Michael Maxwell of EQTY Capital (www.eqtycapital.com) sat down today with leading Golden Visa lawyers that have been at the forefront of dealing with various factions linked to the initial ending and now amending of the Portugal Golden Visa. A residency programme that has been the benchmark since inception. What a journey it has been since February 16th when the initial government announcement was made. Professionals in the industry have certainly come out of it with enhanced reputations having cooperated exceptionally in this remarkable turnaround. The Golden Visa Programme remains, and this is undoubtably good news. Here are some of the views of the experts:
Filipe Eusébio (Partner of Ana Bruno & Associados, www.anabruno.pt)
The changes to the Golden Visa law finally became clear, after months of uncertainty that could have affected deeply and irreversibly the international reputation of Portugal as a safe investment destination. Hoping that the Portuguese Government can learn from this lesson and never repeat it in the future, we are now ready to embrace this new set of rules once they enter into force, legally and safely welcoming investors into our country as we’ve been doing since the program was initially created. Even though real estate investments can no longer be eligible to grant access to the program, we believe that its maintenance for the future is a clear indication that Portugal acknowledges the importance of the program and is now targeting that the investments can be applied into other sectors of the economy, especially through collective investment vehicles that will be investing in Portuguese companies and dynamizing their activity.
Sara Sousa Rebolo (Partner of Prime Legal, www.prime-legalfirm.com)
Notwithstanding the disappointing conduct of the government since the February announcement, all considered we are very happy with the final outcome of this legislative process. We must not forget that the starting point was the complete termination of the Golden Visa program with retroactive effects to February 16th. The cooperation of the market players and support for initiatives of associations like PAIIR was amazing and without doubt contributed to the turnaround. We believe that there is still a way to go, whether in a new legislative process or in the regulation of the new rules, as there are aspects that must necessarily be clarified, namely the terms for converting golden visas into entrepreneur residences, as well as the concept of "real estate investment", which could easily be limited to services, social or tourism in the revision of the law regulation. On the other hand, the cultural option would also deserve a review to be effectively operationalized.
Although the final text could generate some discussion, even on constitutional grounds, we believe that at this point the approved text will hardly be subject to alterations raised by the President of the Republic. It would be positive if it happened but given the legislative and social moment and the growing flexibility that the Presidency has shown regarding the decisions of the absolute majority of this parliament we do not believe that the probabilities are significant. As such, investors must conclude their investments asap and the market will adapt to the new golden visa era, more focused on corporate and cultural sectors. We are already doing it at Prime because we love a good challenge, and this is indeed a unique moment to innovate!
Henrique Peyssonneau Nunes (CMS Law Portugal, www.cms.law)
To think where this process was a few months ago to what was voted on this week, what a change! Credit must go to the greater legal fraternity of Portugal as well as other players in the Golden Visa and Real Estate Industries for the exceptional unified front. The lobbying was worth it, and the spirit of camaraderie shown by those in the industry a source of pride.
While small details need to be ironed out, we are in a positive position where those already in the programme are protected and a bright future ahead with accessible and interesting options for a broad spectrum of individual looking at Portugal for residence.
It will be interesting to see the new eligible routes to a Golden Visa develop and I expect an increased professionalism generally and that those options with sound investment fundamentals, team, and track record to rise to the top. There will be a natural increase in regulated Golden Visa investment options with direct ownership of real estate soon to be excluded. This may indeed be a good thing.
Hopefully lessons have been learnt from this recent experience and that the next time the programme evolves it is handled in a more commercially sensible way.
Tomas Assis Teixeira (Partner CCA Law Firm, www.cca.law)
The vote of this week has been received positively by the legal community in Portugal especially considering where we started this adventure back in February. Naturally the most important aspect has been the protection of the rights of those already in the Programme. This was a priority, and it is unbelievable that at a stage this seemed to be at risk.
The Programme moving forward remains attractive even without the direct ownership of real estate being a potential route to a Golden Visa. Truthfully, the market does not require the support of the Golden Visa to remain buoyant and as head of CCA’s real estate practice this is clear on our daily activities.
I am confident that in this new form the Portuguese Golden visa will remain the premier residency by investment programme available as it has been since inception. Looking forward to welcoming new investors in the years to come.
For those in the process of applying under the existing rules I suggest proceeding as per normal yet with haste as it is unclear exactly when the new laws will be ratified by the president.