Regional boss calls for stay on Golden Visas
The President of the Regional Government of Madeira, Miguel Albuquerque, has written a letter to the President of the Republic, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa calling for a stay of termination for the Golden Visa programme of at least nine years.
The letter comes after the Government had quietly backtracked on the actual date for the termination of the programme, which will now NOT be retroactively enacted from the day the end of the programme was announced. (February 16)
Instead, the Golden Visa will only end when the new law comes into force after the Government did a U-turn after realising it would face a flood of litigation from applicants whose applications would have been caught in the pipeline when the termination measure was announced.
However, the Madeira boss insists that ending the Golden Visa could scare off around €540 million of overseas investment to the autonomous region.
Meanwhile, the newspaper SOL reported over the weekend that the end of the Golden Visa programme could still put the Portuguese State in court.
Specialists accuse the Government of ‘changing the goal posts in the middle of the game’ which will lead to the suspension of millions of euros worth of projects and recalls that Golden Visa investments for the programme’s property option had already been scrapped in Lisbon, Porto, and the coast because of perceived inflationary pressure on the housing market, begging the question as to why the government is scrapping it at all.
SOL says that there has already been a number of investors who have suspended their projects because the Government had announced the end of the Golden Visas in Portugal for all options except business investment, which will “represent a huge loss to the country” according to Sara Rebelo, a lawyer at Prime Legal and president of the Portuguese Association for Immigration, Investment and Relocation (PAIIR).
The association says that it has also received a wave of complaints from investors of various nationalities saying that they have lost trust in the Portuguese State. “Before we even get to compensation suits, the processing procedure at the borders and immigration service SEF is blocked.
“Certainly, we’ll be seeing chaos at the courts since we’re talking about 12,000 investors who will be directly affected by the termination of the programme”, she said.
The programme will now go forwards for debate in parliament. With its absolute majority, the government is sure of ‘final approval’ — the only ‘sticking point’ being whether or not President Marcelo will give his rubber stamp, which in view of the ‘decisive’ changes could well come.
But how serious is the termination of the programme, and is it as final as all that, and apart from individual house buyers, is it really sure that investors will be unable to find alternatives? In other words, is ending the programme – given that there are alternatives – just a storm in a teacup?
According to the Portugal Resident, the programme will end ONLY on the day the government’s new housing legislation comes into effect (see below). This means all the applicants who believed they were ‘caught out’ by the announcement in February are still ‘good to go’, and even new applicants could be considered.
There is no 183-day requirement on conversion to D2 visas — again, the original proposal was for renewals of existing golden visa holders to be converted to D2 (entrepreneur) visas. These require holders to be present in Portugal for 183 days per year (when golden visa holders only need to be present for seven days a year). The new text sees the government accept that golden visa conversions can retain the ‘seven days a year’ requirement.
Investor visas still available for cultural investments — this is another significant U-turn: the government will allow investment based residence permits for individuals who invest in support of “artistic production and the recovery or maintenance of cultural heritage”. These investments will need the rubber-stamp from one or more competent authorities (the selection involving The Portuguese Agency for Investment and Foreign Trade; the Development Bank; the Agency for Competitiveness and Innovation; the National Innovation Agency; the Office of Cultural Strategy, Planning and Assessment, and “other authorities deemed appropriate”).
Real estate sector specialists have told Imidaily that the window of opportunity to get their applications in and processed “is likely to be at least 45 days (…) in light of what’s known about the parliamentary agenda”.
All agree, states the Portugal Resident, that the changes will have come from the enormous pressure mobilised by industry associations, property developers, regional governors, stakeholder groups and constitutionalists. At least two petitions were raised in outrage over the government’s original wording, both of which gathered thousands of signatures.