Portugal's Golden Visa - FAQ
With the Portuguese Golden Visa programme changing at the end of the year, we take a look at the intricacies of the application process, how to obtain a Golden Visa by buying property in Portugal and, of course, the impact of the pandemic on the application process.
Applying for the Golden Visa
If I want to apply for a Golden Visa for my children, is there an age limit?
There is no age limit for qualifying, legally speaking. There are indicative limits like 21 or 26 as in order to qualify the child must be (a) financially dependent on you, (b) single and (c) in full-time education. If you were adding a 26-year-old child to your application who you claim is single, financially dependent on you and will be in full-time education for the next five years they will be subject to some scrutiny. You will need to show proof that they meet the three rules above when you renew the residency cards as well as the initial application. During the five years of the Golden Visa, your child cannot work, cannot marry and cannot quit studying.
If your child has already completed their university education, you can enrol them in another course in order to qualify for the Portuguese Golden Visa programme such as a Portuguese language course or a cooking course. They do not need to be enrolled on a university degree, they just need to be enrolled full-time in some sort of education.
Are the renewals for the Golden Visa managed in person or can they be managed online?
By law, all applications and renewals need to be made in person. It is also important to remember that if you are applying for Golden Visas for your family, they too will need to be present at these appointments. All family members will need to comply with the minimum stay requirement too.
Though it would have been possible to manage the renewals online during the pandemic, the government decided against this, at least for now, and requested that Golden Visa holders completed their renewal in person. However, given the circumstances and the difficulty around travel, they decided to extend the validity of the residency cards so that Golden Visa holders didn’t lose their residency due to travel restrictions.
How do you get a Portuguese passport?
Firstly you must complete a Portuguese language test – this is an entry-level test so it is not too difficult to pass. You will also need to be a legal resident in Portugal for five years, which you will have been through the Golden Visa programme. You need a clean criminal record in order to apply for the Golden Visa and your record must still be clean when you apply for citizenship. Remember, that speeding tickets do not count as a criminal offence in Portugal.
You need to prove your bond with the community too. This can be evidenced by owning a property and speaking the language (which one needs to do in order to pass the test). You will also need to submit your tax number, health insurance details (it is sometimes recommended that you take this out to further evidence your bond), your bank account number and details of your travel to Portugal.
Which Portuguese Golden Visa lawyer do you recommend?
At Athena Advisers, we work very closely with Legal Square who have a 100% success rate for Golden Visa clients and have helped more than 1,000 families which equates to around 10% of the market.
The effects of Covid-19 on the Portuguese Golden Visa process
If one is looking to apply for a Golden Visa over the next few months, what happens if there are travel restrictions in place? Is it still possible to apply and see properties?
We have been conducting lots of viewings over FaceTime and we have been doing in-person visits too. Where travel is restricted, we have provided clients keen to view a property in person with a letter evidencing that they are coming to Portugal for business reasons. At the moment, travel restrictions are quite light so the Lisbon team are ready to welcome you at our Avenida da Liberdade office or if you are unable to travel, do get in touch and we can organise a video viewing for you.
How does Covid-19 affect the Golden Visa process as the application requires in-person appointments?
Like citizens, Portuguese residents residing abroad will always be allowed to enter Portugal with their residency card, even if they are blocked from entering another EU country. When applying for the Golden Visa programme, one must make an appointment to submit biometric data and this appointment is regarded as essential travel so if there is another lockdown, you will still be able to enter the country to attend this appointment. If it is cancelled due to the fact that the immigration office is closed, your biometric appointment will be rescheduled for the earliest possible date.
Another thing that is important to remember is that once you are pre-approved there is no time limit for submitting your biometric data if you are unable to travel out of your own country, as was the case for South Africans during the height of the pandemic. Whilst it will delay your application, you will still be subject to the same rules at the time you submitted your application.
Buying a property in Portugal
Is there is a risk of project failure and losing our investment when buying a property in Portugal?
This is a very common question that we get from clients. The first thing you should know is that at Athena Advisers we only work with eight handpicked developers. We work with them on a daily basis and have been working alongside them for six years. We also do all of our due diligence whenever we take on a new project. Also, none of the projects that we take on are dependent on sales in order to complete the construction.
On any purchase in Portugal, there is an end date on the promissory contract on which you must be given the ‘goods’ (the property) and if it is not finished on that date you have the right to pull out of the sale and be refunded, even in double. These contracts are enforceable in court too. However, at Athena Advisers, this has never happened to us and this is not a common issue in Portugal when you work with reputable developers as they do not want to damage their reputation.
How much does rental management cost in Lisbon?
This depends on whether you wish to rent out your property on a short-term or long-term basis. For short-term lets, you are looking at around 30%, though some may ask as low as 27% or as high as 35%. For long-term lets of a year minimum, they charge you a fee that equates to 1.5 months’ rent to find a tenant. If you want them to manage the apartment on top of finding you a tenant the cost varies according to what you want them to do and this is actually quite a new service in Lisbon. Property management services range from simply checking the mail and opening windows to being on-hand for any repairs that your tenants may need.