After several months of uncertainty regarding the Golden Visa in Portugal, it's time for a clear discussion about this popular residency investment programme. Since the government's announcement last February and the implementation of changes in early October, many have declared the programme's end without any clear explanation.

Has the programme truly ended?

No, this is still a common misconception in the industry. The opportunity to obtain a visa through real estate investment ceased in October 2023. However, avenues for non-EU investors to secure residency in Portugal and European citizenship remain open. There's a wide array of alternative assets for investment, with private equity funds being an increasingly popular option for investors. In many aspects, this type of investment offers advantages over real estate: it's ten times faster, involves lower taxes and fees, allows diversification across various sectors, and is hassle-free.

According to SEF indicators, non-real estate investments accounted for 65% of the total investment for Residence Authorization through Investment (ARI) in Portugal in 2023. Among these alternative investments, capital placements in funds for the Golden Visa application more than quadrupled between 2021 and September 2023. The benefits and conditions provided by the Portuguese Golden Visa remain unchanged – including residency for the investor and direct family members, citizenship, free movement throughout the Schengen zone, and reduced minimum stay requirements – meaning Portugal continues to offer the world's best investment residency programme.

An article published last March in Bloomberg reaffirmed this, placing Portugal at the top of the global Golden Visa programmes, ahead of countries like Greece, Switzerland, Italy, the UK, Canada, Spain, and others. The ranking, produced by consultancy firm Henley & Partners, evaluated the best residency investment programmes based on 10 factors, including quality of life, process duration, time to citizenship, and total expenses. Portugal remains a highly attractive destination for investors worldwide, offering unparalleled opportunities for those seeking residency in a foreign country.

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: Client;

What are the benefits of investment funds?

There is a highly diverse range of eligible investment funds in Portugal, and Athena Advisers has established partnerships with some of the most interesting ones. You can invest your money in areas such as hospitality, self-insurance, bonds, R&D companies, renewable energies, and sustainable mobility, among many others, enjoying an annual return that usually starts at 4% and can reach up to 8% in some cases. The minimum investment remains €500,000 (with the obligation to maintain this investment for at least five years), but you can choose to allocate all this capital in a single fund or make applications in several funds, ensuring not only a diversified portfolio but also the mitigation of financial risk.

Another guarantee of making a safe investment is the strict regulation to which investment funds are subject in Portugal. Regulated by the Portuguese Securities Market Commission (CMVM), the funds are therefore subject to audit and are obliged to comply with Portuguese law and tax legislation.

Credits: Supplied Image; Author: Client;

Advantages and challenges

When compared to purchasing real estate, previously the main way in which investors applied for a Golden Visa, investment funds have a number of advantages. Firstly, they have lower rates and taxes while real estate purchases incur annual municipal taxes as well as IMI and stamp duty. Plus, there is also tax efficiency, as some funds offer tax-exempt dividends and capital gains and withholding tax exemptions can be applied, especially for investors without tax residency.

Adding to all this, you have the assurance that your investment is professionally managed by experts, providing you with a hassle-free experience.

Just as there used to be a wide choice of eligible real estate investments, there is now a wide selection of fund investments for investors to choose from. This is one of the new challenges for those who want to get on the path to European citizenship. Choices must take into account the previous track record of the fund manager and entities connected with the fund, the risk-versus-reward profile of the fund, the investor’s goals and many other things.

If you are interested in starting the investment process and applying for the Portuguese Golden Visa or considering moving to Portugal, Athena Advisers along with its legal and fund management partners will guide you through the entire process safely, comprehensively, and transparently.

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