May 8, 2023

Four Alternatives to the Golden Visa for Portugal

As of February 2023, Portugal has announced that it is planning to end the golden visa program. The golden visa program was a popular and unique way for investors to gain residency in Portugal. The program required a minimum investment of €250,000-€280,000 in Portuguese property or other assets. One of the main benefits of the golden visa was that it only required investors to spend an average of 7 days per year in Portugal to meet the residency requirements. However, the golden visa is not the only route to residency in Portugal. In this article, we’ll explore four alternatives to the golden visa that investors can consider.


1. The HQA Visa

The HQA visa is a new program that offers a route for investors to gain residency in Portugal in return for investing €175,000 in a newly-formed company in Portugal. The company must take part in a government-approved incubator program for the first 3 years, but there are no hiring or performance requirements. The applicant is free to hire a manager to handle the day-to-day running of the business.

The benefit of this visa is that, like the golden visa, you’re only required to spend an average of 7 days per year in Portugal. This means you can continue living elsewhere, can maintain tax residency elsewhere, and hold off moving to Portugal fully until you’re ready – or never at all, if you wish. Most other visas, like the d7 and digital nomad visa, require you to spend at least 6 months of the year in Portugal.

Another benefit is that applications are approved within 30 days, whereas applications for other visas, such as the D7, take much longer. This means a faster path to residency and, ultimately, to citizenship.

At €175,000, the investment criteria is lower than the cheapest golden visa options. However, the golden visa allowed people to invest in property, which is seen as a safer investment. Even a managed fund, which the golden visa also offered as an investment route, is likely to be safer than sinking all of your money into one project. However, if you already have a project you believe in, starting that business in Portugal could not only allow you to get it off the ground but obtain residency and eventually citizenship as well.


2. The D7 Visa

The D7 is aimed at those with a regular, and ideally passive, income such as income from a pension, social security, a rental property, dividends, royalties, or other investments. Essentially, it’s aimed at those that can support themselves financially in Portugal without relying on a job or finding clients.

The D7 only requires you to show a monthly income that’s equal to the Portuguese minimum wage which, as of 2023, is €760 per month. In practice, however, you are likely to need more than this to cover your cost of living and are more likely to be approved if you can show a higher income.

One of the main benefits of the D7 visa is that there is no requirement to invest any money in Portugal. This makes it a great option for those that want to retire in Portugal or live off their passive income.

The downside of the D7 visa is that you are required to spend at least 183 days per year in Portugal. This means that you cannot maintain tax residency elsewhere and will need to pay taxes in Portugal on your worldwide income.


3. The Digital Nomad Visa

While the D7 visa focuses on passive income such as a pension or rental income, the D8 or digital nomad visa is aimed at those with active income e.g. income from a salary or from freelancing for clients. Again, this is a visa that’s aimed at those that can support themselves in Portugal. However, the typical income requirement is higher, possibly because a salary is viewed as riskier than a pension.

The digital nomad visa is a relatively new visa program introduced in Portugal in 2021. It is aimed at remote workers and freelancers who can work from anywhere in the world as long as they have an internet connection. The visa allows them to live in Portugal for up to one year while they work for clients or their own business.

To qualify for this visa, applicants must prove that they have a monthly income equivalent to at least four times the Portuguese minimum wage, which as of 2023 is €3,040 per month. This income can come from a variety of sources such as salary, freelance work, or other types of active income.

One of the benefits of the digital nomad visa is that it allows for a great deal of flexibility. Unlike other visas, there is no minimum amount of time that must be spent in Portugal each year. Digital nomads are free to travel and work from anywhere in the world as long as they maintain their minimum income requirement and are able to renew their visa each year.

Another benefit is that the digital nomad visa allows for easy access to other countries in the Schengen Area. Portugal is a member of the Schengen Area, which means that visa holders can travel freely within the area for up to 90 days out of every 180-day period.


4. The D2 Visa

The D2 visa is aimed at entrepreneurs who want to start a business or invest in an existing business in Portugal. Unlike the other visas mentioned, the D2 visa does not require a minimum investment amount. Instead, the visa application is judged on the business plan and whether or not it will benefit the Portuguese economy.

To qualify for this visa, applicants must submit a detailed business plan that outlines their proposed investment and its potential impact on the Portuguese economy. They must also show proof of sufficient funds to support themselves and any family members for at least one year.

Once approved, D2 visa holders are granted a temporary residence permit for up to two years. After this period, they can apply for a permanent residence permit or citizenship, depending on their circumstances.

To sum up, While the golden visa program in Portugal may be ending, there are still several alternatives available for those seeking residency or citizenship in the country. Each of the four visas mentioned - the HQA visa, the D7 visa, the digital nomad visa, and the D2 visa - offer unique advantages and requirements that cater to different types of investors and entrepreneurs. Whether you are looking to start a business, invest in an existing business, or work remotely as a digital nomad, Portugal has a visa option that can meet your needs. It is important to carefully consider your options and speak with a qualified immigration lawyer or consultant to determine the best course of action for your specific situation. With careful planning and execution, Portugal can be an excellent destination for those seeking to establish a new life in Europe.


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