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Golden Visa – No More Uncertainty
There was a lot of speculation about whether participants in the Portuguese Golden Visa program would be eligible for full citizenship after they have held a Golden Visa for the specified time frame. As the first group of Golden Visa holders in Portugal have begun to finish their terms, reports confirm that the investors are obtaining not only permanent residence permits, but full citizenship as well, after having resided in the country for as few as 35 days.
Room for Interpretation
The applicants are required to be legally resident in Portugal for at least five years, before they are able to apply for and acquire a permanent residence permit. Until recently, at least one year of permanent residence was required to apply for citizenship. Under these regulations, investors would have to wait for six years before they could apply for citizenship.
According to the amendment, passed in July, all legal residents in the country with at least five years as such, are eligible for naturalization.
Up until the middle of 2018, there was ambiguity about Portuguese Government’s definition of a legal resident. Specifically, the main question was whether or not the individual had to be physically present in Portugal or whether holding a valid residence permit for five consecutive years was sufficient.
The Best Possible Outcome
Now, fortunately, there are concrete examples of Golden Visa participants receiving residence permits and qualifying for citizenship, after having spent the minimum 35 days in the country rather than the majority of the required five years.
João Cunha Vaz, a Senior Partner at EDGE confirmed this favourable development when speaking to Investment Migration Insider.
“The reality is that at this stage we already have several clients who have transitioned their temporary residencies into permanent residencies, having complied with the minimum stay requirements applicable to the Golden Visa,” He explained.
“This is absolutely real and, with the recent change in the law enabling an applicant to request citizenship after five years of residency, we are now starting to have the first Golden Visa residents applying for citizenship,” he added, confirming that those now applying for citizenship are doing so on the basis of only having spent 35 days in Portugal.
The applicants will also have the option to forego physical residence requirements altogether, once the initial five years of holding a Golden Visa have elapsed.
“There is also a new category of permanent residency recently created that allows for an applicant to obtain permanent residency without then having to abide by any minimum stay requirements in Portugal. This is given to the applicant for five years (renewable every five years) and does not impose any minimum stay requirements,” noted Cunha Vaz.
This is the best outcome that the investment migration industry could have hoped for. With uncertainty surrounding potential different interpretations of the law settled, investors can now be certain, and hopefully encouraged to give this program a second look.