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Chinese Investors Rush to Obtain Golden Visas in Portugal

Portugal has registered an increasing number of Chinese citizens who are rushing to ‘buy’ citizenship in Portugal, through the Golden Visa Scheme, before the government puts the program to an end.

Investors from China are considering Lisbon and Porto as appropriate investment locations before both cities are removed from the passport for cash scheme, SchengenVisaInfo.com reports.

“A total of €37 million (S$58.90 million) have been invested in Portugal from Chinese nationals, during the second quarter of this year, “which is twice their spending in all of 2019,” director of Maia International Properties, Luiz Felipe Maia pointed out.

Between January and September, inquiries by investors from China marked a 176 per cent increase.

Lisbon and Porto have been brought into the spotlight, after Portugal’s announcement that it would remove both cities from the Golden Visa program, from the beginning of the next year.

“The decision created a wave of demand for urgent property acquisition from Chinese buyers,” the director of Maia International Properties stressed.

He added that the imminent exclusion of both cities had rushed persons “who were previously holding back purchases because of the COVID-19 situation.”

According to the statistics published in September by Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF), a 43 per cent decrease was marked in July, year-on-year, on Portugal’s passport for cash scheme funds brought to the country. The figures observed a 37 per cent decrease compared to June.

During July, €56,005,967.76 were collected by the investment resulting from the granting of Residence Authorization for Investment (ARI). The figures marked a 42.9 per cent decline compared to the same period one year earlier.

Portugal’s Golden visa scheme is among the most popular ones in European countries, which often has been criticized for the way that it grants citizenship to internationals.

Yet, Portugal is not the only country criticized for running its citizenship by investment scheme. The European Union Commission previously urged Bulgaria, Cyprus and Malta to stop the Golden Visa program, which often has been claimed to be a gateway to Europe for money laundering and other illegal actions.

Earlier this month, SchengenVisainfo.com reported that a large number of China’s citizens claimed that they have been frauded by Greece’s Citizenship by Investment scheme, even though Greece issued 5,504 Golden Visas for citizens of China from 2014, until May 2020.

Chinese buyers “flock to Lisbon” to beat deadline on sales awarding ‘golden visas’

Chinese buyers have been flocking to Lisbon to buy up property before the capital’s ‘golden visa’ programme is finally brought to a close.

The South China Morning Post reports that property investors from mainland China have “rushed into Lisbon and Porto” this year – in spite of the pandemic – to buy-up real estate ahead of both cities being removed from what it calls a ‘passport for cash scheme’.

In just the second quarter of this year, €37 million has been invested by mainland Chinese in Portugal “which is twice their spending in all of 2019” Luiz Felipe Maia, director of Maia International Properties told the paper.

Inquiries by Chinese investors ‘surged 176%’ between January and September as investors realised the hottest market in Europe was starting to limit its options – and the economy in China, at odds with that of the rest of the world, is ‘doing well’.

With wealthy Chinese also looking at destinations like Singapore, concern within real estate agencies here is that once Lisbon and Porto have been removed from the golden visa programme (scheduled to happen at the end of 2020) will Chinese investors lose interest in Portugal altogether?

The question could however be rendered academic if Brussels gets its way. As we reported in October, Brussels has demanded that all Member States desist from offering their ‘passports for cash’ schemes ‘immediately’ as they essentially have ‘enabled the rapid entry of criminals’ into Europe.

Portugal Golden Visa Figures Untouched by Pandemic

According to the latest statistics issued by SEF, the Portuguese Golden Visa programme appears to remain untouched by the global pandemic. By the end of August 2020, Portugal had already issued more than 900 residency permits to main applicants this year. This is 73% of the total for 2019 in just eight months. If issuance levels continue at this pace for the rest of 2020, Portugal is on track to exceed last year’s figures by 10% or more.

Not only are application approvals running high, but the amount of investment being generated each month is substantial too. May 2020 proved to be the most impressive month so far this year, generating a staggering €136,913,745 of real estate investment in just one month, despite being in the depths of a global pandemic. Figures remained high in June, with over €83 million in property transactions and more than €50 million in July. This is a remarkable outcome considering the negative impact that the Coronavirus outbreak has had on other economies and real estate markets across the world.

To date, Portugal’s Golden Visa programme has generated over €5.5 Billion worth of investment since its inception in 2012, and more than 15,500 residency visas have been granted. This programme has proved to be an extremely popular and resilient programme for investors looking to gain access to Europe. For more information on the programme, please contact our team.

Portugal Receives ”Safe Travels” Stamp from WTTC

Portugal is one of the first European countries to receive the new ”Safe Travels” stamp by the World Travel and Tourism Council. The WTTC just recently launched this new global safety and hygiene stamp to allow travellers to recognise which countries and businesses are following the standardised health and hygiene protocols set out by major organisations such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Turismo de Portugal has also created their own “Clean and Safe” stamp of approval to distinguish which businesses are compliant with hygiene and cleaning requirements for the prevention and control of COVID-19 and other possible infections. Hotels, travel companies, restaurants, bars and car hire services across the country have already begun to apply for their certifications which will be valid for a year following an audit to ensure the utmost hygiene protocols are being implemented.

Portugal has controlled the Covid-19 outbreak extremely well compared to some of their European neighbours and this is likely to be a major draw for new investors looking to invest in Europe. Earlier this month, Portugal’s main airline TAP started to resume some of their major flights and will continue to expand their services into July and August. Just this week UEFA announced that the delayed Champions League final and mini tournament will be held in Lisbon this August.

All of the above factors could explain why May 2020 was the busiest month this year for golden visa application approvals. Since its inception in 2012, the Portuguese Golden Visa programme has now generated the country a staggering €5.2 billion in revenue. Despite a slow start to the year, the latest figures from SEF highlight that May 2020 has granted 270 families their Golden Visa permits in just one month alone. That’s almost a five-fold increase compared to the previous two months where just over 50 permits were issued in April and March. Out of the 270 applications approved in May, 257 of these investors purchased real estate totalling an impressive €136,913,745. Only 13 investors opted for the least popular, capital transfer route.

Portugal’s Golden Visa programme has always been one of the most popular and successful in Europe and it is evident from the above that investors are still confident in the country as they continue investing at vast rates despite such testing times. To find out more about the programme and how you can begin your application, please contact our experts.

Portugal Begins to Reopen

Portugal is beginning to restore some normality as they gradually reopen businesses and ease their lock-down regulations. The Portuguese Government announced last week that they have a phased plan to begin resuming certain services such as schools, shops, restaurants, cafes and cinemas over the coming month. The process has already begun but will be gradual and the guidelines still recommend that the nation stays at home as much as possible to avoid a second spike of the virus.

Compared to many of Portugal’s European neighbours, the country has coped with the COVID-19 outbreak remarkably well. Current figures of confirmed cases sit at 26,182 with just 1,089 deaths. With Spain just next door, who have sadly suffered 26,000 fatalities, it’s a miracle that Portugal’s figures have stayed so low.

Portugal’s Government and national health service has handled the pandemic exceptionally well and has been praised for having one of the highest testing rates in the world, performing over 46,000 tests per million, according to Statista. This is a great testament of how well the country can manage a crisis and should sit well with those who have been considering investing in Portugal for a residency visa.

The Portuguese Golden Visa programme is very much still open for business and it is possible to begin this process without visiting the country. Interest from potential investors during this period has remained high, and we foresee an influx of interested applicants moving forward in the coming months as things begin to normalise. For more details, please contact our experts.