Asked by Lusa about possible delays in granting visas, a SEF spokesperson said that, "with regard to the Residence Permit for Investment Activity (ARI) [informally called the gold visa scheme], there have been, from the outset, about 100 applications for 'gold visas' per month.

In a written response, the same spokesperson said that "there has been an extraordinary level of recovery, as about 1,300 requests from investors at national level are pending, many of which are due to a lack of essential documents or the need to clarify or update them, or because of a lack of biometric data collection."

At the end of last year, according to SEF, "there were more than 6,000 pending ARI applications," and "at the ARI website - where the applications for the scheme are registered - in mid-June, "just nine applications were pending validation."

Since the programme was created in 2012, around 27,000 residence permits have been issued, including initial permits and renewals for investors and family members.

In the first half of the year, the investment raised through the 'gold visa' scheme totalled €484,029,198.98, down by 18.8% from €596.4 million in the same period of 2017.

Since the launch of the 'gold visas' on 8 October, 2012, until June of this year - investment totals €3,895,295,041.37, of which €366,144,760.19 related to capital transfer and €3,529,150,281.18 for the purchase of real estate.

Since the creation of the scheme with a view to attracting investments 6,369 residence permits have been granted: two in 2012, 494 in 2013, 1,526 in 2014, 766 in 2015, 1,414 in 2016, 1,351 in 2017 and 816 in 2018.

From its creation until June, 6,017 visas have been granted for the acquisition of real estate, 341 for capital transfers, and 11 for the creation of at least 10 jobs.

China leads the list of gold visas granted (3,890 until June), followed by Brazil (561), South Africa (254), Turkey (224) and Russia (222).