I have decided to write to you regarding the Portuguese Golden Visa program and the intended changes the government have now decided to make.
As you may be aware the Portuguese government decided to change the Golden Visa program in Portugal on the 22nd of December 2020, the changes will come in to effect at various points this year and up to this moment, the terms that were agreed have not yet been published.
I have spoken with several legal teams and they are of the same opinion that to speculate would be wrong as this was a very late decision by the government and the details of it have not yet been discussed by the relevant parties within Government.
What Do We Know
What we know for certain is that from the 1st of July 2021 the visa will change from it’s current format and over the following 6 months until Jan 1st 2022 it will increase in price and the areas for which you can invest will change dramatically, we understand that parliament has made it clear they no longer want to allow Visas in both Lisbon and Porto, so between July 2021 and Jan 2022 these areas will cease to be a viable option for the Golden Visa, currently we don’t know if they will stop investment immediately in July 2021 or if they will gradually phase the main cities out, what parliament also declared is that the visa would be allowed to be purchased for interior and Autonomous regions moving forward, this means that along with the 2 major cities all coastal areas would also be excluded from the program, although this is still a grey area due to the fact that the government still haven’t concluded what is classed as interior, we can speculate that it means no coastal areas in mainland Portugal. However, as I said previously we are talking in facts and not speculation so this is also still to be decided.
What we also know is that the price will increase for each visa, I have again seen a lot of speculation online and from various agencies as to how much the Golden Visa threshold will increase by, but again it’s just speculation, the government have not released in any capacity their intentions regarding how this will be done or the amounts the program will increase by.
Having worked in Portugal since 2005 I have seen the government make last-minute decisions many times without thinking them through, then they spend the next 6 months deliberating how to achieve them.
This is another prime example of this and unfortunately, it leaves us all questioning and guessing what will happen and when, it also opens you up to a lot of false information from companies that decide to guess what the new rules may be, I urge you to stick to the facts that have been released and to not panic over emails and adverts that are designed to make you panic.
What to do next
The path here is simple, if you want to invest in order to qualify for the Golden Visa in Portugal then my advice is to do it before June this year, that will then leave sufficient time for you to submit your application before the July 2021 date, if you are from a country where Criminal Records or marriage certificates are difficult to obtain then my advice would be to make your investment much earlier, likewise for any nationalities that feel they would need extra compliance for a bank account. Typically bank accounts here take 2 weeks to open but for some nationals it can take up to 6 weeks so please take this in to account when thinking about timing and beating the deadline.
“What if I wait until after June 2021?”
Almost certain the visa will increase in price from this point, I’m not sure if there will be area changes immediately after but I’m very confident that the first change the government will bring in to law is the increased price for the visa, you will then also be running a risk of not having the choice as to where you invest.
“What if I wait until after Jan 2022?”
Then you will almost certainly have to invest in one of Portugal’s interior regions at an increased price, the investment aspect of the Visa will not be as attractive as previous and your exit strategy will be much more difficult for us to predict, however, the program will still be a viable option and will continue to offer you the opportunity to live and work in Portugal along with having freedom of travel across the Schengen zone, Citizenship will also still be possible after 5 years.
The visa, in general, will take 6 months plus to obtain from the moment you start your application, there are lots of factors that can speed up or slow down your process and they can alter your timelines significantly, such as, how long you take to visit Portugal for biometrics, which SEF office you use and how quickly they assess your documents, believe it or not choosing the right SEF office can save you several months.
If you are planning on obtaining a Golden Visa in Portugal and don’t mind the area you invest in then the program will be running for several more years to come and you don’t need to rush, if your intention is to invest in either Lisbon or Porto then you need to act quickly, the property options for the 350k visa are becoming limited and the timelines to purchase are now longer due to the pandemic and making your investment remotely, to be safe I feel that you should have your property chosen by the end of April, this then gives us time to open bank accounts and get everything processed before the 1st of July deadline.
I will keep you all updated each and every time we have more information from the government, please try to ignore speculation as it serves no purpose, I think with the government making such a late decision to change the visa in December, despite everyone being convinced it will not happen, only proves that we can’t predict what they will do.
If you have any further questions regarding the Visa or investing in Portugal please feel free to contact one of my team who will be happy to help, I wish you all a belated Happy New Year and wish you the best of success for 2021.
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