Closure of Spain’s Golden Visa is a Win for Portugal Investors… For Now!

The Spanish government’s recent decision to abolish its Golden Visa program granting residency to foreign investors purchasing property over €500,000 is a win for those looking at Portugal’s popular residency-by-investment program. With Spain closing this path, Portugal’s Golden Visa has been reinforced as the more attractive residency option in Europe for investment migration.

Under Portugal’s program, a qualifying investment of just €500,000 into an eligible investment fund like Pela Terra II: Regenerate can lead to Portuguese residency. This is substantially lower than the €1 million minimum investment requirement Spain had in place prior to scrapping its Golden Visa.

The closure of Spain’s program adds to the growing trend across Europe and other markets of countries re-evaluating and tightening their residency and citizenship by investment schemes. Just in the past couple of years, we’ve seen the UK, Ireland, and Australia all shutter their golden visa pathways amid concerns over their potential for enabling illicit finance.

A Big Change for Portugal Too

While Portugal has been able to keep its Golden Visa program open, a significant legislative update in early 2024 changed the rules in an important way for applicants. Effective April 1st, 2024, the residence period counting towards citizenship eligibility now starts from the date of Golden Visa application submission rather than approval.

This change comes in recognition of lengthy delays applicants often face in having their residency applications processed by Portuguese immigration authorities. Whereas previously the citizenship clock only began after final approval, now the entire waiting period is counted towards meeting the five-year legal residency requirement for naturalization, with the seven days per year in Portugal only required once the visa is approved.

However, this positive step may only be a temporary reprieve. Pressure has been mounting on EU member states from bodies like the European Commission to increase oversight and even consider abolishing golden visa pathways over security concerns. The conflict in Ukraine has only amplified these calls.

A Window That Could Soon Close

While the Portuguese government has listened to expert advice in amending the nationality law to make the path smoother for investors, it remains to be seen if the program can survive the wider European movement against residency-by-investment schemes.  

For those considering investment migration to Portugal via the Golden Visa, the window of opportunity could be limited. Applicants would be wise to begin the process sooner rather than later to take advantage of both Portugal’s affordable €500,000 investment requirement and the new crediting of all time from application towards citizenship.

With an increasing number of competitive residency programs being shuttered, Portugal’s Golden Visa remains an enticing but potentially fading opportunity for those looking at investment-based relocation to Europe. The time to act is now before this visa itself potentially becomes a relic of the past.