The Portuguese authorities have decided to update the residency-by-investment programme to push more foreign investors towards low residency regions.
The decision has been taken by Portugal’s Council of Ministers, who have agreed on the modification of the residence permits program by investment under the legislative authorization granted by the State Budget Law of 2020.
The programme, which is widely known as “Golden Visa Programme”, has been updated in an attempt of the government to promote the investment of foreigners in low-density regions, in particular through urban rehabilitation, cultural heritage, activities of high environmental or social value, productive investment and job creation.
The new programme will become effective on mid-2021, July 1, while a transitional period will be imposed from then on, until the end of the year.
Thus, investors who want to benefit from Portugal residency, and the freedom of movement throughout the rest of the European Union countries, will no longer be able to invest in bigger cities as Lisbon and Porto.
There are currently eight types of eligible investments in the Portuguese Golden Visa programme, including the Green Visa, which permits foreigners to obtain Portuguese residency if they invest a minimum of €500,000 in organic agriculture, ecotourism, renewable energy and other environmental projects.
The government expects the new changes to the programme to attract more foreigners.
Experts Call the Decision a ‘Terrible Mistake’
Despite the government’s expectations, Said Luís Lima of APEMIP (the association of real estate professionals) believes that the new changes come at the worse time possible.
“It was already a mistake when they were announced in the 2020 State Budget, but the decision has become all the more incomprehensible within the context of the pandemic we are living through…” Lima asserts.
Lima is not the only one to criticize the changes, as his opinions are also supported by others, including leader-writer Armando Esteves Pereira.
The latter has called the government's efforts ‘poetic’ but one that ‘risks killing the hen that lays the golden eggs’.
“If the government wanted to incentivize investment in the country’s interior it should have created different scales of investment,” Pereira writes, suggesting that the government could offer visas for investment in the low-density areas of the interior on one scale, and double the amount that needs to be spent in more popular regions”.