EuropeIntel & Data

Portugal Golden Visa Approval Volume in August Slowest in 2 Years as Government Goes on Holiday Mode

In terms of approval volume, August was the Portugal Golden Visa’s slowest month in more than two years: Only 64 main applicants were approved during the month, the lowest such number since August 2021.

Despite a backlog of now more than 8,000 unprocessed applications, the SEF has clearly permitted itself to go on holiday mode, demonstrating a disregard for applicants who have invested – in good faith and with the expectation of timely processing – some EUR 4 billion in the country, many of whom have waited up to two years for their case to be heard.

The SEF processed less than one percent of the backlog in August. Meanwhile, hundreds of new applications are coming in each month because of the imminent program changes, meaning the pile of unprocessed applications is growing fast.

Among the 64 investors who received approvals, Americans (12 approvals) were once more the top nationality group, as has been the case every month this year save for February. Chinese investors accounted for 9 approvals, followed by Brazilians (8), Russians (6), Turks (5), and South Africans (2).

It was not clear why Russians, whom the Portuguese government made a public point of excluding from the program last year, have started receiving approvals again.

Already by the end of August, Americans have received nearly as many golden visa approvals as during all of 2022. Accounting for 20% of all approved applications so far in 2023, Americans are now all but certain to become the program's top participant nationality for the second year in a row.

The approvals logged in August pertain to already-completed investments worth some EUR 33 million, the lowest such figure since September 2021.

So far this year, Portugal has approved 1,026 main applicants and 1,432 of their family members, indicating the program has a record year in store.

So far this year, acknowledged golden visa investment (actual investment is far greater, but the corresponding golden visa approvals have yet to be issued) has reached nearly half a billion euros.

Most of that investment pertains to Subparagraph 3 real estate (generally stemming from applications filed before 2022), while renovation-based real estate and fund-investment account for about a quarter each.

The fund investment option's popularity continues its inexorable rise, a trend that has tracked closely with the rise of demand from Americans, who have shown a greater preference for this asset class than other nationalities. And this is before the new rules take effect (expected later this month or early next month), when fund investment will be, for most intents and purposes, the only game in town.

With one-third of the year left to go, funds have already garnered EUR 108 million in recognized golden visa investment, well above last year's EUR 86 million.

The above data represents but a fraction of IMI's rich data on the Portuguese golden visa program, the remainder of which is available to IMI Pro members in the IMI Data Center.

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