Portugal's 'golden visa' program was first launched in 2012 and has in recent times experienced a real surge in popularity. The COVID-19 pandemic is possibly behind this spike in Golden Visas as many individuals find the idea of a second residence/citizenship very attractive. The pandemic has hit the global economy hard and some countries are suffering more than others. As a result, citizenship by investment programs has been altered so as to maximise the attraction.
The Portuguese program requires an investor to purchase a property for more than €500,000 in order to secure a valid residency permit. After six years, the investor could apply for Portuguese citizenship. The program has been so popular that the Portuguese Parliament have now legislated to exclude property purchases in Lisbon and Porto from the scheme.
But who is attracted to the scheme and why?
Well the program also comes with a whole host of tax benefits such as a 10 year tax abatement on worldwide income. The geographical location and proximity to the United Kingdom also makes the country attractive when viewed as a launching pad into Europe as a whole. Recent statistics from the Portuguese government indicate that the scheme is particularly popular with tech entrepreneurs and Chinese nationals. There has been a 22.9 per cent increase in international citizens holding residency in Portugal (when compared to 2018).
There are some who are highly critical of such programs but given the fact that the Portuguese Parliament turned down a bill proposed by opposition parties (intended to abolish the scheme) it seems that the Golden Visa is here to stay and may be a critical aspect of Portugal's post-COVID recovery.