The Portuguese Golden Visa’s sustainability – the key to its success

The Portuguese Golden Visa program is up and running full speed, attracting huge number of international investors. Although EU citizenship can’t be obtained instantly, the Portuguese Golden Visa is by far the most preferred option today for getting EU passport. This may sound strange, as the investor has to wait a whole 5 years, before applying for Portuguese citizenship. So why is our Golden Visa the undisputed leader in the EU?

Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria – the main competitors went too far and got burned

The secret for the success of the Portugal Golden Visa is that it is not a passport for sale program. The other three countries, Malta, Cyprus and Bulgaria, were indeed offering unbeatable conditions. In Cyprus, one could apply for citizenship in only 6 months after the start of the application. In Bulgaria – in 12 months. Malta was also in this range. But it was all too good to be true. Because, the EU policy is and has always been firm:

Citizenship must not be up for sale

Viviane Reding – 2014
Vice-President of the European Commission, EU Justice Commissioner

These words were aired in 2014. With them, the European Commission’s war against investment citizenship has started. And logically, virtually all of the three fast-track EU programs, were hit hard.

Portugal is different, very different

Portugal played its cards wiser. The parliament did great job to create fully sustainable investment program that could withstand the storms from the EU. The Portuguese Golden Visa is in no way a passport for sale scheme. And it doesn’t interfere with the general EU policy on citizenship. Portuguese citizenship is obtained after 5 years and while this may sound too long, in fact it isn’t1. At the same time, this timeframe keeps the EU bureaucrats content, for the joy of the residence & citizenship investors.

1 Although the timeframe to citizenship eligibility is 5 years, this is often faster than other programs with much shorter horizons. This is because, the Portuguese authorities are backing the investors, thereby processing the applications fast and efficient. We know of many cases where applicants for the citizenship of the three EU countries offering CBI, have waited more than 5 years before their applications were eventually approved.

Portugal is in Schengen

Another advantage of the Portuguese Golden Visa program is that the country is in the Schengen zone. This means that even at the stage when the applicant has only residence permit, he may freely move within the whole EU Schengen zone. And for many, this is almost as good as full citizenship. At the same time, those who got Cypriot or Bulgarian residence only, couldn’t make much use of it as it’s value for visa-free travel is close to zero.

In a nutshell

In short, Portugal created its Golden Visa program with longevity in mind. The country could anticipate the political sentiment in Brussels and has adapted its program accordingly. If one wants to obtain EU residence, Schengen free access and ultimately EU citizenship – the best option, as from 2022, is undoubtfully our program.

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