by Namrata Majithia 31st December 2020
Changes to the Portuguese Golden Visa Programme

Long-anticipated changes to Portugal’s Golden Visa programme were confirmed on Dec 22 2020, as the country’s Council of Ministers approved a change in a decree-law that will see residence investment channelled away from metropolitan and coastal property hotspots such as Lisbon, Porto, as well as away from the entirety of the coast.  Instead investment will be directed to  the less-densely populated interior and autonomous regions of the Azores and Madeira.

The amendments have “the objective of promoting the investment by foreigners into low density regions, especially through urban rehabilitation, cultural heritage, activities of high environmental or social value, productive investment, and job creation,” wrote Lisbon-based attorneys Caiado Guerreiro in an update on its website yesterday.

The changes will, reportedly, only take effect on July 1st2021, and there will be “a transitional period in 2021 and 2022 for the application of such measures progressively,” according to a government statement that did not specify precisely how long into 2022 the transitional period would remain.

Minister of State, Mariana Vieira da Silva, explained that the changes were now warranted because “the context in which that [original ARI] legislation was approved was different” from the current situation.

Emphasizing that already-active ARI visas would not be affected, the Cabinet explained that its reasoning for starting the changes more than six-months in the future was that the “government always made changes that impact the lives of people or companies to take effect on either January 1 or July 1” and that, as January 1st had been considered too near in time, they had picked July 1st.

Caiado Guerreiro pointed out in its dispatch that “it should be noted that, although the final diploma has not yet been released, it is expected that these changes will reinforce the growing trend of investors in search for alternative investment options […]”

“Possibilities will be endless”
Questioned as to the purpose of the transitional period, Patricia Valadas Coriel of Valadas Coriel & Associados explained that because the diploma as yet remained unpublished, few specific details on what it would entail were known. She nonetheless expressed optimism regarding the program’s future:

“The Portuguese Golden Visa proposition will remain strong. There will be other, less expensive investment options. Property prices in the interior are considerably cheaper and fund investment options are becoming increasingly attractive. You will see that the possibilities will be endless; we just need to be creative,” she cheerfully concluded.

Speaking from Lisbon where he is currently spending the Christmas break with his family, Jeremy Savory of Dubai-based Savory & Partners, a goodly proportion of whose clients continue to apply for the Portuguese golden visa, was similarly sanguine about the changes.

“Although the minutiae of the legislation have yet to be laid out, it is welcome news for those potential investors that have been waiting for some clarity,” Savory said. “Now, those Golden Visa investors have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in Lisbon and Porto at attractive prices, especially with the glut of AirBnB rental property that has come back onto the market in 2020.”

Several of the Portuguese immigration law firms with which IMI has been in touch on the matter indicated they preferred to reserve judgement until the details of the diploma had been published.