Published on 21st March 2019
As the first batch of golden visa holders completing their five years of residence in Portugal have started to trickle through, reports confirm that the investors are obtaining not only permanent residence (PR) permits but also citizenships after physically residing for just 35 days in the country.
A great deal of uncertainty has always surrounded the question of whether participants in Portugal’s golden visa program would in the end, after holding the temporary golden visa for 5 years, qualify for permanent residence status and citizenship.
Small change, big impact
The rules stipulate that to obtain permanent residence, an individual must have been legally resident in the country for five consecutive years. Until recently, only those who had held PR for at least a year could apply for citizenship, which meant an investor would have to wait until year six to apply.
This rule, however, changed in July as Portuguese lawmakers amended the country’s nationality law to permit anyone who had been legally resident for five years to apply for naturalization.
From temporary residency to permanent residency
Tangible examples are now confirming that participants in Portugal’s golden visa program are not only receiving permanent residence permits and qualifying for citizenships, but they’re also doing so after having spent as little as 35 days in the country during the last five years.
Speaking to Investment Migration Insider, João Cunha Vaz, a Senior Partner at EDGE International Lawyers based in Lisbon, attests to the favourable development.
“The reality is that at this stage we already have several clients who have transitioned their temporary residencies into permanent residencies, having complied with the minimum stay requirements applicable to the Golden Visa,” Cunha Vaz explains.
“This is absolutely real and, with the recent change in the law enabling an applicant to request citizenship after five years of residency, we are now starting to have the first Golden Visa residents applying for citizenship,” he adds. Vaz is also careful to point out that basic proficiency in Portuguese remains an inflexible criterion for naturalization.
Once the initial five years of holding a golden visa are complete, applicants will also have the option to free themselves of physical residence requirements altogether.
“There is also a new category of permanent residency recently created that allows for an applicant to obtain permanent residency without then having to abide by any minimum stay requirements in Portugal. This is given to the applicant for five years (renewable every five years) and does not impose any minimum stay requirements,” notes Cunha Vaz. The investment migration industry could not have hoped for a better outcome of the long-pending suspense. Golden visa practitioners and applicants – present and prospective buyers – will be relieved that the uncertainty of a different interpretation of the law no longer looms.
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