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Portugal Golden Visa 2024: Exploring the Latest Investment Criteria

The Golden Visa Program, formally known as the Residence Permit for Investment Activity (ARI) in Portugal, has been a popular route for third-country nationals seeking residency in Europe since its inception on October 8, 2012. However, recent government announcements in February 2024 and significant changes introduced in October 2023 with Law No. 56/2023 have led to widespread confusion about the program's current status.


To clarify these updates and guide you through the application process, here is a comprehensive overview of the latest changes to the Golden Visa Program and how you can still apply in 2024.


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1. Introduction to Golden Visa in Portugal


Has the Program Truly Ended?

Contrary to common misconceptions, the Golden Visa program has not ended but has undergone substantial modifications. As of October 2023, the route through real estate investment, particularly in popular urban and coastal areas, has been discontinued. However, non-EU investors still have several alternative pathways to secure residency in Portugal and potentially obtain European citizenship.


What is the Golden Visa in Portugal?

The Portugal Golden Visa program, also known as the Residence Permit for Investment Activity (ARI), is a residency-by-investment scheme designed for non-EU citizens. Launched on October 8, 2012, this program aims to attract international capital into Portugal by offering a streamlined process for investors to gain residency in exchange for making qualifying investments in the country.


Benefits of the Golden Visa Program

The Golden Visa program offers numerous benefits, making it an attractive option for international investors:

  • Visa-free Travel: Enjoy visa-free travel across the Schengen states.

  • Residency and Work Rights: Live and work in Portugal, with a minimum stay requirement of 7 days in the first year and 14 days in subsequent years.

  • Path to Citizenship: Apply for Portuguese citizenship after five years.

  • Family Reunification: Include family members in the application.

  • Tax Benefits: Potential tax advantages under Portugal's Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) tax regime.

  • Permanent Residency: Apply for permanent residency after five years of maintaining the Golden Visa.


Who Can Apply?

The Golden Visa is available to nationals of non-EU/EEA countries who make qualifying investments in Portugal. The recent legal amendments have refined the types of investments that are eligible.




2. Eligible Golden Visa Options for 2024


Job Creation

Establish a business that creates at least 10 new jobs. This option is ideal for entrepreneurs looking to contribute to the Portuguese economy while benefiting from the Golden Visa program. The created jobs must be permanent and maintained for a minimum duration to ensure long-term economic impact.


Scientific Research

Transfer capital of at least €500,000 for research activities conducted by public or private scientific research institutions. This investment promotes innovation and supports the development of cutting-edge technologies and scientific discoveries. Investors can contribute to various fields such as healthcare, environmental science, and technology, fostering a robust research ecosystem in Portugal.


Cultural Investment

Invest a minimum of €250,000 in the preservation of cultural heritage or support artistic production through recognized public or private entities. This option allows investors to play a crucial role in safeguarding Portugal’s rich cultural history and promoting its vibrant arts scene. Contributions can be directed towards restoring historical landmarks, supporting museums, or funding artistic endeavors such as theater, music, and visual arts.


Investment Funds

Transfer at least €500,000 into investment funds or venture capital funds aimed at capitalizing Portuguese companies, with at least 60% of the investment directed to companies based in Portugal. This option is suitable for investors looking to diversify their portfolios while supporting the growth of Portuguese businesses. These funds are typically managed by professionals who strategically invest in high-potential sectors, contributing to economic development and innovation.


Commercial Enterprise

Transfer €500,000 or more to establish a new commercial company with its headquarters in Portugal, creating at least five permanent jobs, or to increase the share capital of an existing company, maintaining or creating a minimum of five permanent jobs for at least three years. This option is perfect for investors who want to engage directly in the Portuguese market, whether by starting a new venture or expanding an existing one. The emphasis on job creation and business growth ensures that the investment has a substantial and lasting impact on the local economy.



3. A Closer Look at Golden Visa Investment Funds


In 2023, non-real estate investments represented 65% of the total investments under the Residence Authorization through Investment (ARI) program. Among these, investments in private equity funds have surged, quadrupling between 2021 and September 2023. These funds offer several advantages over real estate, including faster processing times, lower taxes and fees, greater sector diversification, and a hassle-free experience.


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Benefits of Investment Funds

Investment in eligible funds has become a primary route for Golden Visa applicants. These funds span various sectors such as hospitality, renewable energy, R&D, and sustainable mobility. Athena Advisers collaborates with several promising funds, which typically offer annual returns ranging from 4% to 8%. The minimum investment remains €500,000, which must be maintained for at least five years. Investors can opt to diversify their portfolios by splitting their investments across multiple funds, thereby reducing financial risk.

Investment funds in Portugal are rigorously regulated by the Portuguese Securities Market Commission (CMVM), ensuring compliance with local laws and providing a layer of security for investors.


Advantages and Challenges

When compared to the real estate route, investment funds present several advantages:

  1. Lower Taxes and Fees: Real estate investments incur annual municipal taxes, IMI, and stamp duty, whereas investment funds often come with tax-exempt dividends and capital gains. For non-tax residents, withholding tax exemptions can also apply.

  2. Professional Management: Funds are managed by professionals, allowing investors a hands-off approach while their capital is actively managed.

  3. Diverse Options: Similar to the variety in eligible real estate, a broad selection of investment funds is available, each with different risk profiles and investment goals. Investors must carefully consider the track record of fund managers and align their choices with their own financial objectives.




4. The Golden Visa Application Process in Portugal


Pre-Registration

Applicants must pre-register online via the ARI Portal. This step is mandatory and initiates the application process.


Required Documentation

To apply, you will need the following documents:

  • Valid passport and visa

  • Proof of qualifying investment

  • Portuguese tax identification number (NIF)

  • Criminal record certificate from your home country and Portugal

  • Declaration from a Portuguese bank confirming the transfer of funds

  • Health insurance valid in Portugal

  • Evidence of compliance with tax and social security obligations in Portugal


Fees

Application fees apply, covering both the initial application and subsequent renewals. Detailed fee information is available on the official ARI Portal.



5. Contacts and Additional Resources in Portugal

For further assistance, you can contact the SEF (Foreigners and Borders Service) through their contact center at +351 217 115 000 (fixed network) or +351 965 903 700 (mobile network).


Key References

  • Foreigners Law: Law No. 23/2007 of July 4, with amendments.

  • Regulatory Decree: No. 84/2007 of November 5, with amendments.

  • Ordinance: No. 305-A/2012 of October 4.


For more detailed guidance and updates, consult the following:


When in doubt, consult an immigration lawyer. We’re here to help you connect with a specialist.



6. Conclusion - Portugal Golden Visa 2024


Despite recent changes, Portugal's Golden Visa Program remains an attractive option for investors seeking residency in Europe. By understanding the updated investment criteria and following the application process carefully, you can take advantage of the numerous benefits this program offers. Whether it's the allure of European residency, business opportunities, or a pathway to citizenship, the Golden Visa continues to provide a valuable gateway to a new life in Portugal.



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Lagos Homes is your reliable partner for all your real estate needs in Portugal. We go beyond helping you find your dream property, offering expert guidance across all aspects. Do you have any inquiries? Feel free to contact us now!




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