EuropeIntel & Data

With 3 Months to Spare, Portugal Golden Visas Issued to Americans Hits All-Time Annual High

Portugal’s SEF approved golden visas for 157 investors and 183 of their family members in September. All told, SEF has issued golden visas to 1,183 main applicants in the first nine months of the year, staking out a trajectory that would see the 2023 total surpass its 2014 all-time high of 1,526 approvals.

Among the investors approved in September, 40 (25.5%) were US nationals. At 24 approvals, Chinese investors were the runners-up, followed by 13 South Africans, 10 Brazilians, and 10 Turks.

With a full quarter to spare in 2023, Americans have already surpassed last year's all-time high of 216 approvals in a calendar year; at the end of September, they had garnered 244 approvals, 21% of this year's total. Americans are now all but certain to become the top investor nationality for a second consecutive year.

Chinese participation in the program continues to fall; at the end September, they accounted for only 13.5% of this year's approvals.

September's approvals pertain to investments (completed months or years in the past) worth EUR 70.9 million.

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So far in 2023, SEF has approved 1183 applications based on investments totaling EUR 564 million, indicating we can expect 2023 program FDI to exceed EUR 750 million. This would mark a five-year financial high-water mark for the program.

The lion's share of this investment has taken the form of Subparagraph 3 real estate, which for the last 21 months has not been an eligible option in the big cities, illustrating the length of time between application and approval. The Subparagraph 4 (renovation) real estate option and the Subparagraph 7 (fund investment) option each account for just shy of a quarter of the total.

Following the implementation of new golden visa rules earlier this month, all forms of property investments are off the table, and market observers expect the fund investment option will now become the dominant qualifying route. Considering the program's backlog of about 8,000 cases, however, it will likely take years to fully reflect this in the approval data.

Already now, however, as the SEF is still approving cases originally filed in 2021 (a time when real estate investments were still open (even in large cities), the inexorable rise of the fund investment option is evident. The category is on track to see both approval numbers and total investment double this year.

The recognized cumulative investment in the program now exceeds EUR 7.3 billion. The as-yet unrecognized investments represented by the backlog, however, amount to an additional estimated EUR 4 billion, which means total program investment has already passed the EUR 10 billion milestone.

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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