The Portugal Golden Visa is one of the most popular residency-by-investment programs in the world. The scheme has welcomed 10,636 investors (and 17,614 family members) to Portugal, since its inception in 2012. However, in recent times there have been some Portugal Golden Visa delays, due to a wide range of factors.

In this Portugal Golden Visa delays article, we cover the following:

  • Program operating status of the Portugal Golden Visa
  • Portugal’s Golden Visa Program 2023 changes
  • Latest COVID-19 information
  • Benefits of having a second residency or citizenship through this investment program
  • Portugal Golden Visa delays and the current situation
  • Positive changes to the Portugal golden visa timeline
  • How we can help you today

Portuguese Golden Visa Delays - Program Operation Status

  • Portugal’s Golden Visa program is operating as usual. 
  • The application, including NIF (tax number) issuance, the initial SEF application, the opening of a bank account, and Notary, are open as usual.
  • Face-to-face interviews for biometrics are running as usual, but you must book an appointment beforehand. However, you should expect some delays, which we shall cover in more detail below. 
  • All documents related to the Portugal Golden Visa application are now submitted online. After the request is approved, you must appear in person for a biometric interview.

With regards to the Golden Visa Portugal, it is business as usual, and biometrics operations have been up and running again since July 2020.

Portugal Golden Visa Delays and the Current Situation

As previously mentioned, there have been some Golden Visa delays with the processing of visas. This is due to an unfortunate series of events, including the COVID-19 pandemic, general elections, and a restructuring of the SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) department – the department responsible for processing Golden Visas – and, most recently, the Ukrainian war. As of 13 June 2022, however, it appears that SEF has resumed accepting new Portugal Golden Visa applications.

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.

Recent Golden Visa changes

There have also been recent changes to the Golden Visa program. As of October 2023, direct and indirect real estate investment and capital transfer can no longer be qualifying investments as part of the program.

However, several attractive investments, such as venture capital fund investment and cultural and artistic donations, still qualify for the Golden Visa process. Below are the remaining investments that are eligible for the Golden Visa in Portugal:

  • Fund subscription: Make a contribution to a qualified investment fund (such as private equity funds or venture capital funds) worth at least €500,000
  • Investment or donation in the arts or reconstruction of national cultural heritage with a donation of at least €250,000
  • 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 commercial company in the national territory or reinforcement of a company’s share capital (this company must have its head office in the national territory), in either case with an investment of €500,000, combined with the creation of five or maintaining ten jobs (five of them permanent)

Take a look at our Portugal Golden Visa Ultimate Guide by local experts

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Positive News for Golden Visa Investors

SEF was replaced by AIMA

The Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) was extinguished on October 29th. SEF, the agency responsible for managing foreign documents, was replaced by the Agency for Integration, Migration, and Asylum (AIMA).

This change aims to streamline immigration services in Portugal, address longstanding backlogs, and create a more efficient system for both residents and foreign nationals seeking services.

AIMA is tasked with managing all matters concerning foreign documents, residence permits, and visa renewals in Portugal.

It’s expected that this move will make the Golden Visa process more efficient for foreign investors from now on.

Changes in the Portuguese Nationality Law 2024

On 5 January 2024, the Portuguese parliament announced significant changes to its nationality law. These changes bring relief to thousands of applicants who have been affected by delays in residency application processing by AIMA (previously SEF).

Previously, individuals looking to secure Portuguese nationality through naturalization were required to hold residency in Portugal for a minimum period of five years, alongside other requirements. This five-year period began once the initial residency permit was issued.

This new legislation states that the time between the submission of the temporary residency permit and its final approval is included when calculating the required legal residency period for nationality as long as the residency permit is granted.

The recent changes to Portugal’s nationality law are a welcome relief for foreign investors who have applied for or obtained Portuguese residency. Previously, Golden Visa applicants faced the stringent requirement of a minimum five-year residency period commencing from the issuance of the initial residency permit. This often translated to lengthy waiting times, with candidates enduring delays attributed to processing backlogs at the former SEF.

Now, individuals looking to apply for Portuguese residency in 2024 can anticipate fulfilling the five-year residency requirement for citizenship by 2029, regardless of potential delays in the processing of their residency applications.

This change is a key step towards enhancing the overall experience of those seeking to move to Portugal or those looking to secure Portuguese citizenship by naturalization.

Benefits of Having Second Residency or Citizenship

Citizenship or residency by investment gives people the freedom of choice to start over in a new country and build a future for themselves and their families. It further protects one’s personal, professional, and financial interests. People of all different non-EU nationalities can apply for the program. As of September 2023, there have been a total of 12,718 Portugal Golden Visa investors, according to our Golden Visa Statistics article.

There are numerous advantages to holding a residence permit or citizenship of an EU country, and being able to operate and reside in another country abroad.

Portugal Golden Visa investors also have the opportunity to put their money into a qualifying investment. These include local heritage projects, into scientific research, or into an investment fund.

An investment fund is a type of financial product that collects investors’ money and invests it in certain assets to increase capital. See our full guide here for more information.

These benefits include:

Freedom of travel, with visa-free restrictions in 100+ countries

Fiscal and asset protection back-up-plan

Tax residency

Optimal social systems such as school and healthcare

How We Can Help You Today

We understand that everyone is feeling the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether directly or indirectly. With all travel and relocation plans only beginning to open up again recently, our way of living and social norms are being challenged.

Whether the Portuguese Golden Visa, the Spain Golden Visa program, or another scheme, we understand that it can be a time-consuming affair as well as a stressful experience to reach a big decision like applying for residency in a foreign country. But in the face of this global pandemic, with many international borders shut to foreigners, time now is of the essence.

As consultants in investment migration, we can help you apply for several residency-by-investment programs. Our step-by-step strategy, tailor-made to each unique client, means we are there for you every step of the way.

For further information or to discuss your personal circumstances in a private consultation, please book a call with a Global Citizen Solutions expert or get in touch with us by filling out the form below.

Frequently asked questions about Coronavirus and Portugal Golden Visa

How has COVID-19 impacted applications for the Portugal Golden Visa?

Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Portuguese government and SEF have continued to run the Portugal Golden Visa program, accepting applications on a rolling basis. The only difference is that applications are now digital, including the issuance of a Portuguese Tax File Number (NIF).

What are the rules for travelers transiting in Portugal?

As long as you don’t leave the airport space, you can move around freely and don’t need to present a COVID-19 test.

I live outside of Portugal and have taken two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Do I still have to present a negative test when entering Portugal?

At present, it is best to check with your country of origin. However, you can travel to Portugal from many countries at present without the need to show a negative COVID-19 test.

How can I stay on top of travel updates related to the Portugal Golden Visa?

For the latest travel updates related to entering Portugal, please consult the Portugal SEF page.

What is the 2023 update on Covid-19 in Portugal?

Like other European union countries, Portugal experienced travel restrictions when it came to the breakout and continuation of the Covid-19 virus in 2020 and 2021.

Most European countries including mainland Portugal and offshore regions have removed their restrictions. You do not need a Covid-19 test result to enter or visit Portugal and there are no travel restrictions. Mask wearing may be necessary in some public places.

What other visas are available for moving to Portugal?

There are numerous other pathways in Portugal for those who live outside the European Union countries looking to relocate, outside of the Portugal golden visa program.

  • The D8 Digital Nomad Visa is the visa choice for those doing remote work and want to set their movable desk up in Portugal.
  • The D7 Passive Income Visa is ideal for those planning to stay for up to two years. However, you must provide proof of passive income and are not actively working to earn a living.
  • The D2 Entrepreneur visa caters to individuals intending to establish or acquire a business in Portugal

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