As the first batch of golden visa holders completing their five years of residence in Portugal have started to trickle through, reports confirm that the investors are obtaining not only permanent residence (PR) permits but also citizenships after physically residing for just 35 days in the country.
A great deal of uncertainty has always surrounded the question of whether participants in Portugal’s Golden Visa programme would in the end, after holding the temporary golden visa for 1+2+2 years, qualify for a) permanent residence status and b) citizenship.
The rules stipulate that to obtain permanent residence, an individual must have been legally resident in the country for five consecutive years. Until recently, only those who had held PR for at least a year could apply for citizenship, which meant an investor would have to wait until year six to apply.
This rule, however, changed in July as Portuguese lawmakers amended the country’s nationality law to permit anyone who had been legally resident for five years to apply for naturalization.
But the question to which nobody had a certain answer was ‘how does the Portuguese government define “legally resident”?’
Was it to merely hold a valid residence permit for five consecutive years? Or did it mean that an individual had spent the majority of his/her time in the country during the preceding five years, i.e., being physically resident in Portugal?
Since Portugal’s program only began in earnest in 2013, nobody would know for sure what the answer was until early-to-mid 2018.
Thankfully, tangible examples are now confirming that participants in Portugal’s golden visa program are not only receiving permanent residence permits and qualifying for citizenships; they’re doing so after having spent as little as 35 days in the country during the last five years.
Once the initial five years of holding a golden visa are complete, applicants will also have the option to free themselves of physical residence requirements altogether.
The investment migration industry could not have hoped for a better outcome of the long-pending suspense. Golden visa practitioners and applicants – present and prospective – will be relieved that the uncertainty of a different interpretation of the law no longer looms.
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