EuropeIntel & Data

Portugal Golden Visa on Track for Record Year: Approvals Hit 3-Year High in May, Buoyed by British Investors

May was the Portuguese Golden Visa’s highest-grossing month in three years. The SEF approved 180 investors and 208 of their family members on the basis of investments worth EUR 83 million.

As has been the case in four out of the first five months of this year, Americans were the top investor nationality in May, logging 31 approvals, closely followed by Chinese nationals (30), British (26), Indians (16), and Brazilians (14).

With 19% of all approvals in 2023, Americans are favorites to become the top investor nationality this year, a title they first clinched in 2022, and we may see more than 300 approvals for US investors before the year is over.

British participation in the program has become increasingly salient in the last year. Before September 2022, UK investors had only appeared in the monthly top 5 twice, each time with just four approvals.

Since then, however, they have featured among the top 5 nationalities in seven out of nine months. In May, approvals for UK investors reached a record 26. Considering the applications approved in May this year were originally filed 18-24 months ago, we have likely yet to see the peak of British post-Brexit interest in the program.

On a cumulative basis counting from the beginning of the program, Americans are the third-largest investor nationality, having supplanted both South Africans and Turks (in that order) over the last year.

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The program finally passed the EUR 7 billion total investment milestone in May.

For the first time in the program's history, the fund investment option was the largest-single approval category in May, posting 68 approvals. In the first five months of 2023, the SEF has approved 192 approvals in this category, based on fund investments worth EUR 69 million, indicating the category is on track to raise twice as much capital for Portugal as in 2022.

The SEF had approved 682 applications by the end of May. Should that trend hold until the end of the year, 2023 could become the program's best year yet, which could mean it will end its 11-year history on a high note.

While the government has this year been clear about its intentions to end the Golden Visa in its current form (but has signalled it will keep certain options), the program remains open for now and the authorities have clarified that they will honor all applications filed under the old regime before it ends.

Speaking to our reporter Ahmad Abbas on the sidelines of IMI Connect last month, Jerry Morgan - head of Mercan, the program's largest real estate developer, said that while the last several months had been a "traumatic roller coaster ride", he was happy with the impact the industry's collective lobbying efforts had made on the legislative process and said he was "cautiously optimistic" about the program's future.

If you like data-driven articles like this one, you'll love the IMI Data Center, the world's largest collection of investment migration statistics, with more than 350 graphs and charts on dozens of IM programs and markets.

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