This article is the ultimate 2023 source regarding Portugal’s Golden Visa changes that took place both in September 2023 and in January 2022 and the most recent information on the Portugal Golden Visa.
Latest Portugal Golden Visa News
As of October 2023, there are changes to the investment options of the Portugal Golden Visa. These changes come in the form of the Mais Habitaçāo (More Housing) bill.
The aim of the Mais Habitaçāo bill is to increase Portugal’s supply of rental housing, combat real estate speculation, and restrict rent increases. Since the bill was announced in February 2023, it promised significant changes to the highly successful Golden Visa scheme.
On 7 October 2023, the Mais Habitaçāo bill officially came into effect. The legislation means that, for Golden Visa applicants, real estate will no longer be part of the suite of available investment options.
Simply put, it is no longer possible to make a Golden Visa application with a real estate investment.
To provide some context, earlier this year, on 19 July 2023, the Portuguese parliament voted to restructure the program. The new legislation was planned to bring about changes to the types of investments that qualify for the scheme. Notably, real estate investments were to be made ineligible for the program.
As this law takes effect, the biggest change of the Portuguese Golden Visa Program is that all real estate investment options, whether direct or indirect, will be eliminated. In addition to this, the capital transfer option is also no longer an eligible investment route.
However, other investment routes remain available for those interested in Portugal’s Golden Visa program, which we will provide you with details on in the next section.
Portugal Golden Visa Changes in 2023
On February 16th, the Portuguese government announced a series of measures to address the country’s housing problem. António Costa, the Portuguese Prime Minister, stated that the measures would include changes to the Golden Visa program as part of the said effort.
On 7 October 2023, the Mais Habitaçāo bill came into effect. The bill, which brings in a range of measures aimed at tackling Portugal’s housing crisis, includes changes to the Golden Visa program, ruling out the real estate pathway as a viable investment option.
Golden Visa investment routes: important information
Despite the elimination of real estate investment options, Portugal’s Golden Visa Program continues to exist. The remaining investment options can be found below.
- Venture Capital Fund Investment: Capital transfers of €500,000 or more for participation units in venture capital funds. Keep in mind that investment funds that have direct or indirect real estate investments are no longer an option. Read more here: Portugal Golden Visa Investment Fund Guide
- Investment or donation in the arts or reconstruction of national cultural heritage with a donation of at least €250,000 (Read: Portugal’s Cultural Production Golden Visa)
- Scientific Research: Science or Technology research contribution of at least €500,000
- Creation of ten jobs: Creation and maintenance of ten jobs during the required period
- Share capital and job creation: Incorporation of a company or reinforcement of a company’s share capital, in either case with an investment of €500,000, combined with the creation of five or maintaining ten jobs (5 of them permanent)
Note: The minimum investment amounts for options 2 and 3 may be reduced by 20 percent when the investment activity is carried out in low-density territories, otherwise known as areas with fewer than 100 inhabitants per square kilometer or a GDP per capita of under 75 percent of the national average.
Prior to this, the Assembly of the Republic of Portugal convened on 19 July and gave its approval to the final version of the Mais Habitação bill.
Here, in detail, are the key implications of this legislation are as follows:
- All pending SEF (Foreigners and Borders Service) applications will be evaluated according to the laws in place at the time of their submission
- The minimum stay requirement for maintaining residence permits will remain at an average of seven days per year
- Renewals of residence permits will follow the same initial rules as before
- Family reunions are guaranteed under the same terms as main applications
- Investment routes related to real estate and capital transfer are no longer considered qualifying investments
- The law took effect the day after its official publication
Portugal Golden Visa timeline 2023
Why choose Global Citizen Solutions for your Portuguese Golden Visa?
- Global approach by local experts: A team of experienced local case executives, immigration lawyers, and investment specialists based in Portugal.
- Independent service: We are not a marketing agency for any projects. You will access all eligible routes for the Golden Visa so you can decide on the best option, and your investment will benefit from the legal due diligence services of a reputable Portuguese Law Firm.
- 100% approval rate: We have the unique distinction of never having had a Golden Visa case rejected and have helped hundreds of clients from more than 35 countries.
- All-encompassing solution: Our dedicated onboarding and immigration teams will assist you throughout the process and beyond with a single channel of communication.
- Transparency: Our fees are clear and detailed, covering the entire process with no hidden costs.
- Privacy: Your personal data is stored within a GDPR-compliant database on a secure SSL-encrypted server.
To see the full list of reasons why to work with Global Citizen Solutions for your Portugal Golden Visa, you can find out more here: Why Work with Global Citizen Solutions for Your Golden Visa Portugal Application?
A Backstory: Portugal Golden Visa Changes in 2022
As of 7 October 2023, a new Portuguese law has come into affect in which real estate as well as capital transfers are no longer eligible investment options.
This section is dedicated to the changes that were made in January 2022.
The Portuguese government rolled out new regulations concerning the Portugal Golden Visa. The changes took effect on 1 January 2022. This law restricted the ‘qualifying’ areas for real estate investment within Portugal and made several investment options more expensive.
The government explained these changes were necessary to evenly spread foreign investment to other parts of Portugal. With the Lisbon and Porto real estate market thriving, the government chose to focus its attention on developing the property market in Portugal’s interior areas.
The following changes came into place on 1 January 2022:
Portugal Golden Visa real estate changes in 2022
- Investors cannot invest in residential property in popular urban areas such as Lisbon, Porto, and much of the Algarve, as well as coastal towns like Setúbal and the Silver Coast.
- Applicants can no longer get residential property in major cities such as Lisbon or Porto or in coastal towns of the mainland. Now, you can only buy residential property in designated interior areas of Portugal worth at least €500,000 or €350,000 if investing in a rehabilitation project. If the residential property is located in a designated ‘low-density’ area, then a 20 percent discount applies.
- Investors can purchase commercial property anywhere in the country worth at least €500,000 or €350,000 if investing in a commercial rehabilitation project. If the commercial property is located in a designated ‘low-density’ area, then a 20 percent discount applies.
- Investors can buy residential and commercial property anywhere in Portugal’s autonomous islands of Madeira and Azores, worth at least €500,000 or €350,000 if investing in a rehabilitation project.
Capital transfers changes in 2022
- The capital transfer amount requirement increased from €1 million to €1.5 million.
- The Investment fund minimum subscription requirement increased from €350,000 to €500,000.
- Investment in scientific research increased from €350,000 to €500,000
- Investment into an existing Portugal-registered business increased from €350,000 to €500,000
- An investment into the arts and cultural heritage worth €250,000 stayed the same.
It’s important to note the difference between interior areas and low-density areas. Check out the map below explaining the differences.
*Note that it’s possible for an area to be interior and high-density. In this case, you can purchase a residential property, but no discount applies.*
For a more comprehensive overview of what interior and low-density areas in Portugal qualify for a Golden Visa, check out our guide to the Portugal Golden Visa Low-Density Investment Options.
What were the implications of the Portugal Golden Visa changes in 2022?
While some stakeholders vocalized opposition to the changes, they’re not necessarily seen as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Rather, the Portugal Golden Visa changes were designed to drive investment in Portugal’s interior areas, relieving pressure from metropolitan locations and encouraging foreign investment into other areas of the country.
From 1 January 2022, investors could not buy residential properties in popular urban areas of the country like Lisbon, Porto, and much of the Algarve, as well as in coastal towns like Setúbal and the Silver Coast. Only residential property investments in interior parts of the country qualify (there are no location restrictions on commercial real estate).
In the wake of the changes, alternative investment routes to Portuguese residency have become more popular, namely the investment fund option.
Did the Portugal Golden Visa changes in 2022 impact existing investments in Porto and Lisbon?
If you were in the process of purchasing a property in a thriving urban area, you would not have been impacted by the Portugal Golden Visa updates. However, from 1 January 2022, if you had been interested in purchasing a property in Lisbon, Porto, or parts of the Algarve, you could not buy property and apply for the Golden Visa program.
Following the end of the real estate route, the Portugal investment fund Golden Visa is a very attractive investment route. For a minimum investment of €500,000, you can become a Portuguese resident with the fund investment option.
Portugal Digitalizes Golden Visa Applications
The Portuguese government has also announced that Golden Visa applications will now be digitalized. All documents are to be submitted digitally, including the issuance of the Portuguese individual tax number (NIF). The change will help reduce bureaucracy and create a faster Golden Visa application process.
Portugal Golden Visa: A Brief History
Launched in 2012, the Portugal Golden Visa scheme is one of the most popular residency-by-investment schemes in Europe. The scheme allows investors and their families to obtain residency permits in exchange for a qualifying investment. Since its launch, the Portugal Golden Visa has been a true success, with 11,384 investors and 18,617 family members benefiting from the Golden Visa program.
Portugal Golden Visa statistics show that, in terms of top residency-by-investment programs, Portugal is recognized as offering the best program in the world. The reasons for the program’s success are multiple. Portugal is one of the best European countries for expats due to its outstanding quality of life, excellent weather, and freedom.
While purchasing real estate properties is no longer eligible for the scheme, the Golden Visa program still offers several attractive investment routes suiting various investment goals. Some of the attractive Golden Visa investment routes that remain include investing in venture capital, research, or an existing business.
For more information on Portugal’s Golden Visa scheme, visit our Golden Visa Portugal 2024 Ultimate Guide.
Golden Visa Delays Causing Applicants to Take SEF to Court to Speed Up the Process
As part of the Golden Visa process, applicants need to attend an appointment at SEF to provide the required legal documents and for SEF to collect their biometric data. Once the Golden Visa application is analyzed by SEF and receives the go-ahead, SEF then indicates the dates available to schedule the appointment. The legal provision (Article 105) states that SEF has three months to inform the applicant of their decision and indicate the dates available for the applicant to make an appointment (this can be extended to a further three months in exceptional circumstances).
Golden Visa applications have considerably stalled in the last year. This has created a considerable backlog and long waiting time. In October 2023, Investment Migration Insider reported that Portugal’s €4bn Golden Visa backlog would take until 2030 to finish processing.
The SEF Procedure Manual (in Portuguese) foresees a deadline of 10 to 60 days for the scheduling of the biometrics collection. However, it is unclear as to whether this refers to making the appointment or whether the appointment itself should occur within this time frame. This process of scheduling an appointment is taking much longer, up to 18 months, due to the pandemic, the war in Ukraine (SEF had to process over 60,000 residences in the first half of 2022 for Ukrainian citizens), and the high number of applications for the program.
Many investors have taken cases relating to delays in obtaining a Golden Visa to court to speed up the process, with reports stating that, to date, SEF has lost 18 cases. It is this deadline provided in the law for appointments that the courts have made favorable decisions for foreign investors, whereby the delays in the process are not legal.
You can read more in our article: Portugal Golden Visa Delays Causing Applicants to Take SEF to Court to Speed Up the Process.
How can we help you?
As professionals dedicated to assisting you in acquiring the Portugal Golden Visa, Golden Citizen Solutions will continue to closely monitor any changes as they unfold and keep you updated on the matter.
In the meantime, you can always stay up-to-date on Portugal Immigration Policy 2023 and the latest updates by visiting the Portugal Immigration and Border Service website (SEF).
Frequently Asked Questions About Portugal Golden Visa
Is the Portugal Golden Visa still available?
Yes, the Golden Visa is still available.
The latest information is that, on Saturday 7 October, the Mais Habitaçāo (more housing) bill came into effect, which included significant changes to the Golden Visa program. This means that the real estate and capital transfer options are no longer eligible investment options.
How is the Portugal Golden Visa changing?
The Golden Visa is still available. However, as of legislation passed on 7 October 2023, certain qualifying investments that were once on offer will no longer be qualifying. This includes real estate investments and capital transfer. Instead, interested parties can follow routes into other qualifying investments, such as investment into scientific research and artistic production, job production, and investment into companies
Can you still get a Golden Visa in Portugal?
Yes, you can still get a Golden Visa in Portugal. However, new legislation has been introduced, meaning that real estate investments are no longer eligible.
What are the Portugal Golden Visa changes in 2022?
The biggest Golden Visa changes are related to the real estate and capital transfer investment options. The latest information is that, on 7 October, the Mais Habitaçāo (More Housing) bill came into effect, which included significant changes to the Golden Visa program. This means that the real estate and capital transfer options are no longer eligible investment options.
What do the Portugal Golden Visa new rules mean for my investment options?
New legislation passed on 7 October 2023 means that real estate and capital transfer investments are no longer eligible investment options for the Golden Visa.
Will the Portugal Golden Visa program be canceled?
No. The Golden Visa is still available. New legislation has passed meaning that real estate and capital transfer investments are no longer eligible for the Golden Visa.
Does Portugal's Golden Visa lead to citizenship?
While the Portuguese Golden Visa program is a residency-by-investment scheme, it is possible to secure Portuguese citizenship and permanent residency. You must hold your investment for five years and apply for permanent residency and Portuguese citizenship.
What are the Portugal Golden Visa real estate changes?
Certain investment types, such as real estate acquisition, will no longer be eligible to apply for the Portuguese Golden Visa. Other types, such as fund investments, will continue to exist.