Portugal’s Golden visa programme has not only been one of La Vida’s top-selling programmes over the last decade, but it is also one of the most highly regarded Residency by Investment Programmes in Europe. Many investors opt for Portugal’s Golden visa programme as it provides one of the clearest cut routes to later apply for Portuguese Citizenship, an option that is not so easily achieved in other EU countries such as Greece and Malta.

There is often some confusion as to how the citizenship element of the process works. It is important to firstly note that Portugal’s Golden Visa programme, in its entirety, is not a citizenship programme. It is a residency programme that enables investors to apply for a two year, temporary residency visa following an investment in a qualifying fund from €500,000. The investor can renew their residency visa every two years, providing they maintain their property investment and spend a minimum of 7 days a year in Portugal.

According to Portugal’s official naturalisation law, all residency holders are eligible to apply for Portuguese Citizenship after they have held a Portuguese Residency visa for a minimum period of five years. The Portuguese Citizenship application is, therefore, in its own right, a separate application to the original Golden Visa programme and is not just automatically issued in year five. The good news is that the secondary application for citizenship is a fairly straightforward process and one that La Vida’s trusted legal partners will assist our clients with when that time arrives.

A recent media report suggested that some Golden Visa investors are being rejected for citizenship, for not holding sufficient ties with Portugal, but this is not the case. Having checked with several of our legal advisors we can confirm that Portugal’s nationality law does not require applicants to establish connections to the country and there is no stipulation in the legislation that allows the Portuguese authorities to dispute a Citizenship application based on a lack of connections or ties to Portugal when someone applies for Citizenship by Naturalization. Our legal partners have successfully processed several hundred Citizenship applications for Golden Visa holders and this has never been an issue or caused a rejection. In general, the main reasons one would not be approved for Citizenship is for obvious reasons such as having a criminal record, being dishonest on the application or not providing the correct documentation.

The other requirement of Citizenship in Portugal is that applicants must undertake a basic language test when applying. It is important to note that this test is an A2 level test, which is often referred to as a ‘getting around town” conversational language level. A lot of the test is multiple choice and it can be taken multiple times if needed. Applicants have at least five years to brush up on their Portuguese and a simple online course would be sufficient to learn this level of the language.

Rest assured, if you have managed to obtain the Portuguese residency visa, then your chances of successfully obtaining citizenship five years later are extremely high, providing you tick all the boxes. Although it is not legally necessary to create ”ties” with Portugal, we would always urge any Golden visa holder to embrace the country they have invested in, immerse themselves in the culture where possible, and enjoy the local attractions of the town and country they have chosen. Most investors naturally build these links over time, not only through their physical investment in Portugal, but many become ‘’emotionally invested’’ in the country which they have proudly become a part of and enjoy spending time in. Whether one takes a couple of vacations a year to enjoy the beauty of Portugal, donates to a local charity in their new town or buys a season ticket to support their new favourite Portuguese football club, all of these types of actions would help create ties, if ever required.

And let’s not forget, it’s not just Golden Visa investors that benefit from such programmes, governments and local economies get to reap the advantages of the extra foreign income too. The investment migration industry is estimated to be worth over $21 Billion and many nations rely heavily on the revenue generated by their RCBI programmes.

For more details on your investor visa options, please contact our expert advisors.

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