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Country Update 2021: PORTUGAL

Contributed by: Raquel Cuba Martins (SRS Advogados & Associados, RL)

June 2019 to May 2021

1. Country Overview

The Government focused on dealing with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic rather than approving legislative changes.

Presidential elections took place in January 2021 and President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa was re-elected for a second term.

2. Legislative Changes

  • Amendments to the immigration legislation: The Government reviewed the Golden Visa regime under the authorisation set out in the State Budget for 2020, aimed at promoting investment in the interior of Portugal and other types of investment activities other than real estate.

  • Amendments to the citizenship law.

3. Business Immigration

Regular visa

There were some developments under the New Consular Management Model aimed at simplifying and dematerialising consular acts, with the most significant development for business immigration being the launch of the E-visa platform.

The platform was launched in March 2020 and allows electronic visa applications, upload of documents and online tracking of the visa application process.

Due to COVD-19 this platform has not yet been implemented in all consular offices.

A future platform allowing the implementation of consular acts electronically, including the possibility of online payment of visa application fees, has already been approved.

Golden Visa

Since 8 October 2012 and up to 30 April 2021, 9,715 residence permits for investment purposes were granted (plus 16,495 family members) totaling a foreign investment of € 5,8billion

The top 5 citizenships are China (4,899), Brazil (1,019) Turkey (463), South Africa (399) and Russia (373).

The three most elected investment activities remain the same, (i) Purchase of real estate; (ii) Transfer of capital in an amount equal to, or greater than € 1,000,000.00 and (iii) Transfer of capital in an amount equal to, or greater than, € 350,000.00, to be used for the acquisition of units in Portuguese investment or venture capital funds of which 60% of investments must be in Portuguese companies.

The following amendments to the Golden Visa regime were approved and will become effective on 1 January 2022, being applicable to applications filed from that date onwards:

  • Transfer of capital: The minimum investment amount will be of € 1,500,000.00 instead of € 1,000,000.00.

  • Purchase of real estate: The minimum investment amount remains unchanged. However, the purchase of real estate for residential purposes is limited to properties located in the Azores and Madeira or in countryside regions (Regulation no. 208/2017, of 13 July). Properties for commercial or industrial use are not subject to such limitation. Given such, the purchase of such properties, regardless of its location, will continue to grant eligibility for the Golden Visa application.

  • Transfer of capital for research activities: The minimum investment amount will be of € 500,000.00 instead of € 350,000.00.

  • Transfer of capital for purchase of units in investment funds or venture capital funds: The minimum investment amount will be of € 500,000.00 instead of € 350,000.00.

  • Transfer of capital for the incorporation of a company with head office in Portugal or share capital increase in an existing Portuguese company: The minimum investment amount will be of € 500,000.00 instead of € 350,000.00.

4. Citizenship

Main amendments to the citizenship legislation:

  • Citizenship by ancestry: Grandchildren of Portuguese citizens of origin (original non-naturalized Portuguese citizens) who speak the Portuguese language are considered to have a connection to Portugal and shall be granted Portuguese citizenship provided they have not been convicted of a crime punishable in Portugal with imprisonment equal to or greater than three years and do not constitute a danger or threat to national security or defence.

  • Citizenship by birth: Children of foreign citizens (who are not at the service of the respective State), born in Portugal, provided that at the time of birth one of the parents (i) is a legal resident in Portugal, or (ii) has been residing in Portugal for at least one year, are granted Portuguese citizenship provided they do not declare that they do not want to be Portuguese citizens;

  • Citizenship by marriage: Foreign citizens who have been married for more than six years to a Portuguese citizen do not need to prove connection to Portugal.

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