Golden Visas/Citizenship by Investment Programmes

Many countries offer residence and citizenship via investment, whereby an investor invests funds into specified fields and they thus acquire immigration status in that country. Such schemes are often referred to as “golden visas”. Countries that offer schemes like this do so because they want to encourage inward investment and economic stimulation.

One of the most popular of these schemes is the Portuguese “Golden Visa” programme. This is a scheme which offers to successful applicants both a Portuguese residency visa and a Schengen visa.

The Portuguese residency visa is issued for an initial period of one year and after that it is extendable in two-year periods. It permits the visa holder and their family members to live in Portugal for the relevant visa period without any further immigration permission. After five years the visa holders – assuming that the investment has been maintained – may be able to apply for permanent residence in Portugal (ie the right to live there indefinitely) and after one further year they may be able to apply for Portuguese citizenship.

The residency visa entitles the holder to stay in Portugal for an unlimited maximum number of days per year – they can stay there for 100 per cent of the time if they wish. And there are only very small limits on the minimum time they must spend in Portugal: at least seven days per year during the first year and at least 14 days per two-year period subsequently (ie an average of seven days per year over two years).

The Schengen visa entitles the visa holder to travel throughout the Schengen area, which includes most countries in Western Europe and some in Eastern Europe.

So the Portuguese Golden Visa holder is able to live in Portugal without restriction and is also able to travel easily throughout much of Europe.

There are various different options for the investment for the Golden Visa: the investment can be in funds, in property or in job creation. If the investment is in funds the required amount of investment is between 250,000 Euros and 1,000,000 Euros, depending on the type of investment. If the investment is in “artistic and cultural activities” the amount of investment need be only at least 250,000 Euros; if it is in “research activities” it needs to be at least 350,000 Euros; if it is for capitalisation of small and medium-sized companies it needs to be at least 500,000 Euros; otherwise it needs to be at least 1,000,000 Euros.

If the investment is in property which is more than 30 years old or is located in an area of urban renovation the investments needs to be at least 350,000 Euros; otherwise it needs to be at least 500,000 Euros.

If the investment is in job creation the investment only needs to create at least ten jobs in Portugal; there is no set financial amount.

So the Portuguese Golden Visa scheme is a relatively simple and very flexible one, and the amount of investment required is lower than that required by many other countries for such schemes. It is not therefore surprising that it is one of the most popular of such schemes.