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February 28, 2023by Kathryn Funk0

Golden Visa Alternatives in Absence of Portugal’s program

On February 16th, Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced the government’s intention to end the Portugal Golden Visa program. This news sent a shockwave to investors hoping to obtain a European passport through the popular program. There has since been a huge uptake in demand as investors try to proceed as quickly as possible. Others are already looking for golden visa alternatives.

There is nothing quite like the Portugal Golden Visa. It is the last remaining investor program in the European Union with a clear pathway to citizenship for less than €1,000,000. Portugal eligible investments start from €200,000. However, by the end of 2023 at the very latest, this popular residency program will sadly cease to exist.

Investors are understandably now scrambling to submit applications on the cusp as the Portuguese Government sorts out the details for the closure of the program.

While we would recommend anyone in a position to proceed does so. We understand some investors may not yet be ready. So for these people at least, it is time to move on and prepare for life after the Portugal Golden Visa. In this article we delve into the golden visa alternatives.

Portugal Residency by Investment

For those looking to relocate to Portugal and set roots in the country the solution is simple. There are plenty of residency programs in Portugal available for those willing to relocate and spend and least 183 days in the country yearly. Those who spend the allotted 183 days in the country will automatically become tax residents of Portugal. Anyone who is a first time resident of Portugal can then take advantage of Portugal’s Attractive Non-Habitual Tax Residence System. An incentive offering a number of tax incentives on foreign income.

Upon obtaining one of the following visas, you can acquire residency in Portugal with a pathway to Portuguese citizenship. In all cases after 5 years of legal residency in Portugal one can apply for citizenship in country and get their hands on the Powerful Portuguese passport. Note: you must also prove a basic A2 level of Portuguese to be eligible for citizenship.

Portugal Residency Pathways:
  • D7 Visa: Otherwise known as ‘The Passive Income Visa’  the D7 program is perfect for retirees, pensioners, or anyone with sufficient passive income to meet the economical requirements to live stably without taking up employment in Portugal. Passive income should amount to 100% of the national minimum wage for a single applicant, 50% of the minimum age for a dependent spouse and 25% of the minimum wage per dependent child. This income can come from real estate, investments or a pension. After 5 years of maintaining residency, D7 visa holders can apply for Portuguese citizenship.
  • D2 Visa: The visa for entrepreneurs or freelancers who have enough funds to open and operate certain types of high value businesses in Portugal.
  • HQA Visa: The highly qualified activity visa is suitable for accomplished businesspeople, investor-entrepreneurs, and domain experts. Applicants must invest €175K into an innovative business of their choosing. Speedy application processing times and a clear path to citizenship for those for qualify.
  • Digital Nomad Visa: The newest visa pathway to come into play, targeted at remote workers employed by foreign companies who can prove a minimum income. This route provides a visa for one year which can be renewed indefinitely on the same terms.

Americans moving to portugal

Other EU Golden Visa Programs

For those whose allure to Europe’s Gold Coast was predominantly based on the goal to acquire EU residency and visa-free access the Schengen Area rest assured, there are number of quality golden visa alternatives. The Greece, Spain, Malta and Latvia Golden Visa each provide long term residency without the need to physically relocate to the country.

Greece Golden Visa

Greece offers one of the most competitive golden visa programs in the EU with a lower investment minimum than Spain or Malta — €250,000. In fact some would consider Greece’s golden visa program to be the Portugal’s golden visas biggest direct competition. In terms of pure numbers, the Greek Golden Visa is one of the world’s most popular residency by investment programs.

Foreign investors who wish to acquire permanent residency in Greece can choose to invest €250,000 minimum into residential or commercial property throughout the country. However, in April the minimum investment is set to increase to €500,000 in Athens (and throughout Attica), Santorini and Greece. Also, the investment must be made into only one Property. Outside of the aforementioned locations and in the municipality of Piraeus the minimum investment will remain €250,000.

The Greece Golden Visa grants permanent residency in Greece for five years with an option to indefinitely renew ones permit for as long as they maintain their investment. After 7 years of physically residing in the country visa holders can apply for citizenship.

Spain Golden Visa

Spain’s golden visa program is also a very attractive Portugal golden visa alternative. Similarly, granting EU residency to investors and accompanying family members. To qualify, applicants must invest €500,000 in Spanish real estate. Alternatively, one can set up a business in Spain with a minimum investment of €1,000,000 or simply deposit the same sum into a Spanish Financial Institution.

The downside is the long wait for citizenship. Most non-EU citizens are required to reside in Spain for 10 years before they can apply for citizenship. However, for Latin Americans and Filipino nationals, Spain offers a fast pathway to citizenship with just 2 years of residency requirements.

Malta Golden Visa

Malta’s golden visa program also offers a five-year permanent residence permit to non-EU nationals. In order to qualify candidates must purchase a property for a minimum of €300,000 alongside a government donation of €28,000. Or alternatively, rent a home for €12,000 per annum along with a donation of €58,000 to the government. In both cases there is a non-refundable application fee of €40,000. Plus, the investor must additionally donate €2,000 to a local NGO registered with the Commissioner of Voluntary Organisations.

Like Portugal, Malta is considered one of the safest countries in Europe. The beautiful island nation enjoys a pleasant year round climate. Malta is of course part of the Schengen Area as well. After 7 years of residency investors and their families can apply for citizenship.

How to gain european citizenship


Caribbean CBI Programs

If citizenship is the goal then investors should turn their head towards the sunny Caribbean islands of St. Lucia, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Dominica, Grenada and Antigua & Barbuda. The Caribbean’s CBI programs allow you to travel within the EU without needing a visa and stay 6 months per year in the UK. Each of these programs have a donation option which range from $100,000 USD to $150,000 USD for a single applicant. The real estate option on the other hand requires an investment of $200,000 USD in each of the Caribbean countries plus government fees. Of these 5 countries only Antigua & Barbuda imposes residency requirements, However, investors are only required to visit the island for a period of 5 days in their first 5 years.

Grenada Citizenship By Investment

Malta Citizenship By Investment

This golden visa alternative is also worth mentioning, although it’s not a golden visa by name. Malta also offers a fast-track residency pathway to citizenship strictly for high net-worth individuals via the Malta Citizenship by Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment program. However, costs rack up to over €1,000,000 when factoring the criteria plus the various fees. Still, this steep cost is well justified given that investors can acquire a Tier 1 passport with visa-free access to 155 countries and EU citizenship. All in a matter of 12-36 months depending on how much they invest.

Before making a decision

No matter which golden visa or residency route you decide to take, it’s important to do your due diligence and consult with an expert. With the right paperwork and know-how, you can make the most of your second residency in Europe. Good luck!

Kathryn Funk

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