With the future for British citizens uncertain following last year’s Brexit vote, many are looking into options for retaining the benefits they currently enjoy as EU citizens. One option is the Golden Visa Program offered in Portugal to non-EU nationals.
On 23 June 2016, the UK electorate voted to leave the EU. This has implications not just for EU citizens who might want to visit or live the UK, but also for British citizens who up until now have enjoyed the freedom to move around and relocate to other EU countries.
Last month the British Prime Minister Theresa May triggered Article 50, which effectively started the two-year process of EU withdrawal. British citizens now know that come April 2019, they will no longer be citizens of the EU.
How exactly this will effect the relationship between the UK and the EU is unclear and will emerge during the course of the negotiations. There have already been negative economic consequences, with the UK sterling dropping 6% against the Euro the day following the referendum, and the likelihood is that freedom of movement, citizenship and residency rights will be affected once the UK becomes a non-EU nation. British nationals who currently benefit from EU freedom of movement rules could well find themselves facing immigration and citizenship restrictions in Europe in two years’ time.
Many in the UK are already investigating solutions to problems that may arise, including dual citizenship options which can still be pursued without restrictions while the UK is still an EU member. There are also a number of longer-term investment opportunities in EU countries for those with sufficient capital which would enable them to retain EU rights.
One such option is Portugal’s Golden Visa, which has been running since 2012 and is offered to non-EU nationals willing to invest in the Portuguese economy. The Golden Visa has seen over EUR 2.8 billion invested in Portugal in the last five years and could offer a timely solution to Brits who could invest in Portuguese real estate to escape the effects of Brexit.
To qualify for a Golden Visa, applicants need to make a minimum investment of at least EUR 500,000 in Portuguese real estate (reduced to EUR350,000 in an urban regeneration area at least 30 years old). There are also other ways to invest, including job creation and investing in scientific research.
There are number of benefits to Portugal’s Golden Visa programme which make it an appealing option to Brits post-Brexit :
- Fast-track residency, with immediate temporary residence and the option of permanent residence after 5 years and Portuguese citizenship after 6 years. Portugal permits dual nationality so it’s possible to have both Portuguese and British passports.
- Visa-free travel around the EU and the Schengen area, meaning continued access to the single market after Brexit.
- Minimal residence requirements of 1 week per year, meaning that a wealthy UK national could invest in a property in Lisbon or Algarve and rent the property for most of the year.
- No tax on foreign income or inheritance tax if you live in Portugal for less than 6 months a year.
- Access to state healthcare, education and the right to family reunion.
For those with money to invest in the Portuguese property market, the Golden Visa scheme could be the perfect way to continue to reap the benefits of EU citizenship with minimal commitment beyond the initial investment. Portuguese real estate brokers have reported a rise in UK investors contacting them since Brexit and it’s not hard to see why.
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