Law firm counters Golden Visa delay claims

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An international law firm with a strong presence in Portugal has countered claims that non-EU applicants seeking Portuguese residency status for investment face long processing times.

Francisco Barata Salgueiro, senior partner for EDGE International Lawyers, points out that contrary to the case when the Golden Visa programme started in 2012, it has been possible for some time to submit applications in any regional office of the Immigration Office irrespective of the place where the investment has been carried out.
“Since this change was implemented, there were substantial improvements on the issues related to delays and, in fact, we happily report that we have applications approved in as little as three weeks and an average time for approval between 3-4 months.”
However, the legal expert did admit that there were more delays in applications submitted in Lisbon, where the approval time is longer, but overall the average approval time is “very quick,” particularly in comparison with other similar programmes around the world (including the UK, USA, Australia and Canada and others).
EDGE also says that in their experience the amount of red tape at immigration offices has also been dramatically reduced over the last couple of years, mainly thanks to the introduction of electronic means to the application system.
Examples of this include online booking of appointments, online submission of documents, pre-validation of applications and others.
In July last year, the immigration authorities in Portugal (SEF) announced there had been “an extraordinary level of improvement” in the processing of Golden Visas and stated that around 1,300 applications from investors were pending.
But an opinion article published in the newspaper Público on 23 July this year opined that the potential of the programme was being undermined by “red tape and waiting lists” and “according to information gleaned from potential investors — the majority of Iranian and Pakistani nationality, the desire to invest in Portugal ends when they understand that after making the investment on a property, they have to wait around 10 months to see their initial application analysed and accepted.”
Last week the Portuguese Foreign Minister, Augusto Santos Silva, explained the suspension of Schengen – not Golden – visas to Iranian citizens had to do with “security reasons as a result of operational conditions at the consular section” in Tehran.
According to the Lusa agency, the minister explained that the situation had nothing to do with security issues in Iran.
Santos Silva said the “security reasons have to do with the conditions of operation at the Portuguese Embassy Consular Section in Tehran that are being “identified and corrected” and once sorted out, “will enable a return to (normal) operation as soon as possible.”