169 main applicants with 386 dependents invested an average of €610,000 in Portugal under the country’s Golden Visa program during the three months to October 31st this year, show the most recent figures from the Portuguese Immigration and Borders Service (SEF).
Since 2012, Portugal has granted 5412 golden visas – formally known as ARIs – to main applicants, and 9023 residence permits to their family members. The program has raised a total of €3.3 billion in investments, some 90% of which has come in the form of real estate purchases.
This recent data set also reveals that China remains the top source of investors; They accounted for 72 of the 169 (54%) main applicants during the last three months, and 64% of all applicants granted golden visas so far. But their relative dominance of the program is receding; two years ago, fully eight of ten applicants were Chinese nationals.
While last quarter’s statistics indicated the program was on track for a record-breaking 2017, the volume of visa issuance appears to have slowed significantly; The SEF issued 37% fewer Golden Visas during the last three months compared to the same period last year.
The deceleration could be related to the extreme delays in processing; We previously reported that the SEF had been unable to cope with the high application volumes and had amassed a backlog of some
4,000 cases, forcing applicants in Lisbon to wait up to 12 weeks to get an appointment.
This October marks the 6th anniversary of Portugal’s golden visa program, the most popular of its kind in Europe. The six-year mark is significant because it is the first time participants in the program would be eligible for Portuguese citizenship.
According to Portuguese and EU law, a third-country national may apply for Portuguese citizenship one year after obtaining permanent residence, which Golden Visa investors would qualify for after five years. Qualification requirements for citizenship, however, are more exacting than those for residence permits; the applicant must have physically resided in Portugal for five consecutive years and must also demonstrate some mastery of the Portuguese language.
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