Post-Brexit, a move to Portugal has been made easier by the golden visa scheme. However, the application process has been criticised for its excessively long wait times. Fortunately, a recent legal case against the SEF will result in a reduction in these wait times, making the golden visa an exciting option once again.
Portugal has a benevolently warm climate, celebrated cuisine, and no shortage of beaches. It is a desirable location. And it would be a really wonderful place to call home.
But hasn’t Brexit put a stop to Brits making a home for themselves across Europe? Fortunately, Portugal’s golden visa scheme has made residency more accessible for non-EU members.
What is a Golden Visa?
Under the golden visa scheme, the Portuguese government has set out qualifying investments for obtaining a five-year residence permit in Portugal. These qualifying investments include capital transfer, property acquisition, and business. Buying a property worth €500,000 or more will enable you to obtain a five-year residence in Portugal. The resident permit gives you the right to live, work, and study in Portugal and allows free circulation in Europe’s Schengen Area.
Buying a property worth €500,000 or more will enable you to obtain a five-year residence in Portugal.
But what happens after five years?
The golden visa scheme has a low physical presence requirement. In the first year, you only have to spend seven days in the country, followed by 14 days in the following two years – this can then count towards citizenship eligibility after five years. This would be perfect for those thinking about having an overseas home that they will eventually move into full-time. Perhaps Portugal will become somewhere to retire to or move to once the kids have finished school.
To obtain a golden visa, you must choose a qualifying investment, open a bank account, and start the legal process. We have a plethora of advice on moving to Portugal. Then, you have to provide biometric data and original documents.
This sounds as simple as can be, but a recent court case has shone a light on issues that have arisen from the application process.
The legal case
Recently, the Administrative Court of the Lisbon Circle has ruled in favour of a golden visa applicant who sued the Portuguese Immigration and Border Service (SEF). He sued over excessive wait times for the appointment to provide his biometric data.
In December 2021, an English citizen decided to invest €350,000 in a real estate investment fund in Portugal for the purpose of a residence permit. The citizen then moved to Portugal. He was prepared to wait eight months until his residence permit was issued.
But then deadlines started to slip. The wait time for the procedure lengthened and lengthened. In some cases, wait times have gone from six months to eighteen. That was when the golden visa applicant decided to proceed against the SEF.
As a result of the verdict, the SEF were ordered to come to a judgement on the golden visa application, and if the application met the required criteria, the SEF would have to make an appointment available for the investor and his family in the next ten days.
What does this mean for you?
Although this case concerned one client, it does set a precedent that can be used as a guide in similar cases. Furthermore, it is a warning to the SEF against long waiting times. It is a crucial reminder that those applying for a golden visa are a great financial asset to Portugal. The outcome of this case should see an all-round reduction in wait times for golden visa applications.