Cape Town – Portugal’s freeze on “golden visas” this week will likely thaw out swiftly, according to a leader in the foreign residency and citizenship sector.
Henley & Partners group vice chairperson Andrew Taylor told Fin24 on Thursday that “all signs are positive that it will be resolved swiftly”.
This comes after Portugal temporarily suspended the processing of applications for its Golden Residence Permit Programme in an effort to increase legislative and regulatory control.
Portuguese prosecutors are charging a former interior minister for his role in a money-laundering scandal involving the golden visas that also implicated the former head of border police, AFP reported on Tuesday.
“Chinese, followed by Brazilians and Russians were the top recipients of the visas,” it reported. “As of late last month, Portugal counted 2 420 ‘golden visas’ had been issued and had brought €1.46bn of investment into the country.”
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Taylor said the suspension was a result of a new law which was approved at the end of June 2015. “The rules and regulations of this law are in the process of being analysed and have created a legal vacuum, resulting in the suspension of applications,” he said.
“New applications may be filed, but as expected won’t progress until the rules that guide the new law are published. This usually happens within 90 days although we anticipate it to happen sooner.”
“We need to remember that this is a suspension and not a cancellation,” he said. “The programme has attracted more than €1.4bn in foreign direct investment to the country since its launch in 2012. All signs are positive that it will be resolved swiftly."
The Golden Residence Permit Programme recently emerged as the best residence-by-investment programme in the world in 2015 in the Henley & Partners Global Residence Programme Index (GRPI).
The index uses unprecedented, objective and scientific methodology to systematically analyse 19 of the most relevant residence-by-investment programmes.
This coupled with news that Portugal had reduced the minimum qualifying capital requirement for its residence program to €350 000 for properties that were constructed more than 30 years ago or located in areas of urban regeneration, made it a compelling offer.
“Although this might be inconvenient now for some, in my opinion, this will add more credibility to the application process in the long run,” said Taylor.
“It can be tricky to navigate the ins-and-outs of these programmes,” he said. “It is always best to speak to qualified advisors … to ensure that investments stay sound.”