The Golden Visa in Portugal

The Golden Visa program in Portugal makes your dream of living in Europe true. Great weather, affordability, friendly people, and a welcoming atmosphere are all key factors on why the country is a top destination for expats. Come find out how to get a Golden Visa for yourself in a hassle-free way with Pearls of Portugal.

Start a New Life With the Portugal Golden Visa Program

Using the Portugal Golden Visa Program (ARI) is one of the fastest and safest ways to move to Portugal for non-asylum seekers outside of Europe. You’ll have to invest a minimum of 250,000 EUR for a Portugal residence permit, which allows you to live, work, and enjoy free movement within the Schengen area. 

If you’re not familiar with the country, check out our list of why living in Portugal as an expat is so appealing: 

  • Low cost of living in Portugal vs. USA and other Western countries
  • A liberal political climate
  • High security and stability
  • Affordable education for children
  • Affordable housing market
  • Easier travel opportunities 
  • A welcoming culture toward the LGBTQ community

Golden Visa Program Changes – 2023

Back in March, the Portuguese government announced that the Golden Visa program would end. However, the final set of measures, approved on July 19th, allows the Golden Visa to remain active under certain conditions. No real estate options are eligible, either through direct or indirect investment. But there’s an extension of the option related to investment funds to “collective investment entities” whose purpose is the capitalization of companies.

Conditions under which you can still get a Golden Visa in 2023

As stated, there are some types of investments that will continue to have access to a residence in Portugal.

  • Those who create at least ten jobs in Portugal
  • Investments of more than 500.000 euros that create or reinforce the share capital of a commercial company headquartered in Portugal and that, as a consequence, generate at least five jobs or ensure the maintenance of at least ten, with a minimum of five permanent employees, and for a minimum period of three years
  • Investments equal to or greater than 500.000 euros, that are applied in scientific research led by a public or private institution that’s officially recognized by the Portuguese Scientific and Technological System

  • Capital transfers equal to or greater than 250.000 euros, applied in the artistic production, recovery, and/or maintenance of national cultural heritage through public institutes, foundations or associations, local business entities and services associated with the government 

  • Investments equal to or greater than 500.000 euros, intended for the acquisition of shares in non-real estate collective investment entities, that must be at least five years old and have 60% of investments materialized in companies with Portuguese headquarters

The minimum amount or quantitative requirement of the investment activity stated for some options may be lower by 20%, when the activity is carried out in low-density regions. The investment activities cannot be used, directly or indirectly, for real estate investment.  According to the proposal, these investment activities will be evaluated every two years with regard to their impact on scientific and cultural activity in Portugal, and this analysis will decide their future maintenance.

Note that you can not get a bank loan or mortgage in Portugal. You have to prove that you bring the capital 100% to Portugal. However, you can apply for a mortgage in your own country. The money transfer to Portugal also must come from accounts in your name – You cannot transfer money or make purchases from other people’s or company accounts.

A set of competent authorities  verify the suitability of the investment to the respective entrepreneurial project namely:

  • The Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade of Portugal, E. P. E.;
  • Banco de Fomento;
  • Agência para a Competitividade e Inovação, I. P.;
  • Agência Nacional de Inovação (ANI);
  • Gabinete de Estratégia, Planeamento e Avaliação Culturais (GEPAC);
  • Others that may be appropriate according to the matter.
Frederik Pohl, CEO

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Benefits of the Golden Visa Program in Portugal

  • Registration in the Schengen Area Central System, which will allow you to enter 26 European countries without the need for an additional visa after your application has been approved by the SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras)
  • After five years, you can apply for Portuguese citizenship
  • Certain dependent family members can also get Portuguese residency
  • Access to free Portuguese healthcare and a high-quality European education system
  • You’ll be a resident in one of the safest countries in the world
  • Having a second passport allows you flexibility and the possibility to leave your home country whenever necessary
  • No necessity to live year-round in Portugal to get a visa or citizenship
  • Option to become a non-habitual resident of Portugal and pay little or no tax for 10 years. GV holders automatically qualify for the Portuguese Non-Habitual Tax Regime (NHR). For this, you must stay in the country for more than 183 days, consecutive or not, in any 12-month period beginning or ending in a given tax year and register as a taxed resident.

What are the requirements for a Golden Visa in Portugal? 

Any legal adult with a clean criminal record who is not a citizen of the EU, EEA, or Switzerland can apply for the Golden Visa. Here is an overview of all the requirements:

  • Be over 18 years old
  • Clean criminal record
  • Investment period of at least 5 years 
  • No previous refusal to a visa application or to enter the EU
  • Sufficient medical insurance if you decide to stay in Portugal
  • Anyone who applies for the Golden Visa must spend a minimum of 7 days in the country in the first year, and 14 days in the subsequent years

Currently, applications coming from Iranian citizens are suspended. SEF’s (Serviços de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) reasons for not accepting these applications were not made public. In addition, the Portuguese embassy in Pakistan is currently closed.

Can the Golden Visa Program Extend to My Family Members?

Yes, the Golden Visa is extendable. Here’s who can qualify: 

  • A spouse or legal partner
  • Children under 18 years
  • Dependent children under 26 years, provided they are unmarried and are full-time students, in which case they will also have access to the European education system
  • Parents of either spouse over the age of 66 or 55 if proven dependent
  • Siblings under the age of 18, from either spouse/ partner, if legally responsible

How We Can Help You Find the Right Property in Portugal 

After getting your Golden Visa, you must find residence in Portugal. Luckily, when you choose to work with Pearls of Portugal, we help you find the right area and the perfect property for you. Take a look at our buyer’s agent service and research our real estate offers on the Pearls of Portugal marketplace!

Restructure of the SEF (Immigration and Borders Service) in 2023 

Due to complaints of violence and abuse of power, the abolition of the SEF and the creation of a new Borders service (APMA) was announced in 2021. It has been delayed since then but the change is set to be officially implemented in 2023.

Besides the more serious troubles, the SEF was also known for its delays and administrative issues. So it’s expected that this change will speed up response times and improve the overall quality of the organization and, by doing so, your experience of immigrating to Portugal. 

The SEF held law enforcement powers, which will now be completely transferred to the respective authorities. The APMA (Agência Portuguesa para as Migrações e Asilo) will only be responsible for migration and asylum matters, such as:

  • Approval of Visas
  • Residence Permit Applications
  • Requests for extension of tourist visas
  • Family reunification
  • Declarations of Arrival
  • General information on any immigration issue

So if you’re worried about delays and the general dealing of migration bureaucracy in Portugal, those are expected to improve greatly. 

PORTUGUESE GOLDEN VISA APPLICATION PROCESS

Since the application for the golden visa in Portugal follows a strict process, we recommend you get the help of a lawyer to guide you through it. Here are the steps to obtain your GV:

1: Make Your Investment

Before you can apply for the Portugal Golden Visa Program, you have to have made an investment. You don’t have to wait for renovation projects to be completed to apply for the GV. You must only prove that you have already deposited the necessary funds in a Portuguese bank account.

2: Prepare and Translate Your Documents Into Portuguese

Gather all necessary documents needed for the application – this step may take a few months. Once you have all documents, translate them and have them certified by a Portuguese notary or a Portuguese consulate in your country of origin to meet SEF’s requirements.

Here’s a list of documents you need:

General Documents

Coordinated by the Golden Visa Lawyer

  • Portuguese Tax Identification Number
  • A copy of your passport 
  • Portuguese bank account documents
  • Proof of entry and stay in Portugal – (stamp in your passport)
  • Health insurance with international coverage
  • Criminal record certificate of your country of origin 
  • Proof of tax number of the country of origin/residence (tax return)
  • Declaration signature for consultation with the Criminal Record in Portugal
  • Investment compliance declaration
  • Declaration by the Portuguese Tax Authority that you have no debts
  • Portuguese Social Security Declaration confirming that  you have no debts

Investment Documents

Coordinated by Pearls of Portugal

  • Promissory Purchase and Sale Agreement
  • Property Purchase Deed
  • Bank statement confirming  the transfer of €280,000
  • Certificate from the Registry with the registration of the property
  • Tax Authority’s Land Booklet (caderneta predial)
  • Communication of renovation works to the City Council
  • Architectural work contract 
  • Licensing of the IMPIC Contractor proof
  • Proof of payment for the contract work, or of deposit in a Portuguese account of the total value of the contract works
  • Property Use License proving that it is over 30 years old

3: Get a Portuguese TAX-Number (NIF) and Open a Bank Account

If you’re not in Portugal, you can get your NIF and bank account remotely with the help of a third party like a lawyer or Pearls of Portugal. Keep in mind that once you get this, you are a tax resident in Portugal and bound to the local tax regime (granted you’ve already been approved after the visa interview). Fortunately, the Portugal Golden Visa Program categorizes you as a non-habitual resident, meaning you won’t have to pay most of the local taxes. 

4: Finalize Your Investment

Once you’ve decided on an investment, transfer the funds from a bank account in your name to your Portuguese bank account. Your lawyer should help you finalize the application process. 

5: File Your Initial Application to SEF 

Pre-register, then submit your application through the online portal of the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF). While you can do this on your own, we recommend that your lawyer do this on your behalf to ensure there are no issues with your paperwork. 

6: Book Your Interview 

Once you are pre-approved, you can schedule your interview appointment. Simply log into the ARI (Golden Visa) portal and select the Calendar option on the Applications page. Choose a date and time that suits you. It can take up to three months to get an appointment in Lisbon or  similar large cities. You may be able to get an appointment sooner in a less populated district. 

During the interview with an immigration official, your biometric data will be collected. Bring your family with you if you are applying with them. Make sure to have a copy of all the documents that were digitally attached to the Portugal Golden Visa Program application in case the official needs to validate anything.

7: Wait for Approval 

As soon as your application is approved, you have to pay an authorization fee of 5.324,60 EUR per applicant. 10 days later, you will receive your residence card, which is valid for one year. Congratulations, you may now legally live and work in Portugal! 

How to renew your Portugal Golden Visa application  

The residence card can be renewed for two years via the SEF website. In the second, third, fourth and fifth year, you have to submit your biometric data, present a current criminal record, and pay a fee of 2.662,30 EUR per applicant. The renewal process costs 532.70 EUR for the main applicant and 83,10 EUR for each additional family member.

Each year, you will have to prove that you are committed to maintaining your investment for at least five years and provide proof of your investment, like a deed of purchase for your real estate investment, employment contracts of jobs you created in Portugal, or a bank statement with your capital contributions. 

For your renewal, bring the following certified documents from a Portuguese consulate, or the embassy of your country translated into Portuguese with you:

  • Criminal record certificate from the country of origin/residence (issued within the last three months)
  • Marriage certificate (if married)
  • Birth certificate of the children (if needed)

How to get Portuguese citizenship

Just like other foreigners in the country, Portugal Golden Visa applicants who want to gain citizenship can do so after 5 years. The process requires an intensive vetting process where applicants are checked for money laundering,  criminal records, and contributions in Portugal. 

Key Takeaways 

There are tons of Americans living in Portugal, as well as many other nationalities. And for good reason: the country offers great weather, a low cost of living, safety, a liberal political climate and a welcoming culture toward people of all backgrounds. 

Moving to Portugal as a non-asylum seeking non-European is easy with the Portugal Golden Visa Program: you will just need to be an adult with no criminal record and make a minimum investment of 250,000 EUR.

Not only is this a great way to invest in Portugal and in your future, but it also allows you to live and work in Europe and move freely in the Schengen area. What’s more, you can even bring your family members, granted they fulfil a set of requirements. So, pack your bags and plan ahead, as a new life awaits you in Europe with the Portugal Golden Visa Program! 

Services

1. Submission of Visa application
  • Obtaining a NIF (Tax Identification Number).
  • Opening a bank account in Portugal.
  • Acknowledgment of signatures.
  • Manage the legalization of documents, where applicable, in Portugal.
  • Collect, prepare, legalize the translation, and transmission of the initial documents for the visa application.
  • Manage the initial administrative formalities.
  • Provide all representation services.
  • Submit the visa application to the competent local authorities, for the main applicant and family members, including dependants, if applicable.
2. Visa Application Follow-up
  • Follow-up and coordinate the administrative processing with local authorities.
  • After the request is accepted, collect and transmit the residence permits.
  • Orientation and accompaniment during visits to Portugal.
  • Organize the necessary appointments (namely for the biometric process) and provide all the necessary guidance during the stay in the country.
3. Services after obtaining the Visa
  • Submit the residence permit application.
  • Follow-up of residence permit renewals (after two years).
  • Various administrative and support services (Numero de Utente and NISS).
  • “Orientation Program”: The goal of this program is to offer orientation about Portugal, giving an overview of the lifestyle, cultural activities, infrastructure, transportation, health services, and commercial areas.

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