Portugal is considering giving up its “golden visa” scheme aimed at attracting wealthy investors, considering that it has “fulfilled its function”.
Prime Minister António Costa said that several programs currently under reevaluation include the golden visa scheme, “which has probably already fulfilled its function and for which there might at this point no longer be any justification for maintaining it”.
Under the 2012-launched scheme, investors from non-EU countries can get Portuguese residency if they invest more than EUR 280,000 in real estate, or at least EUR 250,000 in contributions in the arts. That is a popular scheme among investors from countries like China, the U.S., China and Australia, who with residence get access to EU visas and can buy profitable houses and apartments.
Portugal has already temporarily halted the scheme for Russians following the country’s invasion in Ukraine. The country also came under fire when it was revealed that Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich received Portuguese citizenship last year by claiming that he was a descendant of Sephardic Jews. A rabbi who helped the billionaire obtain his Portuguese citizenship is being investigated.
The European Commission and European Parliament have long criticized golden visa and passport schemes as it gives a fast-track route to EU citizenship not on merit but based on purely financial reasons.
“Investor citizenship schemes undermine the essence of EU citizenship and have implications for the Union as a whole,” the Commission said when launching a case against Maltese passport schemes earlier this year.
Portugal does not give citizenship upon investment, but once a person has residence they have the right to travel freely within the EU as long as they spend at least seven days a year in the country.