Recently, the independent news Portuguese website Fumaça elaborated a news piece about Europe’s latest migration surge. Fumaça tried to draw a general picture of the immigration subject, showing this phenomenon from all sides possible. During the making of this piece, the journalists interviewed several personalities involved in the migration services, such as present and former ministers, secretaries of state, ONG leaders and Golden Visa advisors. From the Mediterranean illegal and unsafe refugee transports to the highly qualified and secure Golden Visas, Fumaça tried to get everyone’s viewpoints.
When the publication’s invitation to interview one of Portugal Homes’ co-founders arrived, David Poston gladly accepted to discuss the Golden Visa Residency and Citizenship programs and walk through every step of the application, providing guidance and expertise for every key client's specifications.
The Portuguese Golden Visa program’s creation
Since the law that allowed the creation of the Golden Visas was approved in 2012, it is possible to gain residency permits through real estate investment activities. In the middle of the Portuguese financial crisis, this law allowed and simplified foreign private real estate investment in the country.
The Golden Visa program has suffered some changes since its inception. In 2012 it was much more restricted and, through time, it has broadened the investment options to accommodate more types of real estate investment.
One of the most important features of the Portuguese Golden Visa program is its openness to include the investor’s family members. In one of our recent articles, it is possible to see that this is a very important factor because citizenship was given to 7 885 main applicants and 13 364 dependents. The number of Golden Visas issued to family members almost doubled the ones given to the main investors.
Portugal Homes’ part as investment advisors for the Golden Visa
Portugal Homes is a real estate agency specialized in the golden visa investment market, where most of its clients come from overseas. The company’s team, based in Lisbon, takes care of all the client’s processes and obligations in order to acquire his/her residency permit. The company travels to the investors country of origin, brings them to Portugal, organizes visits to the best properties for the client’s needs, introduces the client to law firms and, after the investment is done, the company can also help in the property’s refurbishment and furnishing, as well as assuring the client’s fiscal representation in Portugal.
The Golden Visa acquisition process through Real Estate investment process is simple: firstly, the investor must open a bank account in a Portuguese bank, acquire the property or make the real estate investment and then submit the request for residency online, through SEF’s (Portuguese Foreigners and Borders Service) online platform, together with the investor’s birth certificate and criminal records. If the client wishes to include his/her family members, it will need to deliver all their documentation for each family member.
David Poston warns that it can be a long process for the investor
“Since the online application, it is normally 30 days until the investor gets a response from SEF” adds David Poston. “If all documentation is accepted and everything is right, they will be invited to return to Portugal to do biometric tests.”
Most Golden Visa investors don’t wait in Portugal for their residency permit. They come back to their countries of origin and only travel back to Portugal when SEF schedules their biometric tests.
David Poston clarifies that “From that point on, it depends. If everything goes well with the biometric tests in Lisbon, it takes up to 6 or 7 months until you get the temporary visa. If you go to the Algarve or Porto, it’s only three months, it’s much quicker.” And continues to shed light on more details with dealing with SEF - “It’s very hard. They make stuff much harder than it could be. Much harder than in other European Union countries. The investor makes his/her investment, does all the Portuguese government asks of them, delivers all documents and then they wait twelve to fifteen months to get approval for their visa.”
From the moment the process ends, the investor receives a residency permit valid for 1 year, renewable for two more times every two years each. For each renewal it is necessary that the investor maintains its previously stated conditions - Conditions such as a clean criminal record, for instance - and that it stays 7 days per year in Portugal. At the end of the 5th year, the temporary residence permit can become a permanent one and the applicant is now able to apply for the Portuguese nationality.
The Golden Visa program is available in several European countries, like Malta, Bulgaria, and Cyprus. However, David Poston considers the Portuguese one to be the best. “In my opinion, the Portuguese program is easier and simpler. You can invest €500k or the reduced €350k option. The criminal records of the applicants are extensively verified to assure that the applicant is safe, but after that, you only have to spend 7 days in Portugal per year with a five-year visa. It’s not a rapid solution like you have in Malta or Cyprus, but, for me, it is a better Golden Visa Program in general terms.”
The Portuguese authorities and entities are thorough but it’s worth it
Portugal is one of the countries more concerned with safety when it comes to Visas. “I think that the way Portugal verifies the criminal records of the visa applicants doesn’t invite many criminals to try their luck here. There are other countries where it is much easier to go around some things. Here in Portugal it is very direct, you either comply or you don’t. There is a lot of demand from the banks as well, they want to know where your money is coming from and how it was made. It is hard. However, these institutions must also be careful with the amount of obstacles they put in the process because the more obstacles they create the applicants to go somewhere else. From what I understand, the reason for creating the Golden Visa program here in Portugal was to bring high-value individuals to this country, to help in the austerity period, bringing money.”
Despite the long and thorough process, David concludes that the Portuguese golden visa is worth the wait - “And the Portuguese citizenship is one of the best to have in the world because Portugal hasn’t been involved in any armed conflicts recently, there are no terrorist threats over the country, Portugal wasn’t in World War II. It’s a neutral, safe and welcoming country.”
“Portugal is a very beautiful country. I can see myself living there.”
Paolo Borromeo is one of David Poston’s, and Portugal Homes’, Golden Visa clients. He comes from Manila, Philippines, where he lives with his wife and two daughters. He is the President and CEO of Ayala Healthcare Holdings, a private health services company. Paolo remembers when one day he found an article about the Portuguese Golden Visa and commented with his wife “This is perfect!”. At first, Paolo and his wife laughed at the idea. But Paolo’s grandfather was originally Portuguese and lived in Macau when Macau was Portuguese territory. “So, this would be like returning to my origins, right?” - the idea stuck in their heads.
During one of our travels in 2017, Paolo contacted David Poston to try to understand better the Portuguese Golden Visa program. “I and my wife fell in love with everything in Lisbon. We love that it’s a city where you can walk everywhere, people are very friendly, and fluent in English. I was fascinated with everything, how the city blended the old with the new, it was just beautiful.”
The decision to invest was very quick and easy. David’s experience with Golden Visas and the Portuguese Real Estate market were key to making the final decision and that same October Paolo invested in an apartment in central Lisbon to start his Golden Visa process that would later give him the residency permit in Portugal.
Paolo says “My main reason for investing in the Golden Visa is because I have two children. I always believed it was good to create the most chances possible for them. When I say options I mean it is easier for them to travel around the world with a Portuguese passport than with a Filippino passport. And, at the same time, Portugal is an extremely beautiful place. How can I say this?... I can see myself living there and doing things there.” Paolo’s idea for the future is that he and his family can all move to Portugal. “I don’t see my first acquisition as an investment, the apartment is for my family, for when we move here.” But later, Paolo made a real estate investment with Portugal Homes, when he bought a building in Bairro Alto that is now under construction.
About Portugal Homes
PortugalHomes.com specializes in investments through Real Estate and Golden Visa. We help buyers find the right property overseas, whether it be for Golden Visa, NHR, Investment or simply a place in the sun. Our properties are selected with great thought in mind to give our clients the best opportunities. We offer the complete service from introducing them to the Legal Representatives, Currency Exchange, Mortgage Advisors, Property Management, Rental and Furniture Packages along with making sure all our staff are trained to fully understand the buying process and taxes for every scenario. Portugal Homes provides the complete service to anyone looking to buy a new or resale property overseas for holiday use or as a short or long-term investment.
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