Portugal hires new SEF director and 140 staff to push through backlog of Golden Visa applications26th January 2016
The exponential increase in popularity of Portugal’s Golden Visa programme has created a backlog of applications. Recent reports put the number of outstanding applications – including both investors and their family members - at over 4,000.
In response to this the Portuguese government appointed a new National Director at the SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) on 5th January whose first act was to announce the hiring of 90 additional case inspectors and 50 administrative staff to clear the backlog, marking the largest hiring by the SEF for the last 10 years.
“In some ways it's no surprise,” comments Lloyd Hughes at Athena Advisers. “I think the Portuguese government always expected the Golden Visas to be a success, just not on this scale. It’s good to see that the borders service is taking the issue head on. Their aim is to compete all of 2015’s applications by the end of March 2016.”
Since its launch in 2012 Portugal’s Golden Visa scheme quickly cemented itself as Europe’s most popular residency-for-investment programme. According to the latest SEF figures, the programme, which started in late 2012, had generated 496 applications by the end of 2013, then tripling to 1526 in 2014.
To date 2,788 applications have been made by non-EU nationals but it’s the programme’s ability for applicants to also apply for family members, which has created the largest part of the bottleneck. Almost 4,300 residency permits for family members had been sought up to the end of December 2015.
“Most investors who are adding family members to their application are doing so for the long term benefit of their children,” adds Hughes. “Having a European passport opens lots of doors with higher education and afterwards employment.”
To the end of December 2015 it has generated almost €1.7 billion in investment, with over €1.5 billion coming through the buying of real estate. The scheme still outstrips the other similar programmes in Spain and Greece that have tried to mirror its success.
For further information on Portugal’s Golden Visa programme can be found here.