Slow Start to Portugal’s Golden Visa Year amid First Large Wave of Infections

Unlike its Iberian neighbor, Portugal was spared debilitating spikes in infection rates for most of 2020. As the country battles its first serious wave, the golden visa program is feeling the impact.



Portugal’s Borders and Immigration Service (SEF) approved 55 applications for golden visas in January, also awarding dependent-visas to 80 family members of main applicants. Though a slight improvement on the 49 applications approved in December, the number represents a 32% reduction compared to January 2020 and a 62% drop compared to January two years ago.



Accounting for 27 approved applications, China was the largest applicant source country, as has been the case in all but a single month of the program’s history (in February 2020, Brazilian applications eclipsed those of the Chinese who, at the time, were alone in dealing with a COVID-outbreak). Five Brazilian main applicants received their approvals in January, followed by four Russians, three Americans, and three Filipinos.



Since late 2019, American applicants have become a regular monthly fixture among the top five applicant source countries, and last year finished third overall with a record 75 approvals. The sharp increase of American participation in investment migration programs, indeed, has been a notable trend for the last 10-12 months, not only for Portugal but for programs globally.





January’s 55 approvals resulted in investments worth an aggregate of EUR 33 million, well below the monthly average golden visa investment in 2020 (EUR 54m) but a modest improvement on December (EUR 28m). Since the program’s opening in late 2012, it has raised capital amounting to a grand total of EUR 5.67 billion.

More Intel & Data

In 2019, says Bastien Trelcat, "some consultants started abusing loopholes in the program, such as by selling it as a passive investment," which has resulted in lower approval rates.
The investment fund option of the Portuguese golden visa continues its inexorable rise, as does the prevalence of American applicants.
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Christian Henrik Nesheim AdministratorKeymaster

Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 14 years in the United States, China, and Spain. 

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