Portugal Golden Visa Ending? The Full Lowdown (September 2023)

Portugal golden visa ending

Amid the recent media frenzy full of misinformation, many people are asking: is the Portugal Golden Visa ending?

As of today (August 29, 2023), the answer is no. The Golden Visa program is not ending.

In fact, Portugal’s flagship residency by investment program hasn’t changed at all. You can still invest and apply under exactly the same rules as this time last year, before the frenzy began.

But where did this frenzy come from in the first place? Let’s explore events over the last few months that have created this situation around the Golden Visa.

In late 2022, Portugal’s leadership called for a “reevaluation” of the Golden Visa program, claiming it had “served its purpose”.

After several months of silence, a sudden announcement on February 16, 2023 took everyone by surprise.

On that date, Portugal’s government announced its intention to end the Golden Visa program.

This came hot on the heels of another unexpected shutdown: Ireland’s immigrant investor program.

The most controversial part of the announcement was the government’s suggestion that it would change future rules for investors already committed to the program.

For example, they originally wanted to remove the 7-day physical stay requirement and compel investors to live full time in Portugal (or rent out their properties).

This caused a great deal of disturbance in the media, plus understandable outrage among those already invested in the program.

The proposed changes also caused upheaval across the Portuguese political landscape, particularly in Madeira, where the government wanted to keep the Golden Visa program exactly the same as it always has been.

The President of Madeira, Miguel Alberquerque, said he would oppose any changes to the program.

That was logical, as the Golden Visa program in Madeira had already brought a great deal of foreign investment to the island – primarily in the real estate route.

Fortunately, the national government decided to relent on the more drastic changes to the program. Instead, it promised to safeguard the rights of investors who had already committed to the Golden Visa program and to Portugal.

This was a wise move, protecting not just investors but also Portugal’s own reputation (letting down foreigners who have invested hundreds of thousands of euros in the country isn’t a great look).

Eventually, lawmakers put together a draft bill which started making its way through the Portuguese parliamentary process.

The draft bill’s main focus was on removing real estate as a Golden Visa investment option – aiming to improve the countrywide housing crisis.

The bill was debated in Parliament and finally emerged in its ‘almost-final’ form – which was an almost total turnaround.

It now looked like the government would keep the Golden Visa, but with several major changes.

As of June, the Golden Visa program changes included the following:

  • Removal of all real estate routes from the program
  • Removal of the €1,500,000 capital transfer route from the program
  • The investment fund route would stay (with the exception of real-estate focused funds)
  • The routes for 1) cultural production, and 2) opening a Portuguese company would remain in place

At this stage, we all thought this would be Portugal’s Golden Visa in its final, changed format.

But that was not to be.

On August 21, the President of Portugal, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, rejected the bill in its current form.

President De Sousa sent it back to Parliament for further modifications.

The nature of these are still unknown at the time of writing.

In terms of timelines, lawyers and political experts estimate this part of the process will take another one or two months.

We spoke with immigration lawyer Inês Almeida, from Lisbon-based law firm Leal Figueiredo & Associados. She said:

“The Portuguese parliament is currently on its summer holidays, so it’s not until it returns in September that the bill vetoed by the president of the republic is expected to be voted on by the assembly.

This means that if Parliament approves it – given the PS majority – the real estate option will no longer be possible or viable and investors will have to choose other options, including:

  • the creation of at least ten jobs in the local market
  • investment of 500,000 euros for research activities by public or private institutions
  • investment of 250,000 euros for artistic or cultural projects. It should be noted that if these investments are made in low-density territories, they may be subject to a 20 per cent reduction.
  • acquisitions of 500,000 euros of holdings in non-real estate investments.”

Based on this information, that means there’s still a window of opportunity for foreign investors willing to act fast to secure the Golden Visa under current program rules.

So as of today, is the Portugal Golden Visa ending?

The answer is no, the Portugal Golden Visa is not ending – yet.

The program remains fully open in its original form, with all investment routes still available.

That includes real estate, hotel investment, investment funds, capital transfer and cultural production (investing in Portuguese films).

But realistically, the era of EU residency by investment is likely coming to a close.

The Portugal Golden Visa may be your last opportunity to secure a fast pathway to EU citizenship – without having to relocate full time to Portugal.

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