Portugal could end its popular Golden Visa program — here’s how to get it before it’s gone

You can currently become a European Union citizen through real estate investment in a handful of countries with programs commonly referred to as Golden Visas.

For example, you can establish residency in Portugal with an investment starting at 280,000 euros (about $296,317). Requirements include spending up to 14 days in the country annually. However, over the five-year investment period, that requirement varies.

Portugal’s Prime Minister Antonio Costa recently announced that the government intends to review the Golden Visa program — specifically the real estate investment option — and issued a preliminary proposal for changes. Factors prompting the review include foreign investment driving up the price of real estate and potential security risks of money laundering within transactions, according to Costa.

The program launched in 2012 as a way to attract tourism and investment in Portugal. Over the last 10 years, the program has attracted 6.5 billion euros (about $6.8 billion) in investments and issued over 11,000 residence permits.

As TPG founder Brian Kelly outlined in his journey to EU citizenship, a Golden Visa from Portugal can be very lucrative if you are looking for ways to live, work or study in the EU.

The benefits also extend to your immediate family, and you could eventually hold dual citizenship with a Portuguese passport. This would allow you to visit 187 countries without an additional visa — a Portuguese passport was ranked sixth (the United States is seventh) in the list of the world’s most powerful passports according to the 2023 Henley Passport Index.

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Changes were made to the program in 2022, but this new announcement could mean that the program (or parts of it) will go away forever.

There are several steps applicants must take before the law changes. First, there is a monthlong comment period that lasts until March 16, followed by a meeting to draft the final proposal, which will be presented to Parliament for a vote.

From that point, the proposal can be forwarded to Portugal’s president. It will then be accepted, changed or evaluated by the Constitutional Court.

Either way, it is anticipated that any changes to the current program would affect new applicants and not current applicants in the program, so if you’ve been thinking about pursuing dual citizenship, now is the time to get started.

Brian shared details of his own experience with the program and the Mercan Group, which connects investors to real estate development projects in Portugal. You can find out more information on its website and register your interest to receive more information. It is currently offering a discounted fee from 5,000 euros (about $5,290) to 500 euros (about $529).

TPG will continue to follow this story and report on developments.

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