86 main applicants and 101 of their family members received residence permits in Portugal in November via investments totaling about EUR 50 million. In euro-terms, that represents a 74% improvement on October but a 35% reduction compared to November last year.
At the end of November, total golden visa investment for the year had reached EUR 619 million, about 89% of the investment raised during the first 11 months of 2019. Presuming the final month of 2020 brings in capital in line with the average monthly investment so far this year (a tenuous presumption considering the roller-coaster year 2020 has been for the Portuguese golden visa), revenue for 2020 as a whole should come in at around EUR 675 million, or slightly behind the EUR 742 million raised in 2019.
Measured in the number of investors (rather than in euros), 2020 so far lags the first 11 months of 2019 by only 30 investors, a shortfall of just 2.5%.
The spread between the fall in revenues and the fall in approvals is explained by the rise of “alternative” investment options; while 76% of investors chose the EUR 500,000 conventional real estate investment option in 2019, that proportion has fallen to 66% in 2020 as applicants increasingly opted for the cheaper options of redevelopment properties and VC/investment funds (both starting at EUR 350,000).
Growth in alternative investment options this year has been most notable for VC/investment funds; the number of applicants choosing this route has grown almost seven-fold in 2020, from seven applicants in 2019 to 47 so far this year. “Alternative” options (anything that isn’t the EUR 500,000 real estate route) has seen its share of all investments grow from 24% in 2019 to 34% this year.
The top five applicant groups this month were Chinese (22), Americans (12), Brazilians (9), South Africans (5), and Indians (4). On a cumulative basis since the program’s inception in November 2012, however, the top five countries remain the same: Chinese (4,750 main applicants), Brazilians (986), Turks (450), South Africans (391), and Russians (355).
The European Dream
One of the trends most emblematic of 2020 has been the growing interest in investment migration displayed by first-world millionaires, particularly Americans who, for the first time in their lives, are feeling the sting of significantly reduced mobility.
Because Portugal’s Borders and Immigration Service (SEF) only publishes the top-five applicant countries by month and by year, we don’t know the total number of Americans have obtained golden visas in Portugal, neither for 2020 nor since inception. What we do know, however, is that their share of total applications has grown markedly in 2020, as evidenced by their intermittent appearances in the monthly top 5 applicant countries.
In 2020, Americans were included in the monthly top 5 for May, July, August, September, October, and November (in addition to having already featured, for the first time, in the annual top 5 for 2019). This steady presence in the top 5 in the latter half of the year indicates a sharp proportional rise in interest among Americans throughout 2020, and they are likely to be included in the annual top 5 when the SEF releases its full-year 2020 figures a month from today.
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.