Portugal’s parliament announced positive amendments to their naturalisation and citizenship law which will enable residents to commence their five-year citizenship countdown from the date they submit their residency (Golden Visa) application, as opposed to the approval date. This adjustment will reduce the overall time required to attain citizenship by several years.

The law requires citizenship applicants to have held residency in Portugal for five years before they can naturalise, which has been a major attraction of Portugal’s Golden Visa programme during its lifetime. However, in recent years, severe processing delays for all types of residency visas have resulted in applicants waiting 18 to 24 months for approval. Consequently, this has then increased the overall timeline to citizenship to around seven years, sometimes more. With the latest amendment, Golden Visa applicants can apply for citizenship within the original five-year timeframe, irrespective of when their initial Golden Visa gets approved.

The citizenship law also stipulates that applicants must spend a minimum of seven days per year in Portugal. We have received clarification from multiple legal partners confirming that this requirement remains unchanged but is only applicable from the date of the Golden Visa is approved. In essence, if your Golden Visa application is submitted in January 2024 but takes a year to be approved, you would only need to fulfil the minimum stay requirement of seven days per year for the following four years before applying for citizenship, and you could submit your citizenship application in January 2029. For those who have already applied, this same logic stands. For example, if you applied for your Golden Visa in December 2021, and have still not had your Golden Visa application approved, you will still be able to apply for Citizenship in December 2026, as long as you fulfil the minimum stay requirement from the time your residency application is approved.

This positive development brings renewed confidence to the programme after a turbulent few years, reaffirming Portugal’s position as the fastest Golden Visa option in Europe leading to citizenship with minimal residency requirements. For more information on the programme, please contact our expert advisors.

Tags: citizenship by investment 2024, Portugal Golden Visa News

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