The Portugal immigration department has reported a staggering €1.9 billion investment from Chinese candidates for its Golden Visa scheme.
The European country’s Foreigners and Borders Service has reported the program is dominated by Chinese candidates, accounting for two thirds of the money invested and the overwhelming majority of the visas awarded.
A total of €3 billion has been pumped into the Portugal economy since 2012, including € in real estate and €305.6 million in capital transfers.
At the end of April 2017, some 3,376 visas had been awarded to Chinese nationals, following by Brazilians (403), South Africans (180), Russians (173) and Lebanese (99).
The investment thresholds were recently changed under the Portugal Golden Visa program.
Under the new rules, investment requirements in Portuguese companies will range from €200,000 to €350,000, while the threshold for real estate requirement will rise to €500,000.
Current rules call for a €350,000 investment in real estate and €500,000 in small and mid cap finance.
The move is an indication the country wants to divert some of its investment income away from real estate and into Portuguese companies.
The plan has been given the green light by the cabinet, and will now be sent to parliament for formal approval.
Constança Urbano de Sousa, Portugal’s internal administration minister said that if the threshold remained the same, real estate investment was significantly more attractive. By adjusting the thresholds as indicated, some of the investment euros will be pumped into businesses.
“These companies are the drivers of the Portuguese economy,” De Sousa said.
The program has been lucrative for the Portuguese economy, particularly the real estate market, which has recovered from the dark days of the global financial crisis thanks in part to the investment attracted.
Investment Requirements: Portugal Golden Residence Investor Program
Transfer of capital of minimum value of €1 million into Portugal including through purchase of shares in companies
Creation of at least 10 new positions in Portugal
Purchase of unencumbered real estate in Portugal of a minimum value of €350,000. Co-ownership or purchase of property through finance is permissible provided each individual makes a mandatory minimum investment of €500,000.
Investment requirements in Portuguese companies range from €200,000 to €350,000.
Investment of at least €350,000 in constructed 30 years ago or investment for rehabilitation of properties located in Urban Rehabilitation Areas
Scientific Research and Development
Investment of at least €350,000 in R&D activities of institutions that are part of the national technological system.
Promotion of Culture
Investment of at least €250,000 towards financing of bodies pursuing cultural or artistic activities or towards renovation or maintenance of cultural heritage.
Small-Cap and Mid-Cap Finance
Investment of at least €500,000 towards purchase of units of small-cap or mid-cap venture capital funds.
Investment in Low Population Areas
20 per cent reduction in minimum investments in the above-mentioned categories when investment is made in a low population-density area.
Although property investment is not the only investment stream, it is by far the most popular, as investors look to use Portuguese residency as an access window to the European Union.
Changes implemented in September 2015 rejuvenated the program.
They included new investment options for buying older property, or buying a building in a designated regeneration area. Aa scientific research investment option was also introduced.
Existing investment classes include general real estate, capital transfer and job creation.
There were fears candidates for investment immigration programs could start turning their attention away from European countries like Portugal and towards the Caribbean, because of the UK’s impending exit from the European Union.
‘Brexit’ could mean the investment immigration programs run by the likes of Cyprus, Malta and Portugal may no longer be able to offer visa-free travel to the UK, one of their key benefits.
But the continued success of the Portugal program appears to suggest there has been little impact so far.
Portugal’s golden visa has been highlighted as one of the chief drivers behind Lisbon’s emergence from economic difficulties.
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