We often get clients asking for assistance with golden visa applications. There are two very separate aspects to keep in mind when looking at a golden visa program – the specifications of the visa itself and then the investment requirements to qualify for the application. There are many countries that offer some form of visa “purchase” option and but we quite favour the Portuguese option for various reasons.
“Golden visa” is a general description for a program by a country that allows foreigners to basically purchase residency and in some cases eventual citizenship in that country. It is done through some form of investment program. Each country will have its own rules ranging from compulsory investment in government-approved structures with no growth on your investment, right through to almost “normal” investment programs, as long as they are held in the particular country. The rules for each program will be quite specific and it is crucial that applicants understand what is expected of them from the day they apply until the day they receive their residency or citizenship. Falling short on one of the requirements and not qualifying in the end will be an extremely expensive exercise.
The Portuguese golden visa program is definitely one of our favourites. Whether you are applying because you eventually want to live in Portugal, or just because you want the security of having a second passport, Portugal offers many benefits for applicants from access to their great public health system (ranked 12th in the world) and education to sunny skies and beautiful beaches.
We favour the program because of its flexible investment requirements. We always feel that an investment should make sense in its own right, not just because it has an added perk like a tax benefit or a visa in this case. The Portuguese golden visa program offers applicants the ability to gain eventual citizenship for the whole family via investments that make sense with investment limits as low as €350 000 (R6.1 million) in some cases.
Main features of the Portuguese golden visa program
- A five-year process during which time you need to visit Portugal for at least one week a year (or alternatively two weeks every two years after the first year).
- After five years you qualify for permanent residency, and you may also apply for citizenship if required. A very basic language test is required.
- Once you have the temporary residency card (issued about a month after approval), you immediately qualify for free travel access to the 26 Schengen States.
- Investment options range from €350 000 in property through to €1 million in a standard investment like a unit trust – provided it is held via a Portuguese custodian.
- One applicant will cover the individual plus their direct family (spouse, children, parents and parents in law).
While there is a wide variety of investment options that qualify for the visa application ranging from €250 000 into cultural heritage projects through to direct job creation with no financial minimum, the most popular options are property or indirect investment.
A €500 000 investment in property will qualify for the visa application. The property can be held purely for investment purposes or for your personal use. It is important to note that due to the popularity of the coastal areas, investment in Lisbon and Porto will no longer qualify for the visa program from January 1 2022 with the government aiming to shift the focus to inland areas like Madeira and the Azores.
Alternatively, you can choose to invest €1 million in any global investment fund, provided it is held by a Portuguese custodian. This is one of our favourite ways to apply for the visa because this investment would be exactly the same as what we would recommend to any of our high-net-worth clients who are looking to invest offshore.
Best of all – both of these investment options should perform well enough to not only recoup but also exceed all of your costs for the application.
You will need the help of a Portuguese lawyer to assist you with the application. There are many consulting companies that can assist you with this process. As always, we recommend that you get initial quotes from two or three of them and compare the intermediary fees that they charge. Your financial advisor will also be able to refer you to a trusted supplier.
You will be required to obtain a Portuguese tax number, open a bank account and complete several application documents, including confirming that you have medical cover, no criminal record and that your tax affairs are in order in your country of residence.
You will also need to provide proof of the qualifying investment or flow of funds into Portugal. Thereafter, you will need to visit Portugal in order for your biometrics to be collected at the immigration authority.
Once all is in order and the application is approved, you should receive your temporary residence card within a month. Remember that you will then have to visit Portugal for at least a week per year for the duration of the program – we can think of worse holidays!