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Is Golden Visa in Portugal Coming to an End???

Prime Minister António Costa at Web Summit Lisboa speaks out and ponders putting an end to Golden Visas…

The Government is “re-evaluating” the golden visas and the Prime Minister, António Costa, assumed that one of the hypotheses on the table is the end of the program, as it “probably” has already fulfilled its function.

The Prime Minister revealed this past Wednesday that the Government is “re-evaluating” the golden visa program. At a press conference on the sidelines of the Web Summit, in response to a question by ECO, António Costa said that “all possibilities” are on the table, but that “at this moment it is no longer justified to maintain” the program, which he completed recently a decade into effect.

“There are programs that, obviously, we are currently re-evaluating. One of them is the golden visa, which has probably already fulfilled the function it had to fulfill, and which at this moment is no longer justified to maintain”, assumed the head of the Government.

Then, asked to say whether the end of the program is the scenario that is in the prime minister's mind, António Costa replied: “When you are evaluating, you put all the hypotheses. And after the evaluation is completed, decisions are made and hypotheses become decisions. We are currently evaluating whether golden visas make sense.”

The golden visa program has been in effect since October 2012. It is officially known by the name Authorization of Residence for Investment Activity (ARI) and allows foreign citizens to obtain a visa to enter Portugal (aka golden visa).

It is particularly attractive because it also allows you to travel around the Schengen area and bring your family. To obtain it, the candidate must make an investment in Portugal that fulfills certain conditions, such as the transfer of capital in an amount equal to or greater than 1.5 million euros or the acquisition of properties, with some restrictions to geographic location and minimum 30 years old, and with minimum investment value of 280.000€, for example.

“We have an open program so that we can be a factor in locating these digital nomads, as we have a program to attract Foreign Direct Investment. Each company that makes major strategic investments in Portugal also does so on a contractual basis. And, fortunately, Portugal has been increasingly attractive”, said the prime minister.

He continued: “In the first half of this year, we once again had a maximum history of investment contracted through AICEP. Year after year, we've had it. And what we want is to continue to have it. Because these companies are the companies that help us to create a society that has more jobs, especially better jobs, with better working conditions and better wages. And that’s why we have to keep going,” he concluded.

Also this past Wednesday, the Minister of Internal Administration, José Luís Carneiro, revealed that the Government is preparing an amendment to the State Budget proposal so that the automatic renewal of residence permits is extended to the entire year of 2023. should cover all citizens whose “biometric data are collected” and “the documentation is already recognized” by the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF).

Digital nomads are a “new reality” that must be “welcomed and cherished”

The Government has been criticized on some fronts for the new program to attract so-called digital nomads, a new visa for foreigners who earn more than four minimum wages to come to work temporarily in Portugal. It was in this context that António Costa referred to golden visas.

At the same time, Portugal has increasingly attracted digital nomads through the Non-Habitual Residents regime, which allows the reduction of IRS to new foreign residents or Portuguese citizens who have been emigrated for more than five years. Specifically, the rate increases to 20% of income from work or professional activity, instead of progressive rates, which go up to 48%. The ECO reported in October that the regime is boosting fiscal spending, according to the Public Finance Council (CFP).

António Costa was faced with criticism that these new regimes could generate inequality vis-à-vis young Portuguese people and increase pressure on the real estate market, making access to housing more difficult. Costa replied that digital nomads are interested in Portugal for the country's advantages, such as security, which is something that must be “welcome and cherished”. At the same time, the Executive is trying to increase the “disposable income” of these Portuguese through the Youth IRS and measures such as reducing the prices of social passes.

“Our startup and entrepreneurship ecosystem has changed radically since I created Startup Lisboa in 2012. Today, fortunately, there is practically no county that does not have these startups. We have more than 160 incubators across the country and we have a very significant growth in investment in startups. In 2021, there was an investment of more than 1,500 million euros in startups, which in fact means a great dynamic that has been created”, said the prime minister.

“This is very important for us to be a more creative, more innovative society, for us to be able to respond to the great challenges of the energy and digital transition, and above all to create more and better jobs, especially for younger people, who have a better level of qualification and we all have to make a huge effort to make it possible for them to find in Portugal the opportunities to develop their full potential”, shot the official.

Then, the prime minister turned to visas for digital nomads: “The pandemic has shown that Portugal is particularly attractive for digital nomads. Madeira was a place of attraction and settlement for many digital nomads, because Portugal had a good performance in facing the Covid crisis, has a very high level of security and is a particularly attractive place for those who have a professional activity that does not require being fixed in a point and therefore can choose. These are added value that we have to maintain, we have to know how to welcome and we have to cherish. If we want to be a more innovative country, with companies that are innovative and grow on a global scale, we have to have that dynamic,” he argued.

"Portugal performed well in the face of the Covid crisis, has a very high level of security and is a particularly attractive place for those who have a professional activity that does not require being fixed in a point and, therefore, can choose. We have to maintain, we have to know how to welcome and we have to cherish.” - Antonio Costa - Prime Minister

“Now there is a new reality that has to do with international entrepreneurship and, therefore, the attractiveness that we have in speeding up the granting of visas for those who want to come to Portugal to live, or to invest in the creation of technological companies, or to develop their activity”, concluded the prime minister.

Source: ECO Sapo

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