Portugal To End Golden Visas, For Real This Time, Seriously

Is this the end of the program that brought Portugal €6.8 billion in "investment" since 2012? Place your bets.

UPDATE FEB. 17: Portugal ends Golden Visas, curtails Airbnb rentals to address housing crisis

Ending the highly lucrative program is one of the measures reportedly on the agenda of this Thursday’s Council of Ministers, as part of a broader effort to deal with the country’s increasingly devastating housing crisis, according to Expresso.

Or, as Portugal Resident’s Natasha Donn put it, “In the way that so many policy changes are first presented through the press, Portugal’s government is gearing up to approve sweeping changes to promote the national housing market next week,” including ending the golden visa program.

The program, which grants Portuguese residency — and a five-year path to citizenship — through investments in property, capital transfers, or job creation, has brought €654.2 million in investment in 2022, or almost 42% more than in 2021.

In its 10-year history, the program resulted in €6.8 billion in investment, according to SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras, aka the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service, aka an agency that itself was supposed to be disbanded in 2021 but clearly wasn’t, as it’s still at least putting out reports, even if it’s not processing golden visa renewals quite as well.

Of the 11,628 residency permits granted in total since 2012, 10,668 of the permits granted were for “real estate property purchasing,” as SEF puts it, and 938 were for capital transfers.

Job creation residency permits accounted for 22 of the total, or roughly 0.2%, for the unfortunate readers interested in the overall effect of the program on the Portuguese economy.

The golden visa program has attracted plenty of criticism, ranging from affordable housing advocates’ claims that it spurs real estate speculation — foreign buyers in Portugal, it turns out, on average paid 57% more per square meter in the second quarter last year — to accusations that golden visa schemes in general promote corruption and money-laundering.

And while Portugal’s golden visa program is touted to wealthy investors by enterprising middlemen and -women as a simple and efficient process, foreigners who have embarked on it haven’t always been ecstatic:

For example, Meet the retiree who spent $1.5 million to get a ‘golden visa’ in Portugal, but is still waiting on it a year later.

But the program has been notoriously hard to kill, for obvious reasons:

from October 2020: Golden Visas to End in Lisbon 

from December the same year: Golden Visa Residency Seekers Get More Time to Buy in Lisbon and Porto 

from February 2021: Portugal’s Golden Visa Restrictions Pushed Back to 2022 — Lisbon and Porto Are Still for Sale

from last June: Portuguese Parliament Rejects Ending Golden Visa Scheme, Socialist Party Calls for ‘Evaluation’ 

Four months ago, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa sent another “It’s the End!” signal about the golden visa:

Portugal likely to scrap much-criticized ‘golden visa’ scheme, PM says

Anyone interested in a wager about the next headline?

On Key

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