How Portugal charms investors

Adopted by the government in October, new legislation, which has now been nicknamed the “golden visa” law, has paved the way for a major programme to attract non-European investors to Portugal – and with them fresh capital to help the country overcome the economic crisis.

The country has received financial support from EU bailout funds, the European Central Bank and the IMF since the spring of 2011. However, hardly any progress has been made with the reforms that Portugal was supposed to implement in exchange for this assistance. The population has rebelled against prescribed austerity policies and the privatisation programme has been very slow to get under way.

This was the context for the idea of seeking help abroad. Foreign Minister Paulo Portas spent months trying to convince Portugal’s European partners — a difficult task because a Portuguese residency permit is also valid in other EU countries. In principle, the investors that Portugal intended to attract could also set up in Paris, Berlin or Madrid.

It was for this reason that major restrictions were established. Investors are required to inject at least €1m into a Portuguese company, create a minimum of 30 jobs in the country, or to acquire a property worth €500,000. Once one of these conditions has been fulfilled, they are issued with an “initial” visa that is valid for two years.

This can subsequently be converted into a permanent residency permit, or even a Portuguese passport, if the investors are willing to keep their capital in the country for a period of more than five years.

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