Updated: Oct 14, 2022
So you have found out about the Portugal Golden Visa, the Residency By Investment programme offered by Portugal (also called Investor Visa or Resident Permit for Investment Activity), and are keen to take the next step, but you have two key questions:
What IS the next step (and the process thereafter)?
How soon can I get my Golden Visa resident permit?
In this post, we look under the hood and take you through the nitty-gritties of the process, and also give you a sense of the current lead times we are experiencing. If you would like to read about our views on choosing your investment wisely, please click here.
STEP 1: Make your Golden Visa Eligible Investment
To do that, you first need to obtain your Portuguese Tax number and open a bank account in Portugal (usually takes about a month). All your investment payments, whether Real Estate, Venture Funds, Business Capital, etc, must be made from your funds in your Portuguese bank account.
Our guide to making a SMART INVESTMENT for the Portuguese Golden Visa will help you make a more informed decision regarding choosing your investment. For questions about routing your funds/investment, read this.
The time it takes for you to complete the investment is largely dependent upon your requirements, preferences, decision-making, and availability of your funds.
STEP 2: Apply for the Portuguese Golden Visa online
Once you have completed your investment and gathered the necessary documents, you are ready to apply for the Portugal Resident Permit under Investment Activity. Your Portuguese lawyers will do this on your behalf.
You can apply for the Golden Visa only after you have completed the investment. In case of properties under construction, you can make payments as per milestones, but the total value of the investment as per the contract must be in your bank account in Portugal (some conditions apply).
The main investor's application is submitted online on the SEF portal under the "Investment Activity" category, along with proof of the investment and other documents. Immediately thereafter, the family members' applications are submitted online under the "Family Reunification" category. The SEF application processing fees of €540 per person are payable at this stage.
SEF will review your Portugal Golden Visa application and issue a "pre-approval" (one for each of the applicants) after which you are eligible to schedule an appointment for Biometrics.
Current Status: As on the date of this post, the lead time for receiving pre-approvals is currently at least 4-6 months from the date of application.
STEP 3: Schedule an appointment and appear for Biometrics
After the pre-approval, you need to wait for SEF to invite you to schedule an appointment for physically appearing in Portugal for biometric data collection (photograph, finger prints). All applicants (including minors) need to schedule individual appointments (no group appointments) and must appear personally for the biometrics. This is also the meeting during which the physical documents of your Portugal Residency by Investment (Golden Visa) application are submitted to SEF for thorough evaluation.
Once your lawyers receive the invitation, they will typically have a window of the next 3-4 months during which to schedule the date and location in Portugal of your appointment. They will consult you for a convenient date since you will need updated and legalised copies of documents such as the criminal record, marriage certificate etc, which you may need time to arrange. However, the calendar usually fills up extremely fast so it is important to book a date quickly.
If you need a visa to visit Portugal, you will need to arrange one (a regular Schengen tourist visa will do). The Biometrics appointment does NOT exempt you from requiring a visa for the visit. Therefore, it is best to keep your Schengen visas ready/renewed after you have submitted your application.
The appointment itself usually takes 30-60 minutes, most of which is spent by your lawyer & the SEF agent on reviewing and submitting your physical documents. The collection of biometric data takes barely 5 minutes or less per person. Your lawyer will escort you through the entire process.
Current Status: Current wait times for biometrics are long. Many investors who have submitted their Portuguese Golden Visa applications in Q3/Q4 of 2021 are still waiting for their appointment. So it is fair to assume that it could be a year from the date of application before you get an appointment for your Biometrics.
STEP 4: Receive your Golden Visa (Temporary Resident Permit) cards
Your work is done after the biometrics and physical application are submitted. SEF will then review your documents thoroughly. If they have any questions/clarifications, they will contact your lawyers who will address the same.
Once SEF approves your application and is ready to issue the cards, they will intimate your lawyers. You will now be required to pay the SEF fee of €5392 per person after which they will mail the cards to your lawyers. You can then arrange with your lawyers to have the cards delivered to / picked up by you.
Your legal resident status in Portugal begins on the issue date on the Temporary Resident Permit card. Read our post to know more about your privileges and your options upon receiving your Portuguese Resident Permit card.
Current Status: The current timelines for issue of cards is around 6 months after the biometrics.
As you can see, in the current scenario, it can take from 1.5 to 2 years from the time you make your investment to actually receive your Portugal Resident Visa cards. This is of course, variable depending upon demand and capacity, and one hopes that it will improve over the next few months. But meanwhile, the sooner you start the process, the better the chances of booking your seat.
Our Advisory Services can guide you through the entire process from start to finish, helping you to make an investment best suited to your needs and to obtaining the Portugal Golden Visa.
Disclaimer: The information presented above is based on our experience and also on the experience relayed by other professionals (including legal professionals) in this field. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information as it can vary from time to time. This is certainly not an official advisory of any kind from the authorities responsible for the process (especially the timelines). Finer details of the process and actual timelines may vary. Please do consult your chosen legal, financial and tax professionals before making any decision.