The ending of the Portugal Golden Visa program was announced by the Prime Minister Antonio Costa on 16 February 2023, as part of a series of initiatives aimed at making housing more affordable in the country.
Following a period of so-called public consultation, the Council of Ministers will meet again and approve its final version of the package of measures.
21 March Update: Housing Bill Deemed “Unfeasible” by the Portuguese President
The Portuguese President, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, stated on 21 March that the Mais Habitação (More Housing) bill – which, besides other measures, seeks to end the Portugal Golden Visa program – was “unfeasible” and “inoperable.” He used the following analogy, relating to a melon, to describe the contents of the bill, stating, “People used to say that you only know if the melon is good after opening it” while commenting that the content was so large that it was difficult to get to grips with.
He hinted that the Portuguese government may have proposed the bill to instigate more focused attention to the party platform, as opposed to formulating legislation that could realistically be passed, labeling it as a “poster law.” He explained this term as, “laws that appear to proclaim certain programmatic principles, but the idea is not exactly that they pass in practice.” He went on to add that poster laws serve as “a pole of fixation for what it promises.”
The President went on to mention that it may have been better not to have spoken about the housing affordability problem, as the apparent solution is unworkable.
De Sousa’s comments are extremely significant as his opinion and position on the matter are usually taken into consideration, even before the law is sent to him. The President’s words will encourage those who argue that the final proposal on 30 March marks only the beginning of the discussion.
20 March Update: Government of Madeira “Refuses” to Comply with Mais Habitação Bill and is Considering “Alternative Proposals”
Miguel Albuquerque, the President of Madeira, one of the two autonomous islands of Portugal, has criticized the Mais Habitação (More Housing) bill. Amongst other measures, the bill seeks to end the Portugal Golden Visa program.
He stated that the regional government of Madeira refuses to apply the measures of the Mais Habitação program, stating that they were “counterproductive” and “statist.”
Albuquerque stated that Madeira’s autonomy grants the island a range of powers that include the “capacity and authority to legislate on the subject.” He has asked for a specific solution that takes into account the regional reality of Madeira, as the current bill would create economic disaster on the island, where the economy is highly dependent on tourism and foreign investment.
Regarding the end of the Portugal Golden Visa, he stated that the program was ending in order to address the real estate situation in Lisbon and Porto and that it does not make sense to extend these measures to the Autonomous Regions where the economic repercussions would be significant.
De Sousa recently visited Madeira and called for calm and negotiation, asking parties involved to display a “wait-and-see” approach as there are alternative proposals and legal courses of action being considered. Should discussions not go as he hopes, Albuquerque has warned that he is prepared to join forces with the Azores, Portugal’s other Autonomous Region, which is in the same situation.
It is worth noting that the Autonomous Regions do have the capacity to resist decisions from Lisbon. However, their ability to do so in relation to the Portugal Golden Visa is another matter, as residence permits are issued directly by the Portuguese Republic. The governments of Madiera – or the Azores – cannot issue residence permits on their own, therefore relying on national legislation.
Update 9 March 2023
The Portuguese government announced on 9 March that the decision for potential changes within the scope of the Golden Visa would no longer be decided and announced on 16 March. The public consultation period has now been extended until 24 March.
The government is awaiting the opinion of the Association of Municipalities, which should only be issued on the 21 March, so the government’s decision-making has been postponed until 30 March. By this date, we should then have an announcement of the government’s intentions.
This postponement is a positive sign, as it reveals that there will be greater weighting on this topic, perhaps as a result of the pressure that has been felt from stakeholders.
The Portugal Golden Visa Comes to an End
The Portuguese government is not legally able to make changes to the Golden Visa program. The Assembly of the Republic is the body responsible for approving any proposed changes. To do so, they will need to receive a proposal outlining the measures for voting.
The following points provide information on the procedure for the ending of the Portuguese Golden Visa.
- As mentioned, the process to end the Portugal Golden Visa involves a one-month public hearing. Following this, a proposal will be sent to Parliament on 24 March. This was extended from 16 March as the government is awaiting the opinion of the Association of Municipalities, which should only be issued on 21 March. The government’s decision-making has therefore been postponed until 30 March. The approval of this is expected to take between 15 to 20 days.
- The President will react in one of three ways:
- Ratify the proposal
- Return it to Parliament for it to be amended
- Ask the Constitutional Court to evaluate it
- The governing party is able to approve the measures as they hold the majority. However, with this said, other parties can propose alternative wording during public hearings. These proposals can influence the final wording of the law on the topic.
Is there a deadline for the Portugal Golden Visa ending?
It is not yet announced when the implementation of the amendments will take place or what the exact content of the final amendments to the legislation will be. However, the current legislation regarding the Golden Visa is expected to remain unchanged for the next 45 days at least.
There is a high risk that the Golden Visa will face complete termination in the short-to-medium term, but there is room for interpretation that the residency program could still exist in some form or other.
The important takeaway is that there is still time to apply for the Portugal Golden Visa. If you are interested in applying, time is of the essence, and we advise you to begin your application now.
Other residency visas were not discussed, such as the D7 Visa and the Digital Nomad Vis. If some of the proposed measures are approved, they may require changes in the current law.
Regarding existing Golden Visa cases, the Portuguese government aims to renew these but add extra requirements that address the housing issue.
You can find more detailed information about this whole process in this article on the Global Citizens Solutions website: Portugal Golden Visa Ending: Everything We Know So Far.
Our partner, Global Citizen Solutions, engaged in the public consultation stage of the Golden Visa ending
Global Citizen Solutions created a task force commission composed of immigration, economic, and real estate experts, which resulted in a proposal submitted to the Portuguese government.
The main objective of the document is to raise awareness amongst policymakers of the potential loss of the Golden Visa if carried out as announced by the government. At present, Global Citizen Solutions is engaged in the public consultation stage regarding the future of the Golden Visa program.
They offer alternative proposals for real estate and funds and investment options that do not contribute to the current housing crisis in Portugal. With this final proposal submitted to the government, the aim is to provide detailed information for the best governmental decision-making regarding the Golden Visa. If you would like to read the document, you can find it here.
The document is in Portuguese. We recommend that anybody that does not understand Portuguese use https://www.deepl.com/translator to translate the document (or alternatively, CHatGPT).
The Portugal Golden Visa Program
The Portugal Golden Visa or ARI (Autorização de Residência para Actividade de Investimento) was launched in 2012, allowing foreign investors to be granted a residence permit in Portugal in exchange for an investment in the country. After five years as residence permit holders, investors are able to apply for Portuguese citizenship.
Even though the program has several investment options, such as cultural contribution, creation of jobs, and business establishment, the majority of the investment in the 11 years of the program was in real estate.
In January 2022, some changes were implemented, with restrictions to real estate investment. Residential properties in Lisbon and Porto ceased to be eligible for the program, for example. (You can find out more about the 2022 visa changes in this article)