visa applications submitted from 16 February 2023 onwards and those which, even if submitted before this date, are still being processed, will be analysed according to the rules for residence permits applicable to entrepreneurial immigrants;

What we don’t know at this time

Several aspects remain subject to change, such as

  • What will be the exact timeline? Will there be a transition period?
  • Will the cessation (terms and timeframe) apply equally to the whole Portuguese territory? For example, the Regional Government of Madeira has expressly stated that it wants the Golden Visa programme to continue. There is a precedent of previous changes that did not apply equally to the whole territory.
  • Will investment made under the Golden Visa regime be considered for the purposes of fulfilling the "investment" requirement underlying the residence permit for immigrant entrepreneurs?

Timeline – what happens now?

Although this is merely an estimate, we can summarise the next steps as follows:

  • 31 March - the Government proposal enters Parliament and is subject to further amendments by political forces.
  • 1-2 months after the previous step - the final proposal is approved by the Parliament.
  • 1-2 weeks after the previous step - the President promulgates the proposal of the Parliament and sends it for publication (unless there are constitutional issues, for example);
  • 1 week after the previous step - the Proposal is published (thus becoming a Law) and enters into force, with the possibility of introducing a transition period.

What alternative do you have?

Portugal has several attractive residency programmes, such as the new digital nomad visa, which is aimed at remote workers who want to live and work in Portugal; the D7 visa (for applicants with mainly passive income, such as pensions or dividends); the D2 visa (for entrepreneurs or freelancers); and the Start-up Visa, among others.

The Portuguese Prime Minister stressed that Portugal wants to maintain its attractiveness for foreign citizens and is investing substantially in public services to speed up and digitalise visa processing.

Final thoughts on the end of the Golden Visa in Portugal

Portugal continues with the firm intention of attracting new inhabitants, entrepreneurs, and highly qualified workers. To this end, new, attractive, and simplified conditions for access to residence permits have been created over the past months.

In addition to the various exciting alternatives that those interested in living in Portugal already have, there are also tax opportunities, such as the non-habitual resident regime.

In this sense, the end of the Golden Visa should be interpreted as a change in policy to attract new residents, removing the focus from real estate investment and bringing the Portuguese regime in line with the most recent trends in the European Union, which point towards the withdrawal of this type of residence permit.