The rules governing the granting of Residence Permit for Investment (ARI / Golden Visa), in force from 8 October 2012, enable third country nationals to obtain a temporary residence permit to conduct business activities with visa waiver to enter national territory.
Residence visa waiver for entering Portugal;
Living and working in Portugal, on condition that they stay in Portugal for a period of 7 or more days, in the first year, and 14 or more days, in the subsequent years;
Visa exemption for traveling within the Schengen Area;
Applying for permanent residence (pursuant to the Aliens Act – Act number 23/2007 of 4 July with the current wording );
Applying for Portuguese citizenship, by naturalization, provided all other requirements set out by the Nationality Act are fulfilled (Act number 37/81 of 3 October, as amended);
Eligibility – Who may apply?
All third country citizens who conduct an investment activity, as an individual businessperson or through a company set up in Portugal or in another EU Member State and who, in addition, are stably settled in Portugal, provided these citizens fulfill the quantitative requirements and the time requirements set out by the relevant legislation, may apply for a Residence Permit for Investment, by one of the following routes:
i. Capital transfer with a value equal to or above 1 million Euros;
ii. The creation of, at least, 10 job positions;
iii. The purchase of real estate property with a value equal to or above 500 thousand Euros;
iv. The purchase of real estate property, with construction dating back more than 30 years or located in urban regeneration areas, for refurbishing, for a total value equal to or above 350 thousand Euros;
v. Capital transfer with a value equal to or above 350 thousand Euros for investing in research activities conducted by public or private scientific research institutions involved in the national scientific or technology system;
vi. Capital transfer with a value equal to or above 250 thousand Euros for investing in artistic output or supporting the arts, for reconstruction or refurbishment of the national heritage, through the local and central authorities, public institutions, public corporate sector, public foundations, private foundations of public interest, networked local authorities, local corporate sector organizations, local associations and public cultural associations, pursuing activities of artistic output, and reconstruction or maintenance of the national heritage;
vii. Capital transfer of the amount of 350 thousand Euros, or higher, for the acquisition of units of investment funds or venture capital fund of funds dedicated to the capitalization of companies, capital injected under the Portuguese legislation, whose maturity, at the moment of the investment, is, at least, of five years and, at least, 60% of the investments is realized in commercial companies with head office in national territory;
viii. Capital transfer of the amount of 350 thousand Euros, or higher, for constitution of a commercial society with head office in the national territory, combined with the creation of five permanent working jobs, or for the reinforcement of the share capital of a commercial society with head office in national territory, already existing, with the creation or keeping of working jobs, with a minimum of five permanent jobs, and for a minimum period of three years.
Portuguese, EU and EEE nationals are not eligible for the ARI / Golden Visa scheme.
The granting of a residence permit shall entail: the absence of any fact which, if known to the competent authorities, would preclude the granting of the visa; Absence of conviction for a crime which in Portugal is punishable by a custodial sentence of more than one year; The applicant is not within a period of prohibition of entry into the national territory, following an expulsion measure from the country; No indication in the Schengen Information System; No indication in SEF’s Integrated Information System for non-admission purposes, under article 33 of the Aliens Act
Without prejudice to any special legal provisions (in this case the renewal deadlines), with the amendment introduced to article 75 of the Aliens Act, by article 183 of Act n.º 2/2020, of 31 March – State Budget to 2020 in force since 01/04/2020 and to 2020 –, the temporary residence permit for investment purposes is valid for two years [and not just one] from the date of issue of the corresponding title.
To the citizens holding a residence permit for investment purposes and their family members, complying with the requirements provided in article 80 of the Aliens Act and wish to be granted with a permanent residence permit, a permanent residence permit for investment purposes shall be issued, exempt of the provided in article 85, n.ºs 2, 3 and 4, subparagraph b) of the same diploma (cancellation of the right due to absences from the national territory, see article 65-k of the Regulatory Decree 84/07 of 5/11, as amended). The Permanent Residence Permit for investment purposes may be subject to specific fees of analysis and issuance, to be regulated by amendments to Ordinance 1334-E/2010, of December 31.
The End of the Portuguese Golden Visa
The recent measure to end gold visas in Lisbon and Porto announced by the 2020 State Budget aims to “favor the promotion of investment in low-density regions, as well as investment in urban re qualification, cultural heritage, high-value activities environmental or social, productive investment and job creation ”. In this sense, it restricts investments in real estate with a view to obtaining a residence permit to the territory of the Inter municipal Communities (CIM) of the Interior and the Islands of the Azores and Madeira and foresaw increase the minimum value of investments and the number of jobs to create.
With this decision, the intention was to relieve the pressure from the real estate market in areas such as Lisbon and Porto, encouraging the diversification of this type of investment, to other geographical areas of the country. However, the great focus placed, by certain market agents, between the relationship between the attraction of investment in real estate and Golden Visas, led the market to devalue the opportunity of the Venture Capital Funds (FCR), also qualified for those who intend to apply for a Gold Visa in Portugal, with only one investment minimum of 350 thousand euros.
In fact, there are several benefits for an investor who opts for FCR, namely the minimum value of the investment to be made through the acquisition of units in these funds - 350 thousand euros. In fact, given the minimum value of other types of investment, such as, for example, capital transfers (1 million euros) or classic real estate investment (500 thousand euros), the minimum amount required for FCRs is among the lowest program.
On the other hand, in relation to other types of investment eligible for Gold Visas with the need for an equal or less financial contribution, the acquisition of units in the funds is much simpler and faster. The request for proof of investment is carried out quickly by the management entity of the respective fund, attesting the viability of the capitalization plan and the maturity of at least five years. In addition, this investment model contributes, albeit indirectly, to the development of the national industrial and commercial center, since at least 60% of the capital is invested in commercial companies based in the national territory.
For the investor, there is still an additional benefit in terms of cost reduction, since, in this model, there are usually no indirect costs associated, contrary to what usually happens in real estate investment, which incurs IMT, IMI costs and other administration and condominium expenses.
The Golden Visa Portugal September 2020 Update
In August, the investment resulting from the granting of a Residence Permit for Investment (ARI) reached 57,694,424.11 euros, which represents a 30% decrease compared to the same month of 2019 (82.5 million euros).
Compared to July (56 million euros), investment raised through 'gold' visas rose 2.8%.
Last month, 107 'golden' visas were awarded, of which 97 were due to the acquisition of real estate (25 when purchasing for urban rehabilitation) and 10 through the capital transfer criterion.
The purchase of real estate totaled an investment of 50.1 million euros in August, of which 9 million euros correspond to the acquisition for urban rehabilitation.
The capital transfer totaled an investment of 7.5 million euros, and no visa was once again granted through job creation.
Of the total 'gold' visa concessions in August, 36 came from China, 12 from Brazil, 10 from Russia, eight from South Africa and seven from the United States.
Year-to-date, the amount raised by this instrument totaled 496 million euros, 10% less than the accumulated investment in the same period of 2019.
Between January and August, 915 'golden' visas were issued.
The Golden Visa Portugal Investment Funds
In October 2018, the Portuguese Parliament approved a new law which allows investments through venture capital funds (or FCR – Fundo de Capital de Risco) as a qualifying investment for Portugal’s Golden Visa. With a minimum investment of €350,000 in an FCR fund, investors can now apply for Portugal citizenship by investment and take advantage of all its benefits.
The name Venture Capital may sound complicated but it is simply a designation for investment funds that are managed by corporate experts in the field who seek to invest in real estate projects or medium-sized projects with strong growth potential. Each fund has a specific well-defined investment mandate and may focus on sectors such as energy, industry, technology, or real estate. Funds are regulated by Portugal’s regulator, the CMVM.
Funds are specifically managed by experts in each sector, you can obtain residency with a Portuguese fund investment, and many investors are exempt from paying tax in Portugal. Funds are also regulated by the Portuguese Securities Market Commission.
When analyzing the eligible Portuguese venture capital funds, you should take into consideration many factors like the investment mandate, the managers credentials, leverage and liquidity, and legal documents. Some funds offer limited potential for capital appreciation with a safer investment profile and others may have a more leveraged approach with an aim to provide investors multiples of the capital invested.
It is possible to get a residency permit in Portugal through investment funds. You must make a minimum investment of €350,000.
Usually the Investment Fund maturity is of 6 years as according to the Golden Visa Program the investment needs a maturity of at least 5 years.
You can apply for citizenship after 5 years if you make an investment in a qualifying fund.
Before investing you should be sure of the Funds eligibility for the Golden Visa Program and analyze its strategy, management aspects and legal aspects. Also important is the return of investment which is usually paid as dividends either every year or if the Fund follows an accumulation strategy in the end of the 6th anniversary of your investment.
Benefits of investment funds for Golden Visa
The fund is professionally managed by experts on each specific sector
You can obtain Portuguese residency from a €350,000 investment
Venture capital funds are a tax-efficient vehicle — dividends and capital gains returned to investors may be tax-exempt
Some funds offer a minimum return hurdle-rate (usually of 5%) which means managers will only be compensated if the fund performance is above a certain percentage
Some funds have the support of the Portuguese Government through subsidies or financed by the IFD;
The funds are regulated and must comply with the rules stipulated by the Portuguese Securities Market Commission (CMVM), which means that fund managers are regularly audited by third parties.
STEPS for the Golden Visa Investment Fund application:
1. The Management company will receive from the investor a KYC Form; Subscription Form and personal documents;
2. The Golden Visa investor will obtain his Portuguese tax identification number (NIF) and open a Portuguese bank account (checking and securities account);
3. The investor will transfer the money from his foreign account to his Portuguese bank account;
4. The investor orders the bank transfer to the Funds bank account;
5. The Management company issues a declaration necessary for the Golden Visa application and the Portuguese bank issues two declarations (money transfer overseas and certificate of holding the Participation units (shares).
Note: "US Persons" (investors with American citizenship or being tax residents in the US) need to open their Portuguese bank account with a FATCA compliant bank account as for example: Bison Bank; Banco Atlântico; Banco Carregosa.
Documents for the Golden Visa Investment Fund application:
The Applicant must present supporting evidence in which he has made the investment of the minimum amount required, individually or through a shareholder limited liability company of which the Applicant is the shareholder. The following documents must be presented for the Golden Visa application:
• Declaration of a credit institution authorized or registered in the national territory within Bank of Portugal, attesting the effective transfer of the amount equal to or above the legally required;
•Supporting document attesting the ownership of the units of investment, free from any charges and obligations (issued by the entity responsible for keeping an updated record of the units of investment holders, under the law, of the respective management regulation or of contractual instrument);
•Declaration issued by the holding company of the respective investment fund, attesting the feasibility of the capitalization plan, the maturity of, at least, five years, and the application of at least 60% of the investment in commercial companies with head office in national territory.
Thoughts before investing in the Golden Visa Investment Fund
If you are interested in applying for the Portugal Golden Visa through a Venture Capital Fund (FCR), you must carefully make your decision based on three important criteria:
Fund eligibility for the Portuguese Golden Visa;
Fund credentials including fund strategy and legal;
Fund return (yield) and maturity.
Normally your Portuguese lawyer will be able to help you with the analysis of these criteria.
“US Person” and the FATCA Rules:
In 2018 the Investment Fund option was not open for “US Person” because many banks and Investment Funds in Portugal where not complying with the FATCA laws of the United States. Now most of the Investment Funds are already eligible for “Us Person” to invest. The best banks for “US Persons” to open their bank accounts are: