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Portugal Golden Visa linked to Real Estate to be Scrapped

On 16 February 2023, Portugal's Prime Minister António Costa announced that in an effort to address the issue of affordable housing, Portugal is ending its Portugal Golden Visa programme for new foreign property buyers.

Portugal Prime Minister discussing Portugal Golden VisaThis announcement came as part of a set of measures that the Portuguese government is attempting to tackle the country's housing market, which has been facing some challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors. 

Furthermore, the Prime Minister clarified that existing golden visas would only be renewed if the properties owned by the golden visa holders are used by the owners themselves or are intended for long-term rentals. 

It remains to be seen whether the Portugal Golden Visa programme will continue to be available for other types of businesses, as the Prime Minister only addressed the housing aspect of the programme. However, given the programme’s popularity not only with Chinese investors but more recently with US nationals, the reforms will likely make the programme more targeted and efficient and focus on investments that create jobs and benefit the Portuguese economy at large. Consequently, the programme will likely evolve to be similar to the US E-2 Visa.

Notably, this is already the second announcement within months. As early as November of the previous year, Prime Minister Costa had hinted that the Portugal Golden Visa programme might no longer be necessary, stating that its continuation was "unjustified". Subsequently, in 2021, his administration took steps to limit the issuance of these visas, excluding property purchases in high-value urban areas like Lisbon, where home prices have doubled since 2015.

Moreover, in general, this is the second announcement affecting European Golden Visas, with Ireland scrapping its programme only a day earlier, citing other concerns.

Presumably, these restrictions will likely divert even more applications to Malta, Greece and Spain although the latter countries have made announcements to increase the minimum requirements.