The Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF) was quick to react to the Russian invasion of Ukraine: two days after the outbreak of war, it suspended the consideration of applications for Residence and Investment Authorization (ARI) for Russian citizens. However, nothing has prevented these citizens from submitting applications for golden visas in Portugal: between May and August, 10 applications for residence permits via investment were recorded by Russian citizens. All were refused by the SEF.

According to a report by idealista, it was on the 26th of February that SEF made their position clear: “It suspended the assessment of any application dossier for residence permits for investment – ​​commonly known as golden visas – for Russian citizens”, said Augusto Santos Silva, the then Minister of State and Foreign Affairs at the time.

The decision was taken in line with the economic and political sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU. Among them, he included the freezing of assets in Portugal and the ban on freedom of movement for oligarchs and people under the influence of Vladimir Putin, such as businessman Roman Abramovich.

Although the measure was applied with immediate effect, the SEF received 10 requests for golden visas from Russian citizens between May and August (between March and April it did not receive any request), says Público. But all were refused: “The SEF informs that, in line with the recommendations of the European Commission, since the beginning of the war it has not granted any residence permit for investment to Russian citizens”, SEF told the same newspaper.

It should be noted that Russia was, until then, one of the countries that invested the most in Portugal through golden visas. According to SEF data in 2021, Russian investment reached 33.6 million euros, being the fourth country that invested the most, behind China, the USA and Brazil. That same year, 65 golden visas were granted to Russian citizens.

In January 2022, Russian citizens had already invested 4 million euros in Portugal (100% in real estate) with which they obtained seven residence permits, thus gaining access to the Schengen area. Despite having suspended the granting of new golden visas, Portugal decided not to revoke residence permits already granted to Russian citizens.