Expats are racing to beat the extended deadline for changes to Portugal's ‘golden visa' scheme amid the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen's strongly worded comments last week about the "utmost importance" of "closing Malta's citizenship by investment scheme".
Jason Porter, business development director at Blevins Franks said: "The EU Commission is not in favour of Portugal's Golden Visa Scheme, much as they dislike those in Spain, Malta and Greece, but Portugal also has the Non-Habitual Residency Scheme - a 10-year preferential tax arrangement for new arrivals - which the EU is also critical of. The recent changes in both these arrangements could be said to be aimed at placating these dissenting voices in some small way."
To put the latest changes in some further context, Porter continued: "The period July to December 2021 has actually been a bonus to advisers, estate agents and developers alike, as the Algarve, Lisbon and Porto were originally due to be excluded from 1st July. It was the dire consequences of the covid lockdown which forced the governments hand in extending the deadline in February 2021."
The EU Commission is not in favour of Portugal’s Golden Visa Scheme, much as they dislike those in Spain, Malta and Greece, but Portugal also has the Non-Habitual Residency Scheme."
"The Portuguese authorities have had to balance the need for inward investment and the ever-increasing valuation placed on real estate in the hotspots of the Algarve, Lisbon and Porto. Property prices in these areas have for some time been such that local buyers have effectively been excluded from the market."
Porter further added: "Whilst the demise of the Golden Visa real estate option in the Algarve, Lisbon and Porto is frustrating for those who require the flexibility of not having to make Portugal their main place of residence, if you are able to spend six consecutive months or eight non-consecutive months in Portugal a year - a requirement of the D7 Passive Income Visa - then this could be a quicker and cheaper option."
Last week, president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has said "closing Malta's citizenship by investment scheme is of "utmost importance", during her recent visit to the island to approve a Covid-19 economic recovery plan.
Her remarks at a media briefing were made in response to a question from the press regarding her position on citizenship by investment in the country.
She said: "We have been discussing the topic of the ‘golden passport' and that it is of utmost importance to stop that procedure because we should not forget that the ‘golden passports' enable, potentially, the person to have access to 27 member states in the European Union."
The EU commission started infringement procedures in 2020 against Malta and Cyprus over their citizenship by investment schemes, since when Malta has replaced its one with a new scheme, the Maltese Citizenship By Naturalisation for Exceptional Services by Direct Investment.
In response to the comments, parliamentary secretary for citizenship Alex Muscat told TV Malta: "There is a point of principle where we're not precisely agreeing. We believe that whatever relates to citizenship is a national competence. The country decides its competence on citizenship."