Portuguese Parliament Rejects Ending Golden Visa Scheme, Socialist Party Calls for ‘Evaluation’

Love 'em or hate 'em, they're here to stay.

The platform for submitting applications for the money-for-residency program is back up, despite opposition from several left parties in Portugal to the scheme, according to Lusa…READ MORE

Golden visas have remained in high demand and have seen a surge of interest from Americans in particular in recent months.

Many applicants have been frustrated as the Portuguese government went through various deliberations on whether to continue the program, which offers a variety of ways to “invest” €250,000 and up in Portugal — primarily by buying property — in return for a residency permit requiring no more than seven days a year in Portugal, which can then be used to obtain citizenship in about five to six years.

A few years ago, the European Union urged member states to drop such schemes because of their purported potential to fuel real estate speculation and launder money. In 2020, Portugal seemed to be at least thinking of putting some of the program to bed.

Related: Golden Visas to End in Lisbon 

In the meantime, a cottage industry arose helping aspirants to Portuguese residency find a way around certain new restrictions.

And then the whole idea of killing the golden visa was pretty much dropped, because, let’s face it, the money has been too good.

Portugal’s golden visas: investment rose in May 94% to €53.8 million | Idealist (PT)  

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

Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras (SEF), the Portuguese border agency, meanwhile, has had some major problems in recent times. A year ago, the Portuguese parliament voted to disband the agency in the wake of the death of a Ukrainian national at the hands of SEF inspectors in Lisbon airport in 2020.

But that too has been pushed back – or, as Diário de Notícias put it in April this year, the government decided to postpone SEF’s “extinction.”

But that hasn’t meant that everything is running smoothly.

For example, Natasha Donn over at the Portugal Resident wrote last week how SEF has been refusing to schedule appointments for renewals of golden vias, and while SEF tells residency holders that it’s totally fine, apparently one golden visa investor has been arrested in Germany for having out-of-date documents.

The vast majority of Portugal’s golden visas — which also offered residency for investing in a business or investment fund, investing in the arts, or hiring a number of local staff by starting a business — have been acquired by buying real estate, with some agencies specifically peddling their offerings as a way to the golden ticket.

Golden visas are also a huge money maker for lawyers and accountants who help applicants with the process. So basically, with the end of the end of the golden visa, everyone wins, although affordable housing advocates and many Portuguese have a thing or two to say about that, as Anita Elash wrote for The World in April.

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