A Breath Of Fresh Air: Portugal Approves The New Green Visa Program

Portugal’s parliament extended a residency program for wealthy foreigners to include investors who spend at least 500,000 euros on environmental projects. Portugal’s new Golden Visa is named The Green Visa: A new investment category just launched by the government as part of its Golden Resident Permit Programme (GRPP).

Local Reflections

Majority of the assembly approved the program, whereas the far-left expressed huge concerns. Such “golden visa” programs have also faced criticism in Brussels for exposing the EU countries to corruption risks.

The ruling Socialists have given no indication that they intend to end the new Portuguese Golden Visa program, which has generated a steady inflow of funds, mainly into real estate, by non-EU investors such as The Americans, Russians, Chinese, and Turks.

Proposing its removal, Left Bloc lawmaker Jose Manuel Pureza named the program “just a tool for real estate speculation, corruption and money laundering.” On the other hand, Andre Silva, a lawmaker from the PAN animal-rights and environmental party said that it’s important to promote a multicultural society via such means.

Fundamentals of the Program

Provided by the extension, foreigners will now be able to qualify for Portuguese residency if they invest at least 500,000€ in environmental projects. These projects can range from non-intensive organic agriculture and ecotourism schemes to renewable energies and other environmental initiatives. Eco-tourism, organic farming, renewable energy and carbon neutral projects are the possible investment.

The foreigners will now be able to gain a residency permit and Portuguese nationality in the end via these projects. The new program will strengthen Portugal’s role in attracting international ecological investment, while simultaneously ensuring the transition to a circular and carbon-free economy.

The bill for the Green Visas ensures the investment for a minimum of 5 years and spend at least 7 days a year in Portugal. In terms of perks, this visa will work very by giving the possibility of applying for Portuguese residency after 5 years or applying for citizenship after 6 years and getting a Portuguese passport. Also, the new visa will include both personal applications and appeals with a group of investors.

The existing free-travel scheme offers residency for investment via property, corporate entrepreneurship and the creation of new business areas. Other EU countries including Spain, Malta, Greece and Cyprus also offer such programs.

Future

The Portuguese Assembly not only rejects the abolishment of the residency-by-investment Portugal Golden Visa Program but also shows its desire to even expand the scope of these types of schemes, attracting thousands of foreign investors every year.

However, the EU Commission is prepared to publish a report offering guidance to member states on managing such programs, including background checks for applicants, on Jan. 23. Substantial investment in environmentally friendly projects will from now on be another gateway for foreign nationals to gain access to Portugal and the European Union, so restrictions are expected.

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