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Golden Visa Portugal: Navigating the Changes and Discovering New Investment Opportunities


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The end of 2023 was marked by many changes in the field of migration in Portugal. With the extinction of the Aliens and Borders Service (SEF), the creation of the Agency for Integration, Migration and Asylum (AIMA), the distribution of SEF's competences to other entities, changes to the Aliens Act, among others.


However, despite all this background noise, it's still worth betting on Portugal as an excellent investment option.


The FiO Legal series of posts on “INVESTING IN PORTUGAL” began last month with the text "Golden Visa Portugal: Understanding the impact of the 2023 legislative changes on Investors".


In this post, we will present the historical evolution of the Golden Visa Programme, allowing you to see that the recent changes are not at all negative and can create new avenues and opportunities for your investment in Portugal.


To kick things off, let's go back to 2012, when one of the most successful programmes - despite its controversy - in terms of foreign investment was launched in Portugal through Law no. 29/2012 of 9 August: the Golden Visa Programme, or the Residence Permit for Investment (ARI).


Initially, to apply for this type of residence permit, it was necessary to carry out an investment activity, either personally or through a company, in national territory and for a minimum period of five years. The investment activities that allowed the ARI to be granted were:


  • Transfer of capital totalling 1 million euros or more.

  • Creation of at least 30 jobs.

  • Acquisition of property worth 500,000 euros or more.



In 2015, Law no. 63/2015 of 30 June updated the type of investment in order to reconsider the options, going from 3 to 7, as shown below:


  • Transfer of capital totalling 1 million euros or more.

  • Creation of at least 10 jobs (instead of 30).

  • Acquisition of real estate worth 500 thousand euros or more.

  • Acquisition of real estate whose construction was completed at least 30 years ago or which is located in an urban rehabilitation area and carrying out rehabilitation works on the real estate acquired, totalling 350 thousand euros or more.

  • Transfer of capital totalling 350,000 euros or more, applied to research activities carried out by public or private scientific research institutions that are part of the national scientific and technological system.

  • Transfer of capital totalling 250 thousand euros or more, applied to investment or support for artistic production, recovery or maintenance of national cultural heritage, through central and peripheral direct administration services, public institutes, public business sector entities, public foundations, private foundations with public utility status, inter-municipal entities, local business sector entities, municipal associative entities and public cultural associations, which pursue attributions in the area of artistic production, recovery or maintenance of national cultural heritage.

  • Capital transfers of 500,000 euros or more, intended for the acquisition of participation units in investment or venture capital funds geared towards the capitalisation of small and medium-sized companies which, for this purpose, present the respective capitalisation plan and it proves to be viable.



In 2017, Law no. 102/2017 of 28 August made a further change to the investment options, which also included:


  • Capital transfers of 350,000 euros or more for the acquisition of units in investment funds or venture capital funds aimed at capitalising companies, which are set up under Portuguese law, whose maturity at the time of the investment is at least five years and at least 60% of the value of the investments is made in commercial companies based in Portugal.

  • Transfer of capital in the amount of 350,000 euros or more, intended for the incorporation of a commercial company based in Portugal, combined with the creation of five permanent jobs, or to increase the share capital of a commercial company based in Portugal, already incorporated, with the creation or maintenance of jobs, with a minimum of five permanent jobs, and for a minimum period of three years.

In 2021, Decree-Law no. 14/2021 of 12 February again modifies some forms of investment and adds others, namely:


  • Capital transfers totalling 1.5 million euros or more (instead of 1 million euros).

  • Capital transfers totalling 500,000 euros or more (instead of 350,000 euros), applied to research activities carried out by public or private scientific research institutions that are part of the national scientific and technological system.

  • Capital transfers totalling 500,000 euros or more (instead of 350,000 euros), intended for the acquisition of units in investment funds or venture capital funds aimed at capitalising companies, which are set up under Portuguese law, whose maturity at the time of the investment is at least five years and at least 60% of the value of the investments is made in commercial companies based in Portugal.

  • Capital transfers totalling 500,000 euros or more (instead of 350,000 euros), intended for the incorporation of a commercial company with its head office in Portugal, combined with the creation of five permanent jobs, or to increase the share capital of a commercial company with its head office in Portugal, already incorporated, with the creation or maintenance of jobs, with a minimum of five permanent jobs, and for a minimum period of three years.



These last changes only came into force at the beginning of 2022, but they already showed an attempt to redirect investment away from the major centres and towards other options, reducing the pressure on the property market. However, at the end of 2022, rumours began to spread about the possibility of the programme coming to an end. On 16 February 2023, Jornal de Negócios reported that "[i]n the total of 11,535 ARIs granted by the end of 2022, 10,593 were under the property acquisition criterion, with a total investment of 6,041 million euros, of which 534.1 million corresponded to purchase for urban rehabilitation, with 1,485 ARIs".


In this sense, in 2023, Law no. 56/2023 of 6th October established specific rules on ARIs in its article 42, once again changing the Golden Visa Portugal Programme, as explained in this post.


It is important to note that the Golden Visa Portugal Programme has not come to an end. However, the investment options have undergone some changes, including the fact that "direct or indirect investments in real estate are no longer eligible for the Golden Visa. [...] and the capital transfer of €1,500,000 is also no longer eligible".


That said, there are still several ways to invest in Portugal. We'll explore each of them in the next articles in FiO Legal's series of posts on "Investing in Portugal".


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