Portugal’s “Mais Habitação” (More Housing) program has caused significant uproar due to its proposed scrapping of the golden visa regime. However, the latest government decision suggests that the visa program will not be scrapped until new legislation is implemented. In other words, applicants who believed they were affected by the cut-off point introduced on February 16th are still eligible to apply. Furthermore, the new wording accepts that golden visa conversions can retain the “seven days a year” requirement, removing the proposed 183-day requirement. This is a major change that is set to benefit current and future applicants.
The government has also made another U-turn by allowing investment-based residence permits for individuals who invest in support of “artistic production and the recovery or maintenance of cultural heritage”. These investments will need the approval of one or more competent authorities.
This significant change has resulted from the enormous pressure exerted by industry associations, property developers, regional governors, stakeholder groups, and constitutionalists. At least two petitions were raised in outrage over the government’s original wording, both of which gathered thousands of signatures. Justice4PTGVInvestors reported on the success of its petition only a few days ago and is still not convinced that these latest concessions are enough. In an email that went out today, the group stresses the new text “does not give a date on when all applications should be approved, which makes us even more uncertain about the future of those who invested in good faith in Portugal”.
The golden visa program remains an attractive proposition for investors. Real estate sector specialists have advised those who are interested to proceed as soon as possible since the window of opportunity is likely to be at least 45 days, given the parliamentary agenda. Investors should seize the opportunity to invest in Portugal, and those caught up in this confusion should reach out to their embassies to protect their interests as investors.
Overall, the government's latest decision has yielded a reprieve for the golden visa regime. The new legislation will need to be debated in parliament, but the government’s absolute majority ensures that it will pass. With the changes to the legislation, the likelihood of a massive recourse to the courts is averted, satisfying the focus of the original petition. This decision is a significant win for investors, and Portugal remains an attractive destination for those seeking to invest in the country.