On February 16, 2023, the Portuguese Government held a press conference regarding a legislative package called “Mais Habitação” (More Housing), announcing certain proposals which the media have dubbed as the “end of the Golden Visa program”. Here is what Felipe Ferreira, Senior Lawyer of Vasconcelos Arruda Advogados has to say about it all:
The announcement, available on the Portuguese Government website (Governo aprova pacote Mais Habitação), reads as follows as it relates to the Golden Visa program (English translation):
Fourth, combating real estate speculation, two measures were highlighted. One, the end of granting new Golden Visas, «the existing ones being renewed, if they are real estate investments, only for own and permanent housing or if the property is placed on the rental market for some time». (…)”
Firstly, it is worth noting that the measures announced above have not been enacted into law. Instead, they refer to a preliminary proposal which has not yet been put through the legislative process. In order to be enacted into law, the preliminary proposal must undergo several layers of scrutiny, including, at least, a public discussion of the intended measures, drafting of a final proposal to be submitted to a vote and, if approved, submitted to ratification by the Portuguese President. If ratified, the final text is published in the Government official gazette.
Just like any legislative initiative in Portugal, the announced measures may be subject to change and are not certain to be approved, depending on the outcome of the voting and vetting sessions at each layer of the process, which we will be following closely.
A second important point is that, given their preliminary status, the scope and effects of the proposed measures are currently unknown. In other words, unless and until the measures are enacted into law, there is no way of determining their implications on existing and future Golden Visa applications.
However, if we look to previous instances where the Golden Visa program underwent significant changes, they were published nearly one year ahead of taking effect (the changes were published in February 2021 and took effect in January 2022), thus giving investors and stakeholders “due notice” of the changes ahead of time. If the current proposals are indeed approved and published, we hope and expect the Government to follow a similar approach, giving investors “due notice” of the changes, thus providing a clear roadmap to investors who wish to renew their Golden Visas and those who may wish to enter the program before a specified cut-off date.”