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Portugal’s Golden Visa: The Story So Far And The Best Alternatives For Latin Americans

AIM Global
IMI Official Partner

The beginning of the year started with massive news concerning the Portuguese Golden Visa.

In a public speech in February, after months of deliberation, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa announced the details of the Mais Habitação (More Housing Bill), including the entire closure of the Portuguese Golden Visa.

The More Housing Bill consisted of various laws and changes to manage the housing crisis in Portugal; hence, the Golden Visa was but a drop in the ocean and garnered very little consideration from the government.

The bill was then passed on to Parliament, which opened a public discussion period to hear from its constituents and Portuguese Golden Visa stakeholders made their voices heard, arguing against the closure of the program and how it would impact the local market, developments, firms, jobs, and more.

Stakeholders and Golden Visa holders also made a point of the unconstitutionality of the retroactivity that would affect investors who applied to the Golden Visa before the More Housing Bill was introduced.

Soon after, in April, the government released a new draft of the bill, scrapping the retroactivity of the law while also maintaining the minimum physical residence requirement of seven days a year (instead of the initially proposed 183).

But the biggest relief was yet to come, as Portugal’s governing Socialist Party (PS) submitted a proposal to amend the bill to maintain the Golden Visa, among other changes.

The PS, the party that initially drafted the More Housing Bill, has the majority of seats in Parliament and passed the bill on July 19th, and now it will go to the President’s Office where we expect it to be passed again without any further rejections or amendments.

The PS’ new draft keeps the Golden Visa alive, but only under five investment options:

  • The job creation (10 jobs) category
  • Scientific contribution (€500,000)
  • Cultural heritage and artistic contribution (€250,000)
  • Investment and VC funds (€500,000)
  • A business investment that creates at least five jobs

For the funds option (the most popular one of the remaining categories), an applicant must invest in a fund that has other investment areas in addition to or other than residential real estate. Funds that invest in commercial real estate are still eligible.

The real estate option has been scrapped entirely, but the Portuguese Golden Visa is well and alive, albeit in a limited form.

Investors can still apply under the current legislation before the law is put into effect, many experts close to the government expect that to be in September of this year, but for those who want to capitalize on the current situation, quick action is needed.

After the changes are implemented, applicants can still apply to the Golden Visa under the new regulations, which mainly concern the eligible investment categories. The pathway to Portuguese citizenship remains unchanged, and investors only need to spend seven days a year for five continuous years to qualify. 

The Portuguese Golden Visa’s fast-track to citizenship was one of the reasons the program was so popular, as it was one of the easiest ways to obtain EU citizenship. By keeping this vital factor of the program intact the government ensures the demand will continue to grow.

At AIM Global we provide fund options that qualify under the Golden Visa and offer good returns, allowing Latin Americans to continue to benefit from one of the most popular residency by investment programs the world has to offer.

But Investors who have their eye on obtaining residency through a real estate investment still have other options that can lead to their goal.

Best Alternatives

Luckily, there are various residency by investment programs for high-net-worth individuals to choose from. However, the options in the EU are limited, and those with an outright real estate option are few.

But the Spanish and Greek Golden Visas offer excellent alternatives to the Portuguese program, as they have a pure real estate investment option throughout an open market that investors can take advantage of to obtain an EU residency as well as an impressive asset.

Spain’s Golden Visa is particularly interesting for Latin Americans as there is no language barrier, there is a high diaspora of Latin Americans in Spain, and it has a fast track to citizenship.

Latin Americans can qualify for naturalization in just two years in Spain, making it one of the fastest ways to obtain EU citizenship with minimal residence, and the €500,000 real state investment now matches the minimum under Portugal’s fund option.

Portugal once had a lower investment threshold than Spain, but the new law renders them equal, so choosing between them will come down to the details and each investor’s personal objectives.

But for those looking for a lower price point, Greece offers a good alternative. Although Greece does have a language barrier, it remains an excellent investment destination and one of the EU’s most dynamic economies, which should continue to after Kyriakos Mitsotakis won the elections.

Greece actually has two different price points for properties depending on the location, as a new law in 2023 set the minimum investment amount in certain areas of Athens, as well as Thessaloniki, Varo, Mykonos, and Santorini at €500,000, while the rest – and the vast majority – of Greece maintains a €250,000 minimum.

The open real estate market in Greece means investors can create a portfolio of properties in high-growth-potential areas, making an impressive profit while obtaining their residency.

It is also important to note that Greece extended its law lowering property transfer tax on new developments from 24% to just 3% until 2025, meaning investors can still take advantage of the lower rate and obtain high-end properties for reasonable prices.

Various options

The More Housing Bill has undoubtedly made a splash, but the end result means that the Portuguese Golden Visa is here to stay in a new form and its pathway to citizenship remains unaffected. Spain and Greece offer excellent alternatives for those with their heart set on real estate, and it is up to investors to choose which program suits them best.

To do so, you can employ the services of Aim, as our team of experts (located both in Latin America and Europe) have the experience, insight, and intimate knowledge to advise you on which option is best for you and your family.

To know more about EU Golden Visas, all you need to do is contact us today via our website https://goaimglobal.com/en/contact/ to book a comprehensive consultation with one of our residency by investment experts.